Blog :: 04-2018

New Ideas for Essex Outlets

Initial ideas in 2016 to add apartments and retail space have given way to plans to add a restaurant and performance space at Essex Cinema.

"The goal here is to become a community-based center that will incorporate music, art, dining, shops," said Peter Edelman, a developer on the project.

Edelman wants to convert the largest theater in the state into a multiuse performance center. Don't worry, movies aren't going anywhere but they will be in a shared space that will include a restaurant.

"The connecting of people through music and food is what excites us and propels us in this project," said Eric Koval, who is calling his project the "Essex Experience."

Last summer, the plans were all about knocking down outlets and building commercial, retail and apartments.

"The reality and the economics of doing apartments really mandated to make it work I would have to go to a certain height, and that's not allowed under the town plan and zoning," said Koval.

Monday, the shopping center was 80 percent full. The plan is to fill the rest of the spaces with local, boutique-type shops.

"As much as anywhere in the United States, retail is in retreat," Edelman said. 

The project will cost several million dollars. Edelman says using space that is already developed will appeal to locals and tourists.

"You have to change the environment and that really is what I am doing," he said.

The Essex Experience will accommodate up to 500 people; 400 seats and 100 spots for standing. That's what developers say differentiates them from the Higher Ground nightclub.

The first show will be May 16.

It's unclear what, if any, big names will perform. 

"We are working on that," said Koval. "That's certainly the plan."

Shopping center representatives also announced they're converting to solar energy. 

Developers say they are the first retail center in Vermont to run fully on renewable energy. 




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    Burlington North Avenue Development

    Even though it is still confined to the drawing board, the new residential community proposed for the former Burlington College property is big.

    The plan so far: About 675 housing units, clustered in multi-story condos and rental apartments, will step back and down from North Avenue, many with terrific views of Lake Champlain.

    What will the buildings look like? Developer Eric Farrell pitched the latest version to the city’s Design Advisory Board.The board, as its name suggests, offered suggestions. Many took the form of questions.


    • How might the modern, block-like buildings proposed on either side of the 19th century orphanage building maintain the landmark’s grandeur?
    • What can be done to increase the development’s appeal to pedestrians?
    • How can the buildings and parking lots balance an urban and surburban feel?
    • Must the buildings’ shapes conform to the predictable dimensions dictated by underground parking?

    Farrell listened. In several weeks, the board’s critiques will be passed along to the Development Review Board, which submits the plan to more in-depth scrutinyIt’s not too late to make changes.

    Farrell is accustomed to change. The project, newly named “Cambrian Rise,” for about two years has been tweaked to accommodate realities in the world of finance, local geology and hydrology, neighbors’ qualms, open-space advocacy and municipal zoning.

    “We’ve seen a lot of competing interests here and I think we’ve found a sweet spot,” Farrell told board members. “I think we’ve worked out a bargain that benefits everyone.

    “I could have built McMansions here,” Farrell added. “I could have built just 50 homes here and no would be happy — except the homeowners.”

    Financially troubled Burlington College sold 27.6 acres of the former Catholic Diocese property to Farrell last year for about $7.6 million.

    The college bought the 33-acre lakeside property in 2010 for $10 million from the cash-strapped diocese in the wake of sex abuse-related litigation against clergy.

    Farrell said he has plans to rename the orphanage. He tossed out his latest choice, subject to change: “Liberty Place.”


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