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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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