BURLINGTON — Developers and others celebrated the start of work on a 30-unit apartment complex and two commercial spaces Thursday in the South End. The project, spearheaded by commercial real estate company Redstone, is expected to be complete by June.
“This is the first significant housing development in the South End in nearly a decade,” said Erik Hoekstra, managing partner at Redstone. “There are plenty of job opportunities around here, but a lack of housing.”
The location on Flynn Avenue is close to the bike path, bus line and businesses such as Burton and Dealer.com.
The site was home to the Pine Street Deli for nearly a decade. It is owned by the Alvanos family, who own and operate food service businesses throughout the greater Burlington area.
“We ran a very successful deli, but we knew that the building we had, and the way the site was designed, had some very big limitations,” said Mike Alvanos. “We were starting to bust out of our shell, and we needed a site to provide Burlington with what it needs.”
That would be housing in Burlington’s growing South End.
According to Hoekstra, most of the South End is zoned for industrial or low-density residential use. The Flynn Avenue location happens to be zoned for neighborhood mixed use, which is why an apartment complex of its size in conjunction with commercial space was permitted.
“There are very few places you can build an apartment building [in the South End],” he said.
Under Burlington’s inclusionary housing zoning ordinance, 15 percent of apartments within the complex must be affordable housing. That means they are considered within reach of households earning 75 percent or less of the area median income.
Since 2012 Redstone has worked developing six housing projects in Burlington, but this is its first residential project in the immediate area. Once the Flynn Avenue complex is complete, the company will have built 250 housing units in the Queen City.
Mayor Miro Weinberger attended Thursday’s groundbreaking and praised the developer as well as the Alvanos family for helping to ease what he called a “housing crisis.”
“Whenever I come to a new construction site where homes are being created, I think we’re making progress,” the mayor said.
City Councilor Chip Mason, D-Ward 5, echoed the mayor’s sentiments but expressed concerns. “It will fill an important need for smaller scale housing for those working in the South End,” Mason said. “But it’s a challenging intersection [at Pine Street] before you add 30 apartments.”
According to Mason, a new highway route planned for the area should remedy any traffic woes from new South End businesses and developments. The Champlain Parkway is to extend from Interstate 89 to downtown Burlington, but construction isn’t scheduled to start until next year.
“So there’s this gap,” he said. “We’re going to be looking at the issues and staying ahead of them.”