By Associated Press - Thursday, September 10, 2020

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) - Vermont’s largest city has filed a lawsuit against the developer of a giant redevelopment project, alleging breach of contract.

The developer of the Burlington project has been trying to end its contract with the city.

According to the lawsuit filed by the city Tuesday against BTC Mall Associates, LLC, the agreement doesn’t allow one party to end it once construction starts.

“The developer’s recent letters make explicitly clear that it is attempting to renege on its longstanding, binding commitments to the people of Burlington by arguing that it never started construction,” Mayor Miro Weinberger said in a statement. “Anyone who has looked at the construction site in the last two years knows that’s absurd, and we’re not going to let them get away with it.”

He added that with the filing of the lawsuit, “we are fighting for the reconnected and dramatically improved public streets and infrastructure that Burlington has been promised, and ultimately, for the widely shared vision of restored homes, jobs, and vitality in this long-troubled part of our downtown.”

Demolition for the project began more than two years ago, but has not progressed. Now there is a hole in downtown Burlington awaiting construction.

The developer has denied accusations of violating its 2017 agreement with the city. In correspondence dated Sept. 3 to the mayor from BTC Mall Associates, the development agreement was described as “mutually abandoned and terminated by the parties by virtue of the impossibility of performance.” BTC said it looks forward to submitting a new project for approval in the near future.

The city said it is open to mediation, but that the discussion must be based on the existing agreement.

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