History and Past Ideas


The Moran Plant has long been recognized for its redevelopment potential because of the building’s structural integrity and strategic location on the northern end of the downtown waterfront, but numerous concepts and plans for repurposing the building were not successful - until now. Over many years, numerous outreach and engagement activities were undertaken with community partners to determine how to transform the Moran Plant into a functional icon. 

2019 - Key Community Outreach and Engagement Efforts: 


  • NPAs - All but Ward 6 which did not meet in January - announcement of January 30, 2019 Parks, Arts and Culture Committee (PAC) meeting and informational flyer
  • CEDO Webpage with comment function

Targeted Stakeholder Meetings: 

  • Burlington Business Association Waterfront Action Group on 1/10
  • DPW Commission on 1/16
  • Lunch discussion at the Family Room on 1/24
  • CEDO live at 5:25 on 1/28
  • Planning Commission on 1/29
  • ONE Community Center Senior Lunch on 1/30
  • Parks, Arts and Culture Committee on 1/30
  • Cathedral Square on 2/5
  • Parks Commission on 2/5
  • Burlington Lake and City Semester on 2/6
  • February PACC meeting on 2/13
  • February Board of Finance and City Council on 2/19


Read the Community Comments we received


2018 - 


  • CEDO provided an update on the status of the Moran Plant site, per request of the Mayor and City Council, at the December 10, 2018, City Council meeting. The full presentation to City Council on December 10, 2018, can be viewed HERE. The basis of this approach is rooted in the 2014 Ballot question which stated if...


"the City Council determines that the proposed New Moran project cannot be reasonably accomplished, the City Council shall be authorized to utilize tax increment funds from the Waterfront TIF District for payment of indebtedness, direct or related costs of the demolition of the Moran building and site stabilization in accordance with the public trust doctrine.


2013 - 2017 Previous Moran Plant Re-Visioning:


  • The Public Investment Action Plan Process was an expansion of the re-visioning process for the Moran Plant that concluded in 2013. The process identified a project known as New Moran Inc. to advance to a public vote in March 2014. 
  • In the fall of 2016, the City issued a Request for Qualification (RFQ) and Detailed Letter of Approach for the redevelopment and operation of the Moran Plant and associated lands. A redacted version of the proposal submitted by New Moran Inc. on December 22, 2016, can be found HERE

  • In September of 2017, the Mayor determined insufficient progress was made on this proposal and terminated the Moran Re-visioning effort. To see the full press release, click HERE

  • Additionally, in 2017, the Administration charged CEDO with developing the Moran Municipal Generating Station Deconstruction and Demolition Study. This study provides detailed information regarding the costs for various demolition scenarios and steps needed for any redevelopment of the site. The demolition costs as stated in the report in 2017 dollars could range from $3,983,773 to $5,414,966 for Scenario 1 (building would be demolished to current grade) to $8,745,230 and $10,716,661 for Scenario 4 which requires extensive environmental remediation.


2012 - 



An Abbreviated History of the Moran Plant



On the way to becoming the third largest lumber port in the United States, Burlington’s waterfront evolved from a long crescent sand shoreline into a commercial waterfront. Starting in the mid-1800’s, thousands of yards of stone and fill were placed in the lake, creating a progressively larger land area for lumber processing, wharfing, and manufacturing. 

Over time, the waterfront transitioned from a lumber port into a rail yard, and eventually a bulk petroleum facility. Until the early 1990’s, hundreds of thousands of gallons of petroleum products were delivered each year to the waterfront by barge and train, and the vast majority of these prime waterfront lands were rendered inaccessible to the public. By the 1950’s, gasoline, JP-4 jet fuel, and heating oil were being stored on the waterfront, with barges, trains and trucks frequenting the facilities.

The coal-fired Moran Plant went on line in 1954, producing electricity until decommissioning in 1986. Since that date, the majority of the building has remained vacant, with the exception of the Lake Champlain Community Sailing Center’s occupation of a relatively small area.

Due to its significant structural capacity, historical interest, and high costs of demolition, the Moran had been slated for redevelopment, with the support of Burlington voters and City Council.

In the context of recent history, the Moran Plant can be viewed as the last remnant of a waterfront that has been forever transformed. Over the past twenty years, citizens have demonstrated strong support for the public use of the waterfront, resulting in a dramatic transformation of the area into a major recreation and cultural resource.  Since the 1980’s, over 60 acres of waterfront land has been acquired by the City, all bulk petroleum tanks removed, buildings and foundations demolished, and a 40-acre “Urban Reserve” created for “future generations” to decide on its use.

The Community Boathouse, Waterfront Park and Promenade, new Coast Guard building, Community Sailing Center, Andy A_Dog Williams Skatepark and ECHO Center have been constructed, harbor breakwater repaired, and historic lighthouse replicas installed – all achieved with the City’s leadership.  Private sector development west of Lake Street include condominiums and mixed-use development that are either built, under construction, or in pre-development.



Since the transfer of the Moran Plant from Burlington Electric to the City Council, many proposals have been crafted for adaptive re-use for public benefit. A Renaissance Center for Science and the Arts was proposed, but lacked support and fundraising capacity. The ECHO Center considered and rejected the Moran site, and a proposal to relocate the Discovery Children’s Museum to Moran failed to come to fruition. Burlington Parks and Recreation considered a recreation center on the waterfront north of Moran, but concluded that the cost of construction and the regular subsidies required to operate such a facility were beyond the means of the City. The idea of a baseball stadium was advanced, but it became clear that a stadium did not fit on the site.

A Request for Letters of Interest in 1993 yielded several proposals, all with inadequate funding or programming plans.  The City issued a second request for proposals in 1995, and a proposal by UVM’s Fleming Museum was selected.  After several years of planning, the Fleming chose to not move forward, instead turning their energy to further develop on UVM’s main campus. 

The reasons for past proposal failures vary: it can be argued that they have been either too extravagant, costly or unrealistic in terms of site conditions, design and engineering, development costs and parking, and/or involved unrealistic operating income projections.