Higher Ground and Burton submit plans for new Burlington performance venue

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Detailed plans for a new, 1,500-seat performance venue for Higher Ground in Burlington have been submitted to city officials by Burton Snowboards.

Burton’s proposal is contingent on approval by the city’s Development Review Board, which will begin vetting the project on July 7.

The possibility of such a venue has drawn criticism as well as rave reviews from residents of Burlington and South Burlington.

The underused, aircraft hanger-sized building at 266 Queen City Park Road (formerly Industrial Parkway) in the South End currently houses nonprofits Talent Skatepark and The Chill Foundation as well as Burton’s testing labs, walk-up warranty service and a retail store.

In addition to having signed a letter of intent with Higher Ground, Burton is seeking to partner with local eateries Mad Taco and Misery Loves Company for a food hall in the building.

Features at the tentatively named “Burton Hub” include:

  • The new venue is projected to cover about 12,000 square feet, or about 14% of the 84,000-square-foot building.
  • Community-based musical and dance events, including the Discover Jazz Festival and the Burlington Choral Society, could be included in scheduling.
  • Higher Ground would close no later than 2 a.m., as per local ordinance (Higher Ground normally closes 11 p.m. – midnight, according to the application).
  • Outreach to residents on both sides of the city line (including Citizens for Responsible Zoning, some of whose members remain concerned about noise, traffic and safety).
  • Burlington police and fire departments have signed off on the project.
  • Sound levels would not exceed normal, “background” city noise.
  • “Tailgate” parties would be prohibited, as would entrance to nearby Red Rocks Park.
  • Traffic would rely on the one-way bridge on Queen City Park Road and would be “deterred” from turning onto Central Avenue (South Burlington) before and after events.

The project’s origins

Burton floated the possibility of a performance space next to its Burlington headquarters more than a year ago.

A return to manufacturing in this part of town was unlikely to return to a profitable scale, Justin Worthley, Burton’s senior vice president, told the Planning Commission in January 2019.

Worthley also told commissioners that completion of the Champlain Parkway would be “critical” to the development of a performance venue at the site. Burton’s application includes traffic studies for scenarios with and without that long-delayed bypass road.

Construction on the Parkway is tentatively scheduled to begin in 2021.

Burton plans to spend about $100,000 to upgrade its building’s facade, according to documents it submitted to the city.

Preliminary designs show an industrial-flavored exterior designed by Burlington-based architects TruexCullins.

EARLIER: Burton eyes obstacles to a music venue in its back yard.

Contact Joel Banner Baird at 802-660-1843 or joelbaird@freepressmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @VTgoingUp.

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