Cottonwood Crossing to break ground

An architectural rendering (courtesy of Allen Brook Development) of phase one of Cottonwood Crossing, set to break ground on Williston Road this summer.
An architectural rendering
(courtesy of Allen Brook Development) of phase one of Cottonwood Crossing, set to break ground on Williston Road this summer.

Former driving range and pipeline staging area transforming into mixed-use development

By Jason Starr

Observer staff

The 17 vacant acres next to Maple Tree Place that were once the site of a golf driving range are on the verge of a five-phase residential and commercial makeover.

Landowner Allen Brook Development plans to break ground this summer on a mixed-use neighborhood called Cottonwood Crossing. The Williston Road parcel was once considered for a Target store and more recently was a staging area for Vermont Gas’ controversial southern pipeline expansion — as well as a protest site for activists opposed to the pipeline. Allen Brook had similar mixed-use development plans for the parcel about eight years ago, but let the permits expire.

The Williston Development Review Board approved the renewed master plan and phase one of the project last November.

Phase one consists of three buildings totaling 35,000 square feet of commercial/restaurant space and 46 one- and two-bedroom apartments. The total five phases will consist of roughly 70,000 square feet of commercial space and 200 residences. The buildings will be two and three stories tall with underground parking.

Allen Brook Development Project Manager Brian Bertsch said the company is focusing on two projects in Essex during the early part of the construction season, and will begin work at Cottonwood Crossing by mid-summer.

One of the first noticeable changes will be the removal of the 100-foot wooden poles that once served to hold the netting that kept golf balls from flying out of the old driving range. The poles are among the tallest structures in the area.

“We will hopefully find a way to repurpose those somewhere else,” Bertsch said. “They are tall. I’m sure folks in town will be happy to see them go.”

The project is designed in quadrants around a central square. It connects via a road extension and pedestrian path to Maple Tree Place. Although the master plan is approved, subsequent phases of the project will require separate Development Review Board approvals.

“This fits right in with Williston’s town plan and the vision the state is pushing for, which is development in the growth center for efficient use of amenities,” Bertsch said.

Williston Director of Planning and Zoning Ken Belliveau anticipates about a decade for Cottonwood Crossing’s full buildout.

“By Williston standards, this is a significant development,” he said.

The buildings are designed by Black River Design architects of Montpelier. The landscaping is designed by Michael Lawrence Associates of Essex Junction.