Hotel project languishes

Architect says project ‘is still active’

By Jason Starr

Observer staff

Construction of a hotel on Blair Park Road started too quickly in January. Now it appears to be languishing. 

The Williston Planning and Zoning Department issued a violation notice to the Vermont Hotel Group in January for a false start — commencing construction of the four-story, 96-room Hyatt without first obtaining an administrative permit and paying $117,000 in impact fees. Tucked into a parking lot in front of a UPS Store and Ski the East headquarters and behind the Williston Post Office, the hotel received Development Review Board approval in 2019.

The violation was cleared and construction began over the winter. Then, with an underground parking lot built and the beginnings of the first floor in the works, the project stalled in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic. Construction has not resumed as pandemic restrictions have lifted.

In August, the Burlington Free Press reported that the project is likely to be paused for the rest of the year. The Observer could not reach landowner David Zhang of the Vermont Hotel Group for comment. The architect of the building, Marc Dowling of G4 Design Studios in Burlington, said Monday that Zhang disputes the Free Press report.

“It’s still active within our office, and he’s told us it’s not on hold,” Dowling said.

Abigail Dery of Trudell Consulting Engineers — the Blair Park Road firm spearheading the project for Zhang — did not return calls seeking comment.

On Tuesday, a solitary man stood atop the concrete foundation, appearing to be taking notes. That’s in line with what Ski The East co-founder Chris James has been seeing out his office window over the past couple months. 

“It seems like they are tinkering around at it here and there, but the major construction seems stalled at this point,” he said. 

Dowling said the owner has not given him an opening date to work toward.