Mayor Weinberger Announces $22.3 Million RAISE Grant for Downtown Improvements

Funds Complete a nearly $50 Million Budget to Rebuild two new City Blocks Lost During Urban Renewal and Renovate Eight Existing Blocks to Great Street Standards 

Burlington, VT – Today, Mayor Miro Weinberger with local, state and federal partners, announced plans for the over $22 million in funding from the Department of Transportation’s Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) Grant program. The federal funds complete a nearly $50 million projected budget to rebuild St. Paul and Pine Streets through the site of the former mall, and to revitalize eight existing City blocks on Cherry Street and Bank Street between the Church Street Marketplace and the Waterfront.  

“From the start, this project has been an attempt to repair the damage done to this part of town when Burlington, like so many other American communities, tore down a large swath of its downtown as part of the federal Urban Renewal program. When we went to voters nearly a decade ago with a vision to rebuild and reconnect this once vibrant neighborhood, we were trying to accomplish three big things; building a lot more homes, restoring the street grid, and updating aging public infrastructure,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger “Big goals like these are not easy to achieve -- they require vision, hard work, and persistence. There were many times it seemed this effort would fail, but our City team kept fighting to see this lost residential neighborhood reimagined in the heart of our City. Today we are excited to announce a more than $22 million RAISE Grant that ensures that this project to reconnect downtown Burlington will be realized.”  

“The Reconnecting Downtown Burlington project is a once-in-a-generation infrastructure investment in the City of Burlington. When this project is complete, we’ll have created new opportunities to grow small businesses, build new affordable housing, and expand access to green, accessible transit in our city center,” said Senator Peter Welch. “I am so glad to see the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law come to life in such an incredible way and was proud to do my part in passing and implementing this transformative bill. Congratulations to Mayor Weinberger and the City of Burlington for this major step forward to making this revitalization project a reality. Through collaboration and partnership, we’re going to bring new infrastructure and green innovation to downtown Burlington, and importantly, create good-paying jobs right here in Vermont.”    

Division Direct at the Vermont Agency of Transportation Michele Boomhower said, “Over the past decade the Agency of Transportation has partnered with the Mayor and his staff to improve safety, connectivity and multimodal connections; the RAISE grant will bring tremendous resources to the City which will have generational impacts supporting equitable access and mobility for residents, workers, and visitors to the City.” 

Also present for the announcement were area businesses, Mark Sherman from Outdoor Gear Exchange and Hans Van Wees from Hotel Vermont, and a former resident of the neighborhood once located in the north-west corner of downtown Burlington before it was removed during Urban Renewal, Monica Farrington, who each spoke to the importance of public investment in this vital part of Burlington.  

Mark Sherman said, “The work done by the Weinberger Administration to bring downtown blocks up to the Great Streets standards has been key in keeping Burlington growing and improving. Adding Bank and Cherry to the Great Streets program over the coming years will be another huge step in keeping the Queen City on the forefront of vitalization. This, along with the completion of the CityPlace project, will continue to expand the shopping district beyond Church Street, and in doing so bring more strength and diversity to the downtown.”  

Reconnecting Downtown Burlington 

This project to build two new City blocks on St. Paul and Pine Streets and to revitalize eight blocks of existing streets on Cherry and Bank Streets will establish new, direct access to public transit, reduce emissions and travel time for all modes of transportation, and establish new opportunities to rebuild a once vibrant residential neighborhood lost to Urban Renewal, and improve economic conditions for residents in the area disproportionally impacted by the pandemic.  

  • The streets in this project will be built to Great Streets standards. Utilizing these standards, Burlingtonians will have well-designed streets that creates new great outdoor spaces that are lively in all seasons; are multi-use and accommodate all modes of transportation; manifest the natural beauty of Vermont in the urban forest and landscaping; and capture rain in a way that keeps pollutants out of Lake Champlain and helps manage stormwater runoff. 

  • At the end of this project, the city will have reconstructed 4,900 feet of new granite curbing, 5,000 cubic yards of accessible sidewalk, 1,800 cubic yards of pervious brick pavers, relocated all overhead utilities into underground conduit, replaced aged and failing subsurface utilities, and replaced standalone parking meters with kiosks.  

  • More than 70 new street trees will be installed and more than 1,800 new shrubs and perennials will be installed within new raingardens to infiltrate stormwater runoff before it reaches Lake Champlain.  

  • Every intersection will be necked down with curb extensions or converted to raised intersections for pedestrian safety and visibility and to slow traffic and prevent injuries and public art, benches, and pedestrian scale lighting will provide new spaces for people to enjoy. 

  • The projected budget uses approximately $16M in Waterfront TIF funds, along with $12M in congressionally directed funds secured by Senator Leahy, and $19.5M from the RAISE grant. 

Workforce Development and Job Training  

The RAISE Grant includes approximately $1.5 million in project related funds to create a new workforce development and job training program which aims train approximately 120 youth over a 5-year period with in-demand skills, as identified by a Youth Development and Skills Gap study, and to build community for enhanced safety in downtown Burlington. 

 “Data shows that significant racial disparities persist in almost every measure of economic well-being, including employment, income, and poverty status, particularly in and adjacent to the project area supported by the RAISE grant,” said CEDO Assistant Director, Gillian Nanton. “Youth can be a positive force for development and will thrive when given the opportunities to succeed. The City is thrilled to receive this grant funding and looks forward to working with its community partners to support underserved youth in Burlington disproportionately impacted as a result of the pandemic so they can realize the far-reaching benefits of good jobs.” 

Reversing the Legacies of Urban Renewal in Burlington  

In the 1950s, like many urban communities, Burlington focused its redevelopment efforts on the downtown. Voters approved the Champlain Street Urban Renewal Project in an effort to acquire enough developable land for commercial expansion, focusing on “Little Italy”, a neighborhood centered along Champlain Street. It relocated every resident, demolished every structure, rezoned the area for commercial development, and created large parcels to incentivize commercial expansion. Sections of St Paul Street, Pine Street, Bank Street, and Champlain Street were clipped in order to build a series of hotels, a courthouse, parking garages, senior housing, and a suburban-style mall. Burlington’s approach to Downtown Urban Renewal created a legacy of harm as neighborhoods and small businesses were eliminated, street patterns were altered, and the historic context of downtown was significantly changed to attract large scale, suburban-style development.  

In 2014, Burlington undertook a generational initiative to reconnect and rebuild this once vibrant part of the downtown. In 2018 Don Sinex demolished the windowless suburban mall that disconnected Bank and Cherry Streets. In 2021, following a lawsuit by the City, the CityPlace Burlington developers subdivided the main, central parcel of the former mall and transferred ownership of the previously abandoned sections of Pine Street and St Paul Street to the City at no cost, and committed to a public-private partnership to rebuild these streets. Three additional downtown property owners have signed agreements pledging the transfer of ancillary property rights to guarantee the reconstruction of these streets.  


More information on the RAISE Grant is available here:  

More information on the Great Streets initiative is available here:  

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Mayor's Office