WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Changes to the Landscape in Downtown Burlington

Apr 30, 2021

Several projects are underway in downtown Burlington, including demolition of the old police station at Third and Columbia Streets.

The building has been reduced to a pile of rubble. The department moved out of the building in 2018; it had significant structural damage at the time.

Mayor Jon Billups said the city had been looking into options to tear it down when developer Merge LLC inquired about taking the lot as part of a project to build housing downtown.

The neighboring building, an old Moose Lodge, was also purchased to be torn down as part of the project.

The two old buildings will be replaced with a brand new structure that will include apartments and commercial space. Billups said the city agreed to pay a portion of the demolition cost, and the company will also be able to take advantage of Tax Increment Financing, or TIF to recoup some of their costs.

Billups said there's a demand for downtown housing right now.

"(It) kind of connects. We have quite a few buildings coming online with housing available, and we do have a housing shortage in Burlington believe it or not," Billups said.

“This generation that's coming up, it would seem that they prefer to have a place where they don't have to mow the yard."

Several other projects downtown will also create apartments, including the construction of the Tama Two building on Jefferson Street, which developer Doug Wells said will break ground next month.

The city is also planning on redeveloping the look of its downtown, with the help of the "Creative Placemaking" grant it received last year. An engineering firm is working on plans that could include creating art walkways and other aesthetic improvements.