Mayor Weinberger and Coalition of South End Stakeholders Support South End Innovation District

Proposal to legalize dense multi-family housing in the South End for the first time, create a vibrant new mixed-use neighborhood   

Burlington, Vt. – Today, Mayor Miro Weinberger and area stakeholders discussed the impacts of the proposed zoning amendment to create the South End Innovation District (SEID), which will legalize housing in Burlington’s South End. The proposal would enhance the already bustling manufacturing and arts district by enabling dense, mixed-use development of a large swath of the city that is currently dominated by undeveloped or underutilized parcels. Sharing their support for the SEID, were: Owner and Developer of Hula Lakeside Russ Scully, South End resident and member of Vermonters for People Oriented Places (VPOP) Jake Tiano, Deputy Director of Burlington Business Association Colin Hilliard, Chief Executive Officer of Champlain Housing Trust Michael Monte, and Champlain College President Alex Hernandez. The Burlington City Council is slated to take action on the SEID at their regular meeting this evening.  

“The South End Innovation District overlay will be one of the most substantial pro-housing steps the City has ever taken. It is through major reforms like this that we will eventually end the homelessness crisis,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “I am struck by the diverse and engaged coalition of support behind this zoning amendment which includes businesses, residents, artists, and developers who all understand that we need more housing and we need it now.”  

The proposed amendment to the Comprehensive Development Ordinance creates an overlay that applies to a portion of the South End Enterprise Light Manufacturing Zone (E-LM), to facilitate dense, mixed-use development including multifamily housing for the first time in the core of the South End. The SEID advances a key planBTV: South End policy, adopted in 2019, to create a mixed-use innovation district centered around Lakeside Avenue, and a key component of the Mayor’s 2021 10-point Housing Action Plan which directed the city to explore the inclusion of housing in this area.  

The SEID is intended to guide development on largely undeveloped and underutilized land, including 13-acres of existing surface parking lots, in a way that will make it possible to build a variety of new housing types, while supporting public and ecological health by improving walking, biking and green stormwater infrastructure and guiding the redevelopment of formerly industrial and brownfield properties.   

The total rezoned area is 81 acres and currently has no residential homes in it. The City, Ride Your Bike, and Champlain College are working under an MOU that could result in approximately 700 hundred new homes in the south half of the new district if the zoning is approved. The rezoning could ultimately enable approximately 1,200 hundred new homes in the entire district. 

“The South End Innovation District creates a live-work-play-learn community that will boost innovation, entrepreneurship and affordable housing,” says Champlain College president Alex Hernandez. “Champlain College is excited to be an academic partner in this effort and help more people build a better future in our city.” 

“CHT is ready to participate in this exciting and new initiative to create housing in Burlington’s south end,” said Michael Monte, Chief Executive Officer of the Champlain Housing Trust. “The need for housing, especially affordable housing, is greater than ever. Turning parking lots into housing is the right thing to do.” 

Colin Hilliard, Deputy Director, Burlington Business Association (BBA) said: “The Burlington Business Association enthusiastically supports the proposed changes to create a South End Innovation District (SEID). We’ve heard from countless local businesses about the challenge of hiring staff simply because they can’t find housing. And too many employees must commute from outside Chittenden County when they'd like to bike or walk to work. For these reasons, over 17 South End businesses employing over 750 people have signed on in support of this proposal. The BBA and its members hope to see further advances in housing just like this one, with more members in our community saying Yes to more neighbors and Yes in My Backyard.”  


  • The concept of a new multi-use district, including housing, in the South End has long been discussed, and was formally introduced in the 2014 planBTV: South End process. 

  • The planBTV: South End process explored housing options within and outside of the ELM zone. While the plan, at the time of adoption in 2019, ultimately did not recommend housing in this new district, it directed continued discussions about housing needs in the South End and necessary changes to zoning policies to meet those needs. 

  • In December 2021 Mayor Weinberger announced a 10-point Action Plan to Fulfill Housing as Human Right in Burlington, which identified two priority goals to double housing production and end homelessness over five years, supported by ten new initiatives. The plan’s initiative to “open new housing opportunities through the creation of a mixed-use Enterprise Innovation District in a portion of the South End” provided the forum for this much-needed discussion to continue. 

  • The SEID was formally introduced to the Planning Commission in August 2022, and was approved by the Commission and referred to the City Council in January 2023. The full council referred the amendment to the Ordinance Committee in February 2023, and the Committee voted unanimously to recommend approval last month.  

  • The Burlington City Council will consider the SEID for action following a public hearing at its regular meeting tonight, July 24.  

More Information:  

The SEID amendment will facilitate the development of a mixed-use urban district that supports the South End’s arts and innovation economy, while also providing access to housing. It establishes specific standards for new development within the district, including: 

  • Land Use standards that allow for multi-unit housing and non-residential uses, including arts and making, office and innovation, and light manufacturing as well as other commercial uses that support a mixed-use neighborhood such as child care, small groceries, cafes, and laundry services.  

  • Residential developments within the overlay will be required to comply with the city’s Inclusionary Housing standards, including that a minimum of 15% of housing units meet affordability limits, creating an opportunity for hundreds of new permanently affordable homes.  

  • Standards for building height which range from four up to eight stories, while limiting overall building size and requiring upper story variation to create a high-quality and livable urban form that facilitates residential and economic growth. 

  • Standards that require new blocks to be created on very large sites and that govern lot coverage and ground floor uses to guide the development of a walkable, dense, and human-scaled urban district. 

  • Standards that require buildings be close to streets and occupy the majority of a block’s frontage, while providing a greater degree of flexibility and open space than downtown zoning districts. 

  • Parking standards that limit surface parking and guide the development of parking in a way that mitigates negative impacts. 



Press Release Date: 
City Department: 
Mayor's Office