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Council approves rezoning to allow hotel’s conversion into apts. to attract millennials

Burlington’s city council has given the all-clear to an out-of-state company’s plans to transform one Maple Avenue motel into an apartment complex tailored for the “millennial market.”

The council unanimously approved a rezoning request on Tuesday that will enable Manhattan-based GoodHomes Communities to undertake this proposed metamorphosis of the Maple Motel – whose grounds at 2444 Maple Avenue are located just off the interstate interchange for I-85/40. Under the company’s plans, these roadside accommodations would be repurposed to serve a more settled clientele, who will be able to lease the site’s 135 proposed apartments in increments of one year at a time.

In theory, the property’s new zoning also allows this 5.24-acre site to be used for either a hotel or motel, or for a restaurant with both indoor and outdoor seating. But it’s the option of multi-family housing that has really captured GoodHomes’ imagination, according to Frank Longest, a local attorney who has represented the company in its request to the city.

“The project, if it’s consummated, is going to be targeted toward millennials,” Longest went on to explain when he presented his client’s plans to the council on Tuesday. “We think that the multi-family apartment conversion is a good use for our community and a nice presentation to the public as a doorway into Burlington.”

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This vision was later fleshed out by David Mitchell, an executive with GoodHomes who had come down from the company’s home office on Madison Avenue.  Mitchell told the council that his company has a successful track record of transforming old hotels and motels into affordably-priced rental apartments.

David Mitchell of GoodHomes Communities, New York City

“GoodHomes’ mission is really to create vibrant, exciting communities,” he went on to add. “We focus on obsolete hospitality assets – hotels; and we put an enormous amount of investment into taking these hotel structures and creating very exciting places to live.”

Mitchell said that, over the past 15 years, GoodHomes has completed 23 of these hotel-to-apartment conversions in 15 different states. He added that, in the case of Burlington’s Maple Motel, the company intends to set up 135 one-bedroom units – along with amenities such as a refurbished swimming pool, a game room, a fitness center, and storage for the site’s future tenants.

Mitchell told the council that he hopes to offer these apartments to young people with incomes ranging from $35,000 to $80,000 at rates of $800 to $900 a month.

“As I travel throughout the country,” he added, “I find that there is a tremendous shortage in this type of housing…So, we’re taking this property – a hotel which is transient by definition and nature – and creating [housing for] citizens who live and work in Burlington.”

In the end, Mitchell was able to clinch the deal with Burlington’s five-member council. Particularly impressed by his pitch was councilmember Kathy Hykes, who made the motion to approve the company’s rezoning request.

“I like the price point,” Hykes declared before the council’s 5-to-0 decision. “I think it is what we’re missing in our community, and that area could use rejuvenation. I think this is a wonderful project.”

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