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July 18, 2013

Will Trader Joe's Anchor South Burlington's 'New' Downtown?

For those anxious to get their mitts on frozen turkey meatballs and pecan pralines, this week brought welcome news: South Burlington's Development Review Board finally gave the green light to a Trader Joe's on Dorset Street by voting unanimously to approve the store's final plans — as reported in the Burlington Free Press.

Soon, developer Malone Properties will break ground on the roughly 13,000-square-foot store, tentatively slated to open early next year. Across a pedestrian plaza will be another, slightly larger building that will eventually house a blend of retail stores, offices and and possibly a restaurant. 

With all of the popular support behind the project, why has it taken so long for approval? Because plans for a Trader Joe's landed in a sort of development limbo created by the development freeze known as 'interim zoning' adopted by SoBu in February 2012, and plans to create a new form-based code and city center project.

To wit, the facade of the Trader Joe's will abut the street, with parking behind the building. "We are certain the diversity of mixed-uses proposed, a pedestrian plaza, and the existing Healthy Living store will provide the gateway the city is envisioning here to South Burlington's city center district and look forward to seeing the project under construction soon by Malone Properties, wrote Paul Simon, project manager at real estate investment firm White + Burke, in an email this morning.

The project comes with a caveat, at least for those who live in three renter-occupied houses at 192, 196 and 200 Dorset Street: those will be demolished as part of the plan, with no replacement housing planned. 

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