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Mayor Miro Weinberger Announces that City Has Retained Litigation Firm, Issued Final Demand Letter to CityPlace Developers, and Secured Broad Negotiation and Litigation Authority from the City Council

August 25, 2020
Contact: Jordan Redell
(802) 503-7664

Mayor Miro Weinberger Announces that City Has Retained Litigation Firm, Issued Final Demand Letter to CityPlace Developers, and Secured Broad Negotiation and Litigation Authority from the City Council

Burlington, VT – It has been over a month since the City sent a default notice to BTC Mall Associates – the developer of the former mall site and partnership between Brookfield and Devonwood – under the 2017 Development Agreement.  To date, the developer has taken no actions to cure that default. In response, the City has taken the following steps in recent days:

  • Retained the services of Downs Rachlin and Martin PLLC (DRM) to represent the City in the litigation of this matter. 
  • Issued two letters on August 21 to BTC Mall Associates and Brookfield (included below).
  1. The letter to BTC Mall Associates demands that the developer immediately resume construction on the eight blocks of public improvements committed to in the Development Agreement.  Further, the letter notifies the developer that because of its delays and failure to advance continuous construction, as committed in the Development Agreement, the City is no longer responsible for reimbursing the developers for this expense.
  2. The letter to Brookfield responds to their August 20 letter and requests documentation of their claim that they have invested $70 million in the site, consistent with their prior assurances to the City. 
  • Secured near-unanimous City Council approval to grant the Administration broad authority to pursue both negotiations with the developers and if necessary, legal action to protect City interests.

Mayor Miro Weinberger addressed these recent steps with the following statement:

“As has been the case for many years, the City is committed to seeing the former mall site transformed, as envisioned, into a vibrant downtown neighborhood with homes, jobs, and new public infrastructure, paid for by the new development.

“The City’s means for advancing that vision in the wake of the developer’s default and failure to perform include both negotiations and legal action. The City remains willing to work with a well-capitalized, experienced property developer to get the outcomes the people of Burlington are due.

“However, until presented with a viable opportunity for such progress, the City will pursue the outcome that it can legally compel: the construction of eight blocks of public improvements through the enforcement the City’s rights under the Development Agreement.

“Last night, by nearly unanimous vote, the City Council gave the administration the broad authority it needs to vigorously pursue both of these paths towards achieving the results the people of Burlington bargained and voted for.” 

Background and context for recent actions

The City has worked hard for many years to bring about development of a new neighborhood and to re-establish the street grid on the former mall site. 

There are a multitude of components to that development, but they break down in two categories: 1) the private development of housing, retail and other uses on the site, over which the City has limited control, and, 2) the public improvements (streets and infrastructure) that were to be completed and delivered to the City by the developer.  The developer has delayed construction of the entire Project, and among the other challenges resulting from that delay, the public improvements are not built and the availability of TIF funding to reimburse the developer for those public improvements is now at risk.

The developer started but has failed to continue construction of the project as required under its Development Agreement with the City. As a result, the developer has not delivered on its commitments to the City and people of Burlington. The City, meanwhile, has upheld it end of the bargain. The City remains committed to working in good faith toward a credible plan to see the realization of the entire Project. In the meantime, however, the developer is obligated to deliver on its commitment to provide the public improvements regardless of its timeline to advance the private improvements.

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