Recently, Melinda had a chance to sit down with Dan D’Ambrosio of the Burlington Free Press for an interview about her successes in Burlington and as CEO of Main Street Landing. When asked, “Why Vermont?” Melinda had this to say:
I have been in Vermont for 40 years. I’ve been here since I was 22 years old. I am in Vermont because I love the people, I love the natural environment, I love the independence and the entrepreneurial spirit of Vermonters, and I love the forward-thinking politics of Vermont. I feel at peace. I feel very peaceful in Vermont. I feel safe and I feel at one with Vermont.
Here is a PDF version of the article.
Main Street Landing has been in business since 1982. We are entering our 30th year of being on Burlington’s Waterfront creating positive change. Thirty years ago the Burlington Waterfront was a place that most parents told their children to stay away from. It was full of rail tracks, barbed wire fencing, a scrap metal yard, grainery with a handsome rat population, empty brick buildings, and overgrown weeds and shrubs. Just imagine living in Burlington during that time and never going to the waterfront because it just wasn’t a place where people were supposed to go. The Union Station was then owned by The Green Mountain Power Company, and the Haigh Mill and McKenzie Buildings were abandoned. The Pease Grainery and McNeil Power Plant were still in operation, but soon to be closed down. The tall brick chimney at the Haigh Mill reached lonely into the sky as did the Pease Grain Tower. Both structures were considered historic although in disrepair. It took years before the City of Burlington would allow Main Street Landing to have them removed. They were icons of a time long ago when the Burlington Waterfront hosted Presidents and yachtsmen, children on sleds, and ladies in big hats arriving from New York by train or steamship.
The Burlington Waterfront fell into decay at the end of the majestic steamship and railroad era. Let us just look at the waterfront today. We have a Community SailingCenter, ECHO and the Leahy Science Center, a Skate Park, daycare, performing arts center, restaurants, bike path, park and boardwalk, beautiful trees and flowering shrubs, renovated historic buildings alive with commerce and retail, numerous visual arts venues, a tourist lake boating industry, and outdoor summer festivals that bring tens of thousands of people to the shores of Lake Champlain each year.
In just thirty short years, the Burlington Waterfront has been transformed into one of the top locations that tourists visit when coming to Vermont.
This next year – 2012 – is an exciting year for Main Street Landing. We are producing a 45-minute DVD on the History of Burlington’s Waterfront which takes our history show created in 1983 and updates it to present day. There is a wonderful historic narration that follows 600-historic images and supported by a beautiful musical sound track. Being premiered in February, 2012, at the Film House, we will also distribute the DVD to schools, libraries, and organizations interested in learning and teaching the rich and vibrant history of our Waterfront.
Main Street Landing’s Performing Arts Center in the Lake & College Building at Sixty Lake Street is a versatile and distinct daily rental facility. Mariah Riggs is its Director, and Ren Hall is the Daily Rental Dude who assists clients who utilize the daily rental spaces. There are seven spaces in the building that range from the state-of-the-art Film House with a capacity of 220 people to the intimate Board Room for meetings of thirty-five people or less. Main Street Landing strives to assist their daily clients with personalized professional care and diligent customer service. If you are planning a business meeting, art opening, conference, concert, dramatic play, or film screening, Main Street Landing has a space that will fit your needs. The Gallery is our new daily rental space that will feature changing artwork by local artists and is designed to be utilized for a wide-range of uses from meetings to events.
“Movies at Main Street Landing” is a new project which premiered on November 15th, 2011 with the Wizard of Oz to benefit the United Way of Chittenden County. We are bringing great cinema to the big screen for free to the people of the Burlington area. This is a weekly event every Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in the Film House at Sixty Lake Street. It is designed to benefit the people of the area both culturally and as a fundraising tool for local non-profits. We will work with a different non-profit each month. We create the established event, and they can shape it to fit their own vision. The film selection will focus on a different “theme of the month”. For example February is “A month with Oscar” and the movies that are scheduled are some of the most critically acclaimed films ever made like “Gone with the Wind”, and “The Godfather”. The movies are shown as they were intended in Dolby Digital surround sound and on a 25’ screen. This series is Main Street Landing’s way to foster cinematic appreciation in our community. Movies at Main Street Landing is about cultural enrichment – both through supporting charitable organizations, and also by bringing classic and great cinema-for-free to the Burlington citizenry.
This article was taken from vermontbiz.com
Sitting in my office on the third floor of Union Station, looking out over the waterfront and the empty train tracks running in front of the building, I can’t help but remember when 200 people sang “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” as the Champlain Flyer chugged into Burlington. I often reminisce about Twentieth Century Fox filming “Me Myself and Irene” with Jim Carrey and Renee Zellweger in Union Station, and my tears of joy as Amtrak pulled into the station and sat there for three days as the back drop to Carrey’s hysterical antics.
Let’s face it, Burlington deserves passenger train service. Wouldn’t we all benefit from being able to leave our cars at home and travel in the comfort and freedom of rail? I believe most people love trains and will ride them. So why is it that I’m still waiting for the train?
Look at the rich history of rail in Burlington. It was in 1850 that the Rutland Railroad established a straight rail route north to Burlington, known as the Western Corridor — this was 160 years ago. Burlington grew up and around rail, and it was rail that helped define Burlington as the destination for folks coming to Vermont.
The last passenger train (except for the short-lived Champlain Flyer) stopped running in 1950 (the year I was born) and the train station was sold to Green Mountain Power. In 1985, Main Street Landing purchased the station and turned it into an artist community. Then, in 1997, 10,000 square feet was added to the 1916 building to create what we see today, the Main Street Landing Train Station.
We have the station, yet for over 60 years, Burlington has not had sustained passenger rail service coming into that station. So, let’ s look at the economic and social benefits of rail. According to a study this year by the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, rail transit provides a positive return on investment. Direct transportation cost savings average about $450 annually per capita, and it increases regional Advertisement employment, business activity and productivity. The rail can contribute to urban redevelopment, and property values increase near rail stations. Quality transit improves mobility for nondrivers, improves community livability, and improves public health.
The Vermont Rail Action Network has analyzed the environmental benefits of rail and concludes: “44% of greenhouse gasses in Vermont are produced by transportation (nationally, it’s 28%). Shipping by rail instead of truck reduces pollution (on average) by two-thirds, noise by one half, and uses only 29% of the fuel, and produces only 23% as much greenhouse gasses. The U S. transportation system is 96% petroleum dependent, accounts for 71% of the country’s oil use, and consumes 25% of the world’s net output. Passenger trains are 20 to 40% more efficient. Passenger service means improved rail infrastructure which will help accommodate better freight service to and from Vermont. A fifty-car train takes 300 semi-trucks off our highways, and many of Vermont’s businesses have large bulk commodity needs not being met right now by rail.”
Again, we must ask ourselves, if rail can help our economy, support the social fabric of our communities, and benefit our environment — what’s the hold up here? I believe it’s political will and lack of leadership. And, of course, our love affair with our automobile. But things are going to change in a big way as people rise up and demand alternatives to roadway travel. Why? Because the dollar drives human desire and ultimately the marketplace. Economic, fast, efficient and comfortable rail travel will become a welcomed alternative for many in the coming years ahead.
Since Peter Shumlin has become governor, an exciting can-do attitude for rail radiates from the Statehouse. Under the leadership of the Agency of Transportation Secretary, Brian Searles (also the AOT Secretary for Howard Dean), Amtrak is expected to pull into Union Station within three years. Conversations are under way with Canada to continue Amtrak from Burlington to Montreal by solving the customs delay. We will see a six-hour train ride from Burlington to New York. One thousand people a day could be arriving at the Queen City looking for hotel rooms, restaurants, shops and cultural amenities.
Just imagine the economic jolt to Vermont’ s economy when ski trains, tourist trains, scenic autumn trains, vacation trains, commuter trains and interstate trains connecting Washington, New York and Advertisement Burlington to Montreal, start rolling into town. Just imagine it, and keep that little tune in the back of your mind … “Don’t you hear the whistle blowing?Rise up so early in the morn.Don’t you hear the captain shouting“Dinah, blow your horn?”
Burlington Free Press
Innovation to me means developing and implementing new ideas, policies and procedures that change our way of thinking, our products, our communities and our world. Focusing your vision toward a goal that strongly references your values and ethics can create a truly inspirational and innovative business.
Main Street Landing for the past 30 years has focused the redevelopment of Burlington’s waterfront on ecology and social justice. Our commitment to localism and community, public transit, economic empowerment, the arts, green development, healthy and energy efficient buildings, and public access grew out of our deep and profound connection to the earth and the human condition. Companies that landed here decades ago were founded by a generation steeped in environmentalism and social justice, and they are rocking our economic world. Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield created an empire with an idea that ice cream should be made with pure local products, housed in bright Holstein packaging, with funny and cool (no pun intended) names and recipes that touch the child within us.
Jeffrey Hollander and Alan Newman, co-founders of Seventh Generation, decided in 1988 that cleaning products should be made of ingredients that won’t harm the environment, and that everyone should honor the American Native belief that we should protect the environment for the next seven generations.
Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, founded by Beth Sachs and Blair Hamilton in 1986, is dedicated to reducing the economic, social and environmental costs of energy consumption through cost-effective energy efficiency and renewable technologies.
NRG, founded by Jan and Dave Blittersdorf in 1982, manufactures products that measure and understand the wind.
Jake Burton, founder of Burton Snowboard, was so innovative that he created a whole new snow sport that has taken the world by storm.
Bob Stiller founded Green Mountain Coffee in 1981, and they have transformed the way the world understands business because they believe that financial success goes hand-in-hand with their ability to make a difference in the world.
Then we have Will Raap, who in 1983 founded Gardener’s Supply, an employee-owned company that provides gardeners with innovative products. Raap went on to create the Intervale Center, a nonprofit in downtown Burlington that hosts a variety of farms growing organic food. All but one of these businesses are members of Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility, the largest business organization of its type in the country with 1,500 members.
These types of Vermont businesses usually operate under a different business model. They treat and manage their personnel differently; they use unique and creative marketing and public relations methods; and they usually focus their goals and resources on protecting the environment and raising the human condition. They are also the companies that are receiving the awards and earning accolades as the fastest growing and most successful businesses in Vermont.
It’s thinking out of the box and the coloring outside of the lines that usually defines the business model that makes the world a better place, sustains the economy, serves local citizens and enjoys a high profit margin. These companies are bold, unique, inspirational and magnificent, and they are economic engines that have brought Vermont international attention and gratitude. Today, more of these businesses are being created by a younger generation whose lives have been affected by climate change, 9/11, economic hardships and the global marketplace.
As Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, said: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
Melinda Moulton is the chief executive officer of Main Street Landing in Burlington.
View this article in the Burlington Free Press
Melinda Moulton, CEO Main Street Landing, co-chair
Main Street Landing commissioned Doug Hoffer to provide a study that looks at the
Economic Footprint of the Arts in Vermont. Download and Read the PDF
On November 17, 2010, Main Street Landing was featured in the Burlington Free Press for the study on the economic impact of the arts on Vermont. Read the Burlington Free Press Article
Burlington Free Press
ESSEX JUNCTION — Melinda Moulton has been waiting more than a dozen years for Amtrak to pull into Burlington’s Union Station.
A day after residents learned The Vermonter line won a $50.5 million grant — helping slice 80 minutes off a trip from St. Albans to New York City and Washington, D.C. — rail advocates and state officials considered how best to rebound from the rejection a $71.5 million grant application to connect Burlington to the Ethan Allen Express and New York’s Penn Station.
Moulton, CEO and redeveloper of Main Street Landing, renovated the Burlington train station in 1997. She is pleased that stimulus money will support high-speed rail in Vermont, but bemoaned Burlington’s rejection.
“The state’s largest city needs to have rail service,” Moulton said.
Gov. Jim Douglas said efforts continue to search for money to build the “western corridor,” which would bring trains to Burlington. “That was our first choice,” Douglas said. “We’re still looking for ways to make that happen.”
Options include shuffling other federal stimulus money or going back and asking Congress for additional support, he said.
Moulton has another suggestion: “I built the station, and I waited and waited for the train,” she said. “Let’s get Amtrak to Burlington. This is a no-brainer. We have an earmark that is sitting there for this. Let’s spend it. Let’s get it done,” she said, referring to more than $20 million secured by former Sen. Jim Jeffords.
Burlington was connected to the rail network in 1850 but hasn’t been served by passenger trains since 1953, according to Vermont Rail Action Network. The grants leaked Wednesday night were part of the $8 billion in stimulus money dedicated to improving the U.S. rail network. The Northeast won $485 million in grants, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. John Zicconi, a spokesman for the Vermont Transportation Agency, said the improvements to The Vermonter will create 411 jobs, 363 of which are in construction.
Tightening security restrictions, which have made air travel more time-consuming and arduous, and fuel prices, which are about $1 a gallon higher than a year ago, have combined to make train travel more appealing.
Soon-Ja Park, 74, who caught The Vermonter in Essex Junction on Thursday morning bound for New York City, usually flies JetBlue but finds the train “very relaxing,” particularly because train travelers don’t have to endure security and baggage checks.
Moulton said she continues to hope downtown Burlington will have train service by the end of 2011. “I don’t want to take my eye off that ball,” she said.
Vermont has $22 million to $23 million in federal money secured by Jeffords that is dedicated to the western corridor that has not been spent, said Jeff Munger, a former Jeffords aide who is a transportation policy adviser for Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
That money alone is insufficient to establish a Burlington rail link. “It would get us toward that, but I don’t think it would complete it,” said Christopher Parker, executive director of Vermont Rail Action Network.
Funding needs to be found, he said. “This is important. This is a priority for Vermont … . We are not dropping it,” Parker said.
Zicconi agreed. “We have not given up on the western corridor,” he said.
There might be another $2.5 billion in federal money available next year for more rail projects, he said. “It does look like there will be another round of grants,” Zicconi said. “We are very poised to submit this application again.”
A congressional earmark could also be used to supplement the money obtained by Jeffords. “That’s always a possibility,” Zicconi said. “If they were to come up with an earmark for that, we could definitely put it to work.”
Parker said how to get the money is “a question of strategy” on which the congressional delegation must take the lead.
In addition to winning funding for The Vermonter, the state also won $500,000 to help pay for a $1 million study for potential rail service between Rutland and Bennington, Zicconi said. That approval, he said, is “a very good harbinger for the future of the western corridor” and should encourage the state to continue efforts to secure the money for rail improvements.
‘The Vermonter’ boost
Combined with another $110 million in work that will be done along The Vermonter line in central Massachusetts and Connecticut, 80 minutes will be sliced from the total trip time. That would cut a trip from Essex Junction to New York to a little more than 8 hours, down from 9 hours and 40 minutes. The reduction puts the train closer to the drive-time, which is about six hours, depending on traffic.
New England Central Railway, which owns rail line in Vermont, also plans to invest $5 million to improve sections of the track. The roughly $55 million in improvements will allow speeds of up 79 mph, about 20 mph faster than the route’s current top speed, said Charles Hunter, director of state relations for Jacksonville, Fla.-based RailAmerica, the parent company of New England Central Railroad.
The improvements would shave about 30 minutes from a trip through Vermont, he said. The work will be complete within two years, Zicconi said, noting 45 miles of track will be improved.
People boarding the 9 a.m. southbound train from Essex Junction on Thursday morning praised the federal support.
Robert Hoehn, 23, was heading to Princeton, N.J., about an 11-hour journey. Shaving time off the trip is needed, he said. “There are really slow parts. It just drags and drags and drags.”
Hoehn said he passes the time by watching DVDs about Sherlock Holmes. “If you don’t have any form of entertainment, it’s really boring,” he said.
View this article in the Burlington Free Press
Since the early 1980’s, Melinda Moulton and Lisa Steele have pioneered environmental and socially responsible redevelopment. Their company, Main Street Landing, has been incrementally developing Burlington’s Waterfront, an endeavor that encompasses four buildings in one of the most important locales in the city.
What many people may not know is that Main Street Landing is home to one of the largest collections of art by Chittenden County artists and a hub of visual art activity. Union Station is home to the Art’s Alive Gallery, Katharine Montstream Studio, Green Mountain Photography, and Sue Miller’s Studio. The Wing Building hosts Artpath Gallery. Skinny Pancake in the Lake & College complex has rotating art exhibits. Scattered throughout the buildings is a remarkable collection of art, including some significant pieces of public art. In front of Union Station at One Main Street is Christopher Curtis’s sculpture, Venus. Lars-Erik Fisk’s Train Ball sits in the lower level and on the roof are Steve Larrabee’s Winged Monkeys. On the second floor of Union Station is a permanent exhibition of Peter Miller’s “Vermont Farm Women” photographs. In the lobby of the CornerStone Building at Three Main Street is Jack Chase’s sculpture, Mobile, and as you walk in, visitors are greeted by a large work-on-paper. A mural by Ron Hernandez is on the wall of the Lake Lobby of the Lake and College Building at the corner of Lake and College Streets. Throughout all of the buildings, art collected over the years dots the walls.
This cacophony of art is a far cry from how Moulton and Steele first found Union Station, their first building. “It was haunting to walk in here and walk into these empty cubicles and see the old dieffenbachia that had been there for two to three months while the building was going on the auction block, just lying on its side. It was all withered and dying and dead and then the phone lines coming out and the peeling paint and the chips and holes. And the green paint. I will never forget the green, institutional paint,” said Moulton.
When their initial plans for the building had to be shelved, Moulton and Steele began renting space to artists. One of their early tenants, Ed Owre, made a gallery out of the lobby of the building. By observing how people interacted with the art, the duo came to appreciate the power of art.
“I would see these young, impressionable, macho, strong guys stopping in the gallery and being very interested in Ed Owre’s work,” explained Moulton. “I knew the artists in the building were loving what Ed was doing, but if these guys, high school kids, young college boys, were psyched about this art, this is huge. That was when it kind of clicked in for Lisa and me, that we needed to do as much as we could.”
At every stage of the Waterfront’s development, Moulton and Steele included works of art. They are also active collectors, continuing to add new work. But unlike a lot of developers who commission a massive piece of public art that ends up sitting like a log on the lawn of the property or who hire a consultant to purchase a set of artwork, Moulton and Steele take a personalized approach. “The way it happens is so beautiful, because Lisa will call me and she’ll say, I saw this exhibit, I saw this piece of art…We have a lot of wallspace. It’s a lifelong thing,” Moulton said. Art is a way of occupying the buildings.
“The art is the living, breathing thing of the building,” said Moulton. “The building is built, it’s solid, it’s structure, it’s hard, it’s unmovable, it evokes its own big feeling when you see it. The art is the actual living…it’s the beating heart of the building. It’s what brings the emotion to the building. It’s extremely organic how it all happens.”
The combination of rotating exhibitions, working artist studios, and permanent installations is paying off in a business sense as well. Main Street Landing boasts a 4% vacancy rate, well below the 10% vacancy for Chittenden County reported last November and even lower than the average vacancy rate of 6.3% per year over the last decade. Part of the reason for this success lies in the role art plays in making the buildings spaces for the community. Whether it’s tourists visiting to photograph Steve Larrabee’s Monkeys or people breezing through during First Friday Art Walk, these commercial buildings are more than office spaces used only by the people who work in them. They are buildings for everyone to enjoy and art is one of the reasons to enjoy them.
In the office of Main Street Landing at Union Station hangs a watercolor of two red shoes by E. Bunsen. Moulton explains why Steele purchased the painting. “When we owned the Pease Grain Tower, I used to go in with my red high heels and shoot rats with water pistols to get the rats out of the way so I could check the building. The red shoes represented something to her. A lot of the art that’s in the building is something that represents something to one of us.” Take a tour of these buildings and one may find a piece of art that means something to you too.