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City and New Moran, Inc. Cease Moran Redevelopment Effort

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 1, 2017
Contact:  Katie Vane
                  802.734.0617

 

City and New Moran, Inc. Cease Moran Redevelopment Effort
City Releases Initial Demolition Report, Outlines Next Steps

 

Burlington, VT – Mayor Weinberger today announced that the City of Burlington and New Moran, Inc. (NMI) have agreed to cease discussions regarding a redevelopment of the Moran Plant, as the two sides have been unable to reach agreement on a term sheet that would have defined the City’s granting of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds and a long-term lease of the building and site to NMI. In addition, the Community and Economic Development Office (CEDO) released today an unredacted version of its March 2017 Demolition Report, which provides an initial outline of the costs and uncertainties associated with different demolition scenarios, and which had previously been withheld because of its potential impact on the term sheet negotiations.

 

The 2014 TIF ballot measure authorizing the City to work with NMI articulated two possible outcomes: either the New Moran team would succeed in a final attempt at a visionary and ambitious re-purposing of the space, or the City would be authorized to resolve the decades of uncertainty regarding the northern waterfront by utilizing the TIF funds for demolition and stabilization of the Moran Plant site. With the inability to reach agreement around the most recent term sheet discussion and detailed analysis of the proposal’s risks to the City, the City will now turn its attention to creating a Site Resolution Plan that will explore a range of demolition and reuse options for the Moran site.  The Mayor has invited the leaders of the NMI effort to serve as advisors to the City during the creation of new plan. 

 

“In 2014, as part of a broad community effort to breathe new life into our northern waterfront, we made a commitment to the voters to resolve the future of the Moran Plant,” said Mayor Weinberger. “The New Moran team brought passion, dedication, and an exciting vision for Moran. The team galvanized hundreds of community members who dedicated their time over four years to try and help our community resolve a challenge that had eluded the City for 30 years. Since long before I was Mayor, I have admired the Moran building, and I am grateful to the New Moran team and the many who shouldered this effort to restore it, and I share the disappointment that we could not find a way forward. We worked hard with the New Moran team, who brought focus, commitment, and every capacity they could to bear on this challenge, but ultimately we could not find a way forward that adequately protected the City from financial risk. It has now been more than three and a half years since the public vote, and it is time to turn the page on this effort and find a reuse of the site that expands and complements the major progress on the northern waterfront that we have enjoyed over the past five years. I am confident that today’s decision to shift our focus away from the long-standing goal of full Moran redevelopment, though difficult, will open up new, creative options for the site that will finally allow the public to fully reclaim the northern waterfront from its post-industrial past.”

 

“Our team came together around the vision of a redeveloped Moran Plant and the vibrant year-round energy it would create on the waterfront,” said Tad Cooke on behalf of New Moran. “Our work since has been possible thanks to the tremendous generosity of a top-notch professional team, diverse partners, selfless volunteers and hundreds of charitable supporters. Together, we built a once in a generation opportunity for Burlington – and we are deeply disappointed we could not reach common ground with the City. Over the months ahead, we will be working to thank the many community members who contributed to the project.”

 

Next Steps
The 2014 ballot measure was clear that, after three decades of failed efforts, the NMI effort would be the City’s last attempt at an ambitious redevelopment of the former coal burning plant. If that challenging effort failed, the City would turn its attention towards demolition and reuse of the site. 

 

Now that the City has ceased its efforts with NMI, the City, through the CEDO office, will create a Site Resolution Plan with the goal of using the TIF funding held in reserve since the 2014 vote to secure the best possible outcome for the public in a way that complements progress on the northern waterfront over the last five years. The Site Resolution Plan, which is expected to be completed in fall of 2018, will consider:

 

  • All applicable land use and environmental regulations
  • Options for the future reuse of the site
  • Based on these options, the scope of the demolition

 

It is critical that the reuse of the site be determined before the building is removed for cost reasons, and because the City’s reuse options will be limited if the site sits vacant for more than twelve months. CEDO’s estimates are that the costs will range from $3 million to $10 million depending in part on how much of the structure’s foundation is removed.

 

History of the NMI Moran Plant project negotiations

Following the public vote in March 2014, the City signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with New Moran, Inc. in August 2014, giving the nonprofit company the exclusive opportunity to redevelop the Moran Plant. The New Moran team helped ignite a passion for waterfront activity, much of which was also authorized by the 2014 vote. These other projects include the new Skate Park (opened in November 2015), the Waterfront Access North project (completed in 2016), the new Community Sailing Center (scheduled to open by October 2017), the rehabilitation of Waterfront Park (completed in 2015), the renovation and enhancement of the corresponding stretch of the Burlington Bike Path (completed in 2015), the construction of a new marina (through permitting and slated to begin construction in the fall of 2017) and improvements to ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2018.

 

For two years following the 2014 vote, NMI worked through a variety of scenarios ranging in estimated cost from $15 million to $34 million, but was unable to establish the feasibility of a project to the satisfaction of the City. In July 2016, the Mayor announced plans to withdraw from and dissolve the August 2014 MOU, and that decision was ratified by the Council the following month. The City released a request for qualifications regarding the Moran Plant in the fall of 2016. NMI was the only respondent to that request, with a submission in December 2016 that included Hemisphere Development, a nationally recognized Brownfield redevelopment partner, and significantly reduced the cost of the project while honing in on innovative uses for the space. Following a review of that NMI submission, the City entered into negotiations with NMI. The two parties worked diligently to attempt to agree upon terms for the project to move forward. Ultimately, the City and NMI were unable to reach agreement around the most recent term sheet discussion and financial risk analysis, resulting in today’s announcement.

 

*The Moran Team will be available for comment after Labor Day weekend, starting Wednesday, September 6, 2017.

 

*Please see CEDO Moran Plant Demolition Report

 

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