Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Industrial space running low in Chittenden County


SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) – Real estate experts say Chittenden County is facing a shortage of industrial spaces. This means no room for manufacturing areas, warehouses, and distribution centers

Developer, Jeff Nick, and his team have been going back and forth with the city of South Burlington over zoning for years. This week, a permit to build on their land got denied.

Nick said Vermont doesn’t make it easy for these types of businesses to come to the area. “It’s an issue I think towns and cities need to get their arms around,” he explained.

Jeff Nick is working to build industrial space on Hinesburg Road in South Burlington. He said his team has been trying for years with no success.

“The process has dragged on a long time, so to preserve our property right- we submitted a plan under the existing rules, not the proposed rule.,” Nick explained. He said an interim by-law in place prevented their permit from being approved this week. City officials told Nick the Hinesburg Road property was home to a habitat.

South Burlington’s director of planning and zoning, Paul Conner, said the proposed rule serves several purposes. “It was to really identify what our most important natural areas are and protect those,” Conner said. “And another was to use tools like planned unit developments, to make sure when land is developed, it’s developed in a smart compact manner.”

But the lack of industrial space goes far beyond South Burlington. Esther Lotz, a commercial real estate broker of 32 years, said it’s happening all over Chittenden County. “Industrial, which is warehousing, manufacturing. That all is not enough supply and is in high demand,” Lotz explained.

She said commercial and retail spaces were seeing a boom once things opened back up. However, supply and demand are about even.

Nick said the vacancy rate for industrial space is less than 4% across the county and even lower in South Burlington. He said with applications like theirs being denied, it could drive businesses away from Chittenden County. “Already you’re seeing more rural areas developed, which is counter intuitive to what Vermont wants to be,” he explained.

Meanwhile, the companies ONE LOGIC and Beta Technologies got green lights from the city of South Burlington to begin work on large scale industrial projects. Conner said they expect more of these projects to happen as the pandemic cools down.

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