Sitting alongside Lake Champlain, The Moran Municipal Power Plant in Burlington, Vt. is a relic of another time. The power plant spent its life turning coal into energy for the growing city and was even the main source of power in the 1970s. In 1986, the struggle to keep up with demand was becoming problematic and the plant was retired. Joining the ranks of the abandoned factories and train depots that dot the American landscape, the Moran Power Plant has been an eyesore. While numerous plans have been put into place over the years to try and make something out of this old building, nothing has been able to make the all-important leap from concept to reality.

Until now.

Rendering of Moran Plant Redevelopment.

Rendering of Moran Plant Redevelopment with rooftop gardening.

Enter Tad Cooke and Erick Crockenber. The two have gone from childhood friends to founders of Room 9 Redevelopment and set their sights on the Moran Power Plant as a redevelopment project.

All too often, community based plans never get off the ground. Tad and Erick have been a different story. Taking to social media and traditional social networking, they were able to successfully launch a KickStarter Campaign to raise money to properly put together their plan for the plant. With close to 200 backers, they exceeded their goal and were able to get a decent plan before the city, and eventually before the voters.

On March 4th, Burlington voters approved measures that not only call for Moran Plant redevelopment, but better bike path access, a new marina, and a sustainability park were included in that vote as well. They’re off to the races, and if things stay on track, Burlington is going to look very different in five years.

Cooke and Crockenber are thinking big with their plan New Moran. Transforming single purpose buildings into mixed-use is nothing new, and it is a trend that is picking up around the country. The larger a facility is, the more difficult it becomes to re-purpose it. Not many single entities can fill the space, so numerous entities are almost certainly required in order to make the re-purposing of a power plant a reality. The numerous amount of mixed-uses being brought to the plant itself as a result of this plan include:

  • A community research & development hub and pre-incubation space.
  • A community media studio.
  • Restaurant and nano-brewery.
  • Educational and recreational spaces.
  • A place for public art.
  • A “Great Room” with seating for 1,500 people to accommodate large indoor events
New Moran exterior rendering.

New Moran exterior rendering.

New Moran is also taking the “farm to table” concept to about as local as one can get. With the addition of a restaurant, a rooftop garden was put in place to supply it. The result is that a lot of the food in the restaurant will be supplied from the roof; It won’t even have to leave the building to go from growth to your lunch.

The garden is part of a collaborative effort with the Vermont Community Garden Network and will be between 1,200 and 1,500 square feet. This focus on empowering local food systems that are both sustainable and commercially viable should help VCGN projects in the long run.

The plan is a win-win for everyone involved. The money, while approved via a ballot measure, will not require taxes from residents.  Instead, will be funded through a tax increment financing (TIF) district authority, which gets revenue from local businesses who operate downtown.

The numbers are estimated to look something like this (All figures from the New Moran master plan):

  • Construction-based Initial Economic Impact: $41.8 million
  • Increased Value of Publicly Owned Property: $7 million
  • Ongoing Annual Economic Impact: $15.4 million
  • New City Tax Revenue: $171,000
  • Ongoing Direct Economical Impact from Food and Drinks, Events, and tourism: $5.9 million
  • Ongoing Indirect Economic Impact: $9.3 million
  • Between 150-200 jobs between full time (70), part time (79) and others

With this project, Burlington is going to look very attractive in the years to come, with added tax revenue that can help spark other investment and incentives as the economy improves.

The next step? Finding and empowering the Tad Cooke and Erick Crockenbers around the country and giving them the tools to make things happen in their local communities.

Check out the architectural renderings below to see how, floor-by-floor, Moran is going to go from a hideous reminder of Vermont’s coal powered past to a green beacon of hope for its future.