Tag Archives: Don Sinex

Way Down In The Hole

[Not Exactly As Illustrated]

Brookfield Asset Management, the alleged developer of Burlington’s infamous hole in the ground, continues to be frustratingly vague about its plans and its timeline for actually building something on the former site of the Burlington Town Center. And folks, this could turn out to be the defining issue in the March 2021 city elections, when incumbent Mayor Miro Weinberger is expected to seek a third term.

And, to craft the ultimate in mixed metaphors, that hole may become a millstone around his neck.

Demolition of the old mall began nearly two years ago. Original developer Don Sinex began boasting of big plans for the site way back in 2014. He tapped out earlier this year, and Brookfield stepped into the void.

(Sorry.)

(Although Sinex’s grand vision for Burlington CityPlace can, for shits and giggles, still be seen on its splashy website. Maybe cityplaceburlington.com been declared a historic monument or summat.)

City leaders are pressing Brookfield for some measure of certainty about its plans. Brookfield has failed to miss planning benchmarks since it took over the property. It presented sketches of a site plan to for the site to city council last month, but many crucial details remain to be filled in.

Weinberger, who was a loud and vocal supporter of Sinex and has now, a little more cautiously, tossed his hat into the Brookfield ring, is sounding a little antsy. Seven Days:

“We are looking for them to do more, quickly, to prove … that, in the end, it’s going to succeed,” Mayor Miro Weinberger said. “We are looking for some further confirmation on that.”

Good luck with that, Mr. Mayor. And good luck running for re-election if the hole is still a hole in early 2021. Which is not terribly farfetched; every step on a project of this scope is going to take time, especially in a micromanaging community like Burlington.

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Minter outraises Dunne: the Democratic filings

I’ve already written my take on the Republican gubernatorial campaign finance reports; now it’s the Democrats’ turn.

Topline: A great three months for Sue Minter; a slower pace for the Matt Dunne gravy train; and Peter Galbraith Is His Own Best Friend.

Minter raised almost $400,000 between March 15 and July 15. On the other hand, she spent an even healthier $437,000 for the period, leaving her with about $300K in cash on hand.

Dunne raised $250,000 for the quarter, which would be pretty damn good if not for Minter’s total and the fact that he used to have a substantial lead in campaign cash. That lead is gone. He’s got about $200K left in the till.

Galbraith, meanwhile, has raised a total of $320,000 (he hadn’t begun to fundraise at the March filing deadline), of which $185,000 came from his own pocket. He’s spent all but $35,000, so if he should pull a stunning upset in the primary, he’ll be hard up for the fall campaign.

Except, of course, that thanks to his oil wealth he can write himself virtually unlimited checks.

Anyway, let’s move on to details and such.

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Burlington needs to grow.

One of the things that always perplexes me about anti-development activists in Vermont is how fragile they believe our state’s character is. To hear them tell it, a single development here or there will forever alter Vermont for the worse, and trash our pristine image.

Myself, I believe our state’s character is built of stronger stuff, and can withstand a reasonable amount of development.

Ditto Burlington, a small town by most standards but our largest metropolis. There’s a kneejerk reaction to any growth or development proposal in the city, as if it will be forever shattered if it has a few tall buildings or more people, or if we were to mix some housing into the artists’ colony in the South End, or just about anything else that might add to the population. .

Well, as a person who lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan longer than I’ve lived anywhere else, I can tell you that a city can accommodate a frightening amount of growth without losing its character. Ann Arbor remains a funky town full of interesting, creative people, even though it has a lot of tall buildings downtown and a lot of in-fill development.

Yeah, the traffic sucks, but it’s always more or less sucked.

Beyond that, I believe in a simple propostion: Burlington needs to get bigger. For the sake of its people and its economy — but more importantly, for the sake of Vermont’s future.

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Today’s Free Press front page is just perfect

The Burlington Free Press’ descent into whoredom continues apace. Today’s front page encapsulates every worrying trend in the devolution of a once-adequate newspaper — sorry, “media property.”

The front page, for those not close enough to a library or convenience store to give it an eyeball, features Don Sinex, owner of the Burlington Town Center Mall. Sinex is seeking city approval for a complete makeover of the mall, including two 14-story towers that would be the tallest human-made buildings in the city. Sinex is certainly newsworthy; it’s the layout, and all the surrounding circumstances, that illustrate the shortcomings of the Queen City’s Newsroom Of The Future.

For starters, there’s the fact that the Free Press has been giving this story constant, breathless coverage for quite a while now — interrupted only by its ardent pursuit of Trump-related clickbait. I understand that this is a major story regarding the development of downtown Burlington, and I don’t mind quantity coverage with some balance to it. This, however, is giving over the paper’s most valuable real estate to Sinex.

And if you don’t think this was a pro-Sinex puff piece, just look at the headline:

Last Best Plan for Burlington Mall

If that isn’t an editorial, I don’t know what is. The paper could have said “Developer Touts Last Best Plan” or something like that, but no. This Is “The Last Best Plan.”

Subtle.

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