THE MORAN PLANT
“The redevelopment of the Moran Plant has been a long-held desire, yet elusive challenge, for the City. It’s expansive size and rich history presents a tremendous opportunity for creative adaptive reuse that can serve as an important anchor for the northern end of the waterfront.” Burlington's PlanBTV, page 122 - adopted June 2013
The Moran Plant is one of few remaining historic, brick, industrial buildings just northwest of what is now Burlington's Waterfront Park. Constructed in 1954 for the Burlington Electric Department, Moran operated until 1986. Despite many attempts at redevelopment, the building has remained vacant since.
Over the past twenty years, citizens have demonstrated strong support for the public use of the waterfront, resulting in a dramatic transformation of the area into a major recreation and cultural resource. Due to its inspiring interior space, high costs of demolition and significance in Burlington's industrial history, Moran has been slated for redevelopment.
As part of an open public process initiated by the Mayor of Burlington, we are creating a proposal to reclaim Moran as a publicly accessible, financially sustainable, city-owned and non-profit managed waterfront landmark. While we're putting it all together as unpaid community members, we need your support to cover the creative and design expenses demanded by a strong, thorough concept for the Moran Plant. These expenses do not fund the renovation of the building, but rather the professional expertise (architecture, engineering, financial analysis & construction estimates) needed for to create a convincing, financially and structurally sound proposal.
Our project strives to fully embody the creative potential for re-use of the Moran Plant, preserving its industrial history, while bolstering the economic revitalization and community reclamation of Burlington’s waterfront.
A new Moran can be the transition area between heritage and innovation. It is where communities meet, celebrate and innovate.
After a humbling ride to our $18,000 goal, we're dedicating all additional fundraising to a program of public events, arts and good community energy at Moran and the surrounding site in the next four months. Not only will this work let us share the building with the public, but we think it will be an important part of building support for the Moran project as we approach the March 15th public vote. If you've already contributed, we'd love your help spreading the word; if you haven't, we can very much use your support!
Thanks and please read on for more details on the project.
Our plan retains, to every extent possible, the Moran building’s open space and industrial character while showcasing year-round Vermont’s vibrant artistic, cultural and agricultural communities. By restoring the character and reinventing the value of a landmark structure, a new Moran not only preserves the heritage of our formerly industrial waterfront, but represents a catalyst for year-round traffic and activity.
Burlington's Front Porch
Support the creation of a vibrant, culturally rich year-round waterfront
Civic spaces are the heart of the community. Our Moran design creates a powerful new focal point for community events, conferences, conventions, workshops, education, performance, and arts installation at a scale otherwise unimaginable - and sorely needed - in Burlington.
Leveraging local leadership in artisan crafts, green technology and community media
We believe Moran can build the physical infrastructure for serendipitous interactions between residents, visitors and local leaders in technology, non-profits, the agricultural community and a thriving creative culture.
As Burlington’s answer to the creative economy, “Generator” is a non-profit Maker Organization providing tools, classes and 30-60 flexible studio spaces to support the community intersection of art, science and technology. Generator intends to offer a wide range of courses, demonstrations and training sessions to members and nonmembers alike.
Alongside Generator, an in-house Community Media Studio provides the equipment to process and disseminate media from Moran-building events, building a portfolio for the building and local organizations while providing technology and media education. This non-profit studio, run by local leaders in community access media and technology, serves as Burlington’s hub for grassroots community technology education.
A net-positive impact on our environment and society
Our new Moran will reduce GHG emissions, produce more electricity than it consumes, purify wastewater internally, mitigate stormwater on-site and deliver improved air quality for building residents and visitors. Furthermore, the building will showcase these technologies, creating a living, working legacy for the building’s heritage and present innovation.
Strengthening the Local Food System:
Sourcing, serving, supporting and showcasing local agriculture
A focus on food systems and agriculture not only highlights local food production in the food we serve, but connects local producers and processors with the technical resources of Generator and the Community Media Studio to promote their products, build their brand, and inspire innovation at the intersection of agriculture, energy, art, and technology. Through this process we hope to spark an interest that will lead outside of Moran to other local agricultural leaders such as the Intervale Foundation, Vermont Community Garden Network and the Vermont Farm-to-School program.
Along with a local farm-to-table restaurant group, we're working with a Burlington brewer to host a nano-brewery for tastings, classes and competitive brewing residencies that highlight ingredients from Vermont's farmers and producers. Tying it all together, Burlington's AO Glass Works is helping us design a system that heats the brewery's kettles with excess heat from an on-site glass studio. Creative energy at work.
This design phase of the process culminates on October 17th when we submit a formal proposal to the City of Burlington (hopefully with the support of this Kickstarter!). If our proposal is chosen as a recipient for public investment, the design will go before City Council in January of 2014. If the project is approved by City Council, the project will go before the people of Burlington in March of 2014 as one element of a slate of waterfront projects. If successful through those hurdles, we anticipate renovation beginning on Moran in September or October of 2014.
Vermont natives and University of Vermont seniors, we’re applying four years of study, independent research and project management in sustainable agriculture and renewable energy to develop the vision and project planning for this design. At the University of Vermont, we have written, received and managed several competitive project grants including the UVM Public Research & Creative Endeavors Grant (2011 - $5000), an SGA Grant for Extracurricular Research (2012 - $2000), and a Clean Energy Fund Project Grant (2011-present - $58,000). We began researching the Moran Plant in July of 2012. Since then, we’ve made an effort to bother anyone and everyone willing to listen in our effort to form a viable redevelopment proposal for Burlington’s 25 year challenge of the waterfront Moran Plant.
To make it happen, we have the privilege of working with an experienced, driven team of professionals from the Burlington community and beyond.
Our professional partners include:
- Vision and Non-profit leadership: Charlie Tipper
- Architecture: Smith-Buckley Architects
- Finance & Project Management: Jeffry Glassberg, Renaissance Development Company
- Construction Estimation: PC Construction
- Civil/Structural Engineering: Engineering Ventures
- Energy Strategy & Finance: BETTER P3
- Engineered Wastewater Systems: John Todd Ecological Design
- Philanthropic Support To-Date: Vermont Community Foundation
RFP-Stage Fiscal Agent: Preservation Trust of Vermont
To date, significant program partners include:
Food & Drink: The Vermont Community Garden Network, The Farmhouse Group and Zero Gravity Craft Brewery
Arts & Artisan: ‘Generator’ Maker Space, Burlington City Arts (BCA) and AO Glass Studio
Community Media/Technology: Bradley Holt & Jason Pelletier - Found Line, BTV Gig & Code for BTV (a Code for America Brigade)
Recreation: Burlington Parks & Recreation
Events: Crothers Productions
Key Advisors include:
- John Killacky, Flynn Center for the Performing Arts
- Michael Metz & Denise Shekerjian, 'Generator'
- Doreen Kraft, BCA
- Katharine Montstream, Montstream Studio
- Chad Farrell, Encore Redevelopment
- Nick Richardson, Vermont Land Trust
- Michael Jager, JDK Design
- Paul Bruhn, Preservation Trust of Vermont
While we are still involved in a competitive process for public funding, we would also like to thank Peter Owens, Kirsten Merriman Shapiro, Nathan Wildfire of Burlington's Community and Economic Development Office for their assistance not just to our team, but to each team in the greater public process, and for their commitment to open, transparent public investment in the waterfront.
A final thank you
To the inspiring artist Sarah O'Donnell, who's current Moran installation creates the beautiful color spread seen on the cover photo of our video. More than creating an inspiring photo, Sarah's work as brought new life and attention to the long vacant building. We're glad she did!
The Good Stuff
As a thank you, we will be sending a digital copy of our final proposal, floor plans and architectural renderings to all supporters. We also have some very cool rewards including Moran Plant prints, postcards and wallets from our beautiful, talented team member Katharine Montstream; limited hand-blown glass from AO Glass Works; original lamps from the Moran Plant, refurbished and rewired with the help of the impossibly creative Steve Conant of Burlington's Conant Metal and Light; photographic Moran prints from Burlington artist and photographer Mary Zompetti; limited-edition ceramic Moran pendants from Burlington City Arts and extensive building tours with our team, Katharine Montstream and a qualified member of city staff (note: this will require signing waivers in order to comply with city policy).
Risks and challenges
Despite a variety of attempts at redevelopment, the Moran plant has remained vacant since 1986. There are a number of challenges that have contributed to the difficultly of implementing an adaptive-reuse effort in the building. The work we are doing now goes towards forming a concept that must still be accepted by the City of Burlington. Project funding does not guarantee the success of the project.
Risks to our current plan and project proposal:
As an open public process, our work is subject to all manner of financial, political and community-based pressures. While we are working closely with the City and proposers for the surrounding Moran site, there is always a chance that forces outside of our control (politics, the newspaper, a change in public funding) will affect the process, and with it, our ability to continue the Moran project.
We've been working with a number of great professional partners and potential tenants, but it's possible that any of the above factors could also cause one or some of our partners to drop out of the process.
While the local community has been very supportive, Moran is a long-standing challenge with people who believe it should be torn down and others that believe it should be something other than what we are proposing. It's our job to create the most thorough plan we can, putting our best foot forward for anyone with concerns. By supporting our effort, you're saying "I know this is a big challenge, and I trust you guys to do everything you can to make it happen".
Risks in the larger project if our project is successful:
As a former coal plant, Moran presents a particular architectural challenge in forming a year round, energy efficient and publicly accessible building. We are working with a talented local team of architects, engineers and environmental scientists to recognize those structural challenges, address any residual contamination and build a creative design based on the wealth of knowledge accumulated over the last ~25 years.
To reclaim Moran as a community resource will take significant financial resources. If this design project is successfully funded, it is possible we will then not be able to identify or secure adequate funding to follow through on the design and re-open the building. To address that risk, we're working closely with the City of Burlington and experts familiar with the building to review existing cost estimates, available public funding and the operating structure necessary to keep our new Moran a self-sustaining non-profit institution.
We have a vetted 'fall-back' plan which will secure the building structurally and re-open it on a seasonal basis for community events. If we are not successful in implementing the full vision, we will actively pursue the pared-down seasonal scenario in order to save the building and open it to the public.
Permitting and Public Process
The Moran site is overseen by 17 separate regulatory bodies, not including the Burlington public. While many permits have already been explored or addressed by previous planning efforts, all represent potential roadblocks for the project moving forward and they all must be addressed in order to move forward. To meet this challenge, we are working closely with the City of Burlington and local professionals who will represent the project to state regulatory bodies so the design can meet all possible requirements from the start.
We are not professional developers, city planners or building contractors; at its core, our team is composed of private citizens. We are, however, committed, driven members of Burlington's very close-knit community. That community hosts a wide range of experienced professionals, and the team we have identified (detailed above), has every bit of experience necessary to pull off a project of this magnitude.
So from us and the whole project team, thank you for your support!
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