Burlington's Moran Frame


After years of planning, the Moran Frame (or "The FRAME") is now open to the public.  Plans are underway for additional infrastructure and Summer activations, as well as a Phase 2 year-round vision.  The City, in partnership with Friends of The FRAME, is currently working to make this public park one of the most spectacular waterfront spaces in the country and we want to hear from you!  See below for more information, or visit our StoryMap.


Friends of the FRAME

Early in 2022, Zach Campbell launched a new organization, Friends of The FRAME (FotF), organized to facilate the sustained use of the Moran Frame as an ever-evolving public space.  FotF endeavors to present high-quality, inclusive public programming, support ongoing stewardship, and procure funding for The FRAME.  The City contracted with FotF to pilot the concept of dedicated and ongoing support of The FRAME as a public amenity and destination.  In 2022, FotF secured $62,000 in funding from the Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) Better Places program by launching a successful crowdfunding campaign, which raised over $22,000 in just five weeks (matched with $40,000 by Better Places).  With these additional funds, FotF collaborated with Generator to design and manufacture two custom swinging benches hanging in the northwest bay of The FRAME structure, and bought new amenities such as free Wi-Fi, seasonal restrooms, public benches, and custom storage with historical panels and a community idea board.

In the summer of 2023, FotF launched a free weekly movie night with food and drink vendors, and supported the Blue Alchemy art installation and opening.  The City will continue to partner with Friends of The FRAME to bring free events at The FRAME.

Learn more about events and ways to donate to Friends of The FRAME at www.theframebtv.org

Phase 1B

Phase 1B is planned as a near term construction phase in 2024 and 2025.  The scope of work is a response to lessons learned over the past two (2) years (2022-2023) from Phase 1A and the community engagement that was collected in 2023.

FOCUS:  The ability to host a variety of public events and performance, and vendor infrastructure.  Other items that Phase 1B is likely to include:

  • A large-scale outdoor movie screen.
  • Removal of the "shelves" on the existing concrete pedestals, and other misc. concrete repairs.
  • A seasonal overhead cover system for vendor areas.
  • Analysis for utility connections and services.
  • Paved connection to the Burlington Greenway.
  • Cleanup and safety improvements at the boat hoist and water's edge.
  • Structural steel modifications at level 1 to accommodate portable stage at ground level.

Phase 1B will also continue and build upon the successful work that was accomplished under a pilot project with our partners at Friends of The FRAME.

Community Input

We have received over 500 public comments from surveys and community input for Phase 1 and Phase 2 of The FRAME.  Some of the community engagement feedback we recieved in 2023 can be viewed HERE.

The Moran FRAME is a new public park in the City of Burlington that has transformed the original coal-fired power plant into an iconic destination. (For a full history of the site and its transformation click here). In August 2020, the City of Burlington broke ground to transform the Moran Municipal Generating Station (or “Moran Plant”) into the Moran Frame. After more than 30 years of ideas and efforts to reimagine the long-abandoned former coal plant, the Moran Frame will restore public access to this part of the waterfront, stabilize and activate a derelict site, and create an iconic Burlington landmark that alludes to the area’s industrial past. The project represents the final piece of the broader transformation of Burlington’s northern waterfront that voters endorsed on Town Meeting Day 2014, and lays the framework for additional uses and improvements to be added to the site in the years to come.

The work completed in 2022 and 2023 to support Phase 1 of the FRAME started by peeling back the brick exterior to reveal the building’s steel superstructure, while retaining the distinctive tiered shape. The vision of the FRAME consists of an open-air park surrounding the historic structure painted a striking red.

Phase 1A activated the abandoned site, improved public access to the waterfront, and integrated the site with surrounding resources, all while saving a piece of history and creating a lasting new legacy in this part of the waterfront. More specifically, Phase 1A included the following site work.

  • Peel back the brick and concrete exterior of the Moran Plant, thereby avoiding the significant expense of stabilizing the bricks, and revealing the steel frame beneath.
  • Stabilize the steel frame.
  • Abate and remediate hazardous building materials, including asbestos, lead paint, and PCB paint, in order to make the site stable and safe for the public.
  • Complete remediation of the soils at the Moran site and, in so doing, finish remediation of soils throughout the Waterfront Access North area.
  • Introduce sub-grade utilities to help support future, additional resources as part of the Moran Frame.

Even as the FRAME achieves long-awaited resolution for the former use of the site, it also provides the “framework” for future phases (see Phase 2 below) that could include amenities such as bathrooms, shade structures, water’s edge paths, and viewing decks that look out on Lake Champlain.

The plans for the FRAME avoid pitfalls of past efforts, which have been pursued from 1986 to 2017 and spanned everything from a full adaptive reuse of the building to complete demolition. With a full adaptive reuse, efforts ran into the high costs of winterizing the building envelope and stabilizing the brick. Complete demolition, meanwhile, was found to also be costly given the environmental remediation required, and did not achieve the goals of preserving the site’s history and integrating it with the surrounding public use of the waterfront.

The Phase 1 project budget is $6.55 million, funded by $3.5 million from the Waterfront TIF district, a $2 million redevelopment loan from the federal agency of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and a planned settlement of no less than $950,000 from the Burlington Electric Department for environmental costs.

Much of the work that can be seen today was the result of the City’s partnership with Friends of the FRAME (www.theframebtv.org) and the successful pilot program project from Phase 1A in 2023, as well as the community engagement feedback from information sessions and over 500 electronic survey responses.

Please visit www.theframebtv.org/phase-2 to view all of the conceptual renderings!

See the Mayor’s February 2, 2024 press release with information about Phase 2 here.

Phase 2 Goals:

  • Improve accessibility and enjoyment for all ages and abilities
  • Create opportunities for year-round activation of the FRAME and the waterfront
  • Strengthen connectivity with adjacent destinations and park spaces
  • Build upon what people are already doing at the FRAME
  • Introduce new public amenities that compliment those in nearby areas.

In 2024, the City will continue to test the feasibility of this vision with continued investment in infrastructure for community gathering, performance and vending on the site, and continued activation by Friends of the Frame. The development of a Capital Campaign Strategy for the Phase 2 vision will also be led by Friends of the Frame.

Phase 2 material developed to date can be found in the document library.

The Moran Frame is the final piece in the revival of the northern waterfront, which has included public and private investment in new resources for recreation, cultural activity, and access to Lake Champlain. This revival began in 2014, when over 70 percent of Burlington voters approved a slate of six projects intended to strengthen the waterfront. These projects were recommended by a public committee through the Public Investment Action Plan (PIAP) process, and funded through the Waterfront TIF district and leveraged private funds without any impact on current property taxes. (Tax Increment Financing, or TIF, is a tool that uses the future tax revenue generated by new growth to fund investments in public infrastructure and facilities).

Today, these six projects have transformed the northern waterfront:

  • The Lake Champlain Community Sailing Center is completing its third summer at its landmark new home;
  • The new Water Works Park has increased access to the water’s edge through a wooden boardwalk, benches, fishing pier, and many native shrubs, grasses, and trees;
  • Waterfront Park and the entire northern waterfront have received improved landscaping, environmental remediation, and utility relocation;
  • ECHO has opened a new parking amenity, solar canopy, rain gardens, and public art; and
  • The Burlington Harbor Marina has created a home for many more boats in the Burlington harbor, along with publicly accessible amenities like bathrooms.
Resolution for the Moran Plant is the sixth and final project that was part of the PIAP slate. These projects have been coordinated with and build on other recent reinvestment in the waterfront, including the creation of Andy A_Dog Skatepark, the rehabilitation of the Burlington Bike Path, and new access to Lake Champlain through Texaco Beach. More broadly, since the 1960s, and led by support from the public, the City of Burlington has acquired over 60 acres of waterfront land and removed the petroleum tanks, industrial buildings, and other structures that had been left on the waterfront as it transitioned from an area for first lumber processing and wharfing, to a rail yard and bulk petroleum facility. In doing so, the City has restored public access to the central and northern waterfront.

In addition to marking the transformation of the northern waterfront, the Moran Frame also will be a powerful symbol of Burlington’s energy transition. Burlington is proud to be served by a municipal electric utility, the Burlington Electric Department, which was founded in 1905. In 1952, voters approved bonding for the Moran Municipal Generating Station, which was opened two years later was opened in 1954 as a 30-megawatt power plant that turned coal into electricity. In 1977, in response to fuel shortages, the plant was converted to wood chips, and in 1978, voters chose to further pursue wood chips for fuel and voted to construct a new generating plant in Burlington’s Intervale. The new McNeil Wood-Powered Electric Generating Facility opened in 1984, and as a result, the Moran Plant was decommissioned in 1986. Several BED employees who worked at the Moran Plant continue to work at BED. Nearly 30 years later, in 2014, Burlington purchased the Winooski One Hydroelectric Facility, and in doing so, completed the City’s transformation from relying on the coal-fired electricity of the Moran Plant to being powered by 100 percent renewable electricity – the first city in the country to achieve that milestone. Since then, Burlington has continued to set and work toward some of the most ambitious local energy and climate goals in the country.


Explore more in the Document Library.

Do you have questions about this project?

Contact CEDO Community Works at CEDOcommunityworks@burlingtonvt.gov.