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Looming new trial increases legal costs in Hartford high-stakes ballpark lawsuit

image Dunkin Donuts Park
Photo Credit: Photo Flight Aerial Media /Hartford Hawks

According to an article authored by Kenneth R. Gosselin and published in the Hartford Courant dated Sunday, August 7, 2022, the state Supreme Court has ordered a new trial in response to the developers’ appeal of the 2019 ruling by jurors that sided with the City of Hartford’s decision to terminate Centerplan Construction Company and DoNo Hartford, LLC as builders of the proposed $71 million city-taxpayers’ funded 6,000-seat Dunkin’ Donuts Park stadium. The project also included a future mixed use development (apartments and storefronts) around the ballpark.  The City’s basis for terminating the developers highlighted missed construction deadlines, cost overruns, and incomplete work.

The article continues that Centerplan and DoNo are seeking $90 million in damages for wrongful termination on basis that the delays were due to changes ordered by the City.  It is expected that this new trial will be more complex because the City had subsequently hired a new builder for the storefronts and apartments around Dunkin Donuts Park, and even more costly than the first trial because of the time that will be expended to examine the stadium plans and determine who ordered the alleged changes.   Mayor Bronin alleges that failure to terminate Centerplan would have cost the Hartford taxpayers “tens of millions” additional dollars and the City would have neither a baseball team nor a baseball stadium to validate the expenditure.

The stadium was competed in time for the 2017 minor league season after Centerplan’s surety company stepped up and hired a new contractor to correct and finish the work at a cost of $40 million dollars. Further details may be viewed on the Hartford Courant website.

Plans for Hartford Marijuana Shop stalled due to Zoning issues

An article authored by Kenneth R. Gosselin and published in the Hartford Courant dated July 28, 2022, provides a recent update on the zoning dispute between the City of Hartford’s department of development services and the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA). The strong CRDA objection to the City’s department of developmental services’ endorsement of the proposal for Hartford’s first adult-use cannabis shop at 89 Arch Street (corner of Arch Street and Columbus Boulevard) in the Front Street community was upheld.

CRDA argued that zoning throughout Front Street and the broader Adriaen’s Landing development district (which includes Arch Street) in Hartford falls within its purview. Based on submitted land and remediation surveys and master development plans that dates back to 2000 when Adriaen’s Landing was developed, the committee concluded that the property located at 89 Arch Street falls within the CRDA zoning jurisdiction.

The CRDA opposes the cannabis shop on the basis of long-standing agreements to shape developments that prohibit uses including check-cashing, pawn shops, firearm sellers, the sale of pornographic items, head shops, and cannabis sales. The article continues that in response to the Zoning Commission’s decision to uphold CRDA zoning jurisdiction, Derrick C. Gibbs, Jr., a partner in the proposed cannabis shop commented, “We tried our best. We thought it was a good location. We’ll go to another city. It’s not a big deal.”

The above information was excerpted from the Hartford Courant. Contact Kenneth R. Gosselin at kgosselin@courant.com for additional details.

First phase of $50M North Crossing Development

The North Crossing transformative development located downtown Hartford – South of Dunkin Donuts Park and around the corner from the XL Center-  is nearing completion. The Pennant, is the first of North Crossing’s residences. The developers RMS advocate that once completed, this development will feature a mix of residential, parking and retail buildings that combine historic Hartford charm with a modern, contemporary design.

The final $50 million project will consist of 270 apartments, a 330 parking space garage, and 11,000 square feet of retail space . It is lauded as a live-work-play development with unparalleled amenities that are custom designed for the Urban lifestyle. Pre-leasing of phase-1 began on May 15, 2022.

Additional details are available in the Hartford Courant publication dated Friday, July 15, 2022, authored by Kenneth R. Gosselin, and on the RMS website.

Resource Credit: RMS and Kenneth R. Gosselin/Hartford Courant

 

Hartford food truck project delayed

On February 28, 2022, the Hartford Business Journal published an article authored by Zachary Vasile, reporting that investors Rebeca and Quan Quach had filed plans with the City of Hartford to establish a food truck park dubbed “West Side Park” on the vacant lot at 510 Farmington Avenue.  The proposed operation entails four food trucks and a double-decker bus that also serves food. Further information is located on the HBJ website.

However, a recent article authored by Kenneth R. Gosselin in the Hartford Courant, on June 27, 2022,  regarding the status of plans for the “West Side Park” indicates that the opening of Hartford’s first food truck park at the corner of Farmington and Girard avenues in the City’s West End  that was previously scheduled for May, 2022, is now delayed until early July, 2022.

The article continues that the investors attributed the delay to problems resulting from a combination of their own inexperience with the intricacies of dealing with multiple city departments on a project that had no existing zoning regulations, and the slow responses from city departments to their questions. Further information may be gleaned from the Hartford Courant’s website.

Will Upper Albany project come through?

In an article published by the Hartford Courant, Kenneth Gosselin asked the question (titled) above and referenced the redevelopment plans for revitalizing the Upper Albany area in Hartford, CT.  The article continues that the vacant parcel of land located at the corner of Albany Avenue and Woodland Street in the heart of Upper Albany could hold the key to making the neighborhood an area of destination instead of simply a pass-through between the suburbs and downtown Hartford.

This is a $15M development plan that will include a 2-level sit-down restaurant with rooftop dining, a soon-to-be-named national retailer,  a bank branch, a community room, and a relocated City Health Department and WIC offices.  Further details may be viewed on page 3 of the Hartford Courant dated June 20, 2022.

Upper Albany Main Street (UAMS) Program Receives National Accreditation

CT Main Street Center (CMSC), on June 15, 2022, awarded its 2022 National Accreditation to Upper Albany Main Street (UAMS) and three other Main Street programs.  This designation as an Accredited Main Street America™ program was awarded in recognition of UAMS’s exceptional commitment to preservation-based economic development and community revitalization via the Main Street Approach™ while meeting rigorous performance standards.

According to the CMSC news release, “The impact and performance of Upper Albany Main Street, Westville Village Renaissance Alliance, Simsbury Main Street Partnership, and Main Street Waterbury is annually evaluated by Connecticut Main Street Center, which works in partnership with Main Street America to identify the local programs that meet rigorous national performance standards. Evaluation criteria determines the communities that are building meaningful and sustainable revitalization programs and include standards such as, fostering strong public-private partnerships, supporting small and locally owned businesses, and actively preserving historic places, spaces, and cultural assets.

Kimberley Parsons-Whitaker, Interim CEO of CMSC said, “We congratulate our Main Street programs in Upper Albany, Westville Village, Simsbury, and Waterbury for their continued dedication to bringing their Main Streets back to life and ensuring their long-term success. The ability of these programs to effectively address the needs of small and micro businesses while continuing to engage a variety of community stakeholders to ensure their Main Streets are vibrant and inclusive is critical to the economic and social health of our entire state,”

Patrice Frey, President & CEO of Main Street America said, “We are extremely proud to recognize this year’s 863 nationally Accredited Main Street America programs that have worked tirelessly to advance economic vitality and quality of life in their downtowns and commercial districts” .. “During another incredibly challenging year, these programs demonstrated the power of the Main Street movement to respond to the needs of their communities. I am inspired by their steadfast leadership and innovative solutions to drive essential local recovery efforts, support small businesses, and nurture vibrant downtown districts.”

Further information can be viewed online at https://ctmainstreet.org/press-release-four-cmsc-members-receive-national-accreditation/

 

 

 

Housing and restaurants included in proposal for development in Hartford

An article authored by Kenneth R. Gosselin published in the Hartford Courant on June 17,2022,  reports that the Capital Regional Development Authority (CRDA) will begin evaluating  four proposals for the Performing Arts initiative on a two-acre parcel of barren expanse as a major redevelopment near the Bushnell Center.

It is reported that the proposals call for 250 to 350 units of housing, split between 80 percent market-rate and 20 percent  affordable 25,000 square feet of commercial space, and various plans for parking garages. The vision is to create a stronger, walkable connection between Bushnell Park, the nearby Hartford Hospital district and Park Street, and extending to Colt Park.  Further information can be viewed  on Hartford Courant online at https://www.courant.com/community/hartford/hc-biz-hartford-bushnell-south-proposals-20220616-i2t65d7mtbed3ozui232gjurqm-story.html

Image Resource Credit: Mark Mirko / Hartford Courant.

Zoning Dispute between City of Hartford & CRDA

In  an article appearing on the front page of the Hartford Courant on  June 16, 2022,  Kenneth R. Gosselin reported that the future of recreational marijuana seemed to have taken a downturn as the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) strongly opposes the approval of a cannabis shop at the 89 Arch Street, across from the convention center.  Plans for the cannabis shop were endorsed by the City of Hartford’s planning and zoning department that contends it has zoning purview for the Arch Street parcel, but the CRDA  argues otherwise.  In a virtual  hearing  on Tuesday, June 14, 2022,  the issue was tabled until June 28 to allow time to determine which agency has zoning purview.

The article continues,  “In a letter to the commission, Hartford City Council President Maly D. Rosado also urged caution, asking the commission to withhold any vote “until city leaders can develop a more robust plan on the sale of legal cannabis within Hartford.”

Additional information regarding this issue may be viewed by accessing the Hartford Courant online or the PressReader website at https://pressreader.com/article/281479280078338

Image Resource Credit: Douglas Hook / Hartford Courant.

Upper Albany Main Street Helps Revitalize Hartford

In a recent interview with the Metro Hartford Alliance, the Executive Director of Upper Albany Main Street (UAMS), Marilyn Risi, responded to questions including:

“NAN: How was UAMS involved these improvements?

MARILYN: UAMS has provided a design committee meeting every month for the past 22 years. We’ve been involved in coordinating the streetscape projects and providing community input into many other projects that are being supported by the city and or state.

Our monthly meetings include representatives from the city, state, and the other agencies, including the MetroHartford Alliance, Hartford’s Neighborhood Revitalization Zones (NRZ), and the Blue Hills Civic Association, along with stakeholders from Saint Francis Hospital, the University of Hartford, and other local businesses. They have the opportunity to provide input into the development of the avenue, rather than someone coming in and telling them what is going to happen.

There have been many changes to both the city and to the Upper Albany area, but the mission remains the same. We are mission-focused. We support the residential issues. However, our main focus is to be a “one-stop shop” for the business owners lining Albany and Homestead Avenues. We really stepped in during the pandemic when business owners needed help with emergency grants. We serviced more than 100 businesses. Each one of them got $7,500 to assist them through the COVID-19 downturn when many had to close shop and deal with challenges related to the pandemic.

NAN: What would you say is your biggest accomplishment with this organization?

MARILYN: The investment in the community. The University of Hartford coming to Albany Avenue—that was a big deal. And to see the growth of some of the small businesses. That gives you a lot of pride. Our job has always been to improve what is here and attract that which will be complimentary. And what came provided more business to the existing businesses. This is a very important piece, because it’s always been about economic development.”

The entire interview may be viewed on the Hartford Chamber of Commerce website that is located at https://www.hartfordchamberct.com/about-us/newsroom/upper-albany-main-street-helps-revitalize-hartford/ and the Metro Hartford Alliance website at https://www.metrohartford.com/about-us/newsroom/upper-albany-main-street-helps-revitalize-hartford/

A Celebration of Life

The body of Islyn “Fay” Santouse, former UAMA President, was laid to rest at the Mt. St. Benedict Cemetery on Saturday, February 26, 2022.

Hartford North-End Residents struggle with storms, flooding, sewage backups — and question racial inequity

 

This excerpt from Kenneth R. Gosselin’s article that was published in the Hartford Courant on October 29, 2021, illuminates only a fragment of the existing level of frustration being faced by residents and business owners in the Hartford North End after experiencing major flooding by the late summer storm Fred and Hurricane Ida. The images contained in this post are credited to Gosselin/Mirko/Hartford Courant.  According to the article, the questions and comments of these constituents include:

“Why is it that people in the Upper Albany area area, the Blue Hills area, the Granby Street area and all those areas that are predominately Black are having to deal with these issues?” said June Lyons, a resident on Sargeant Street whose basement flooded during Storm Fred in August. “Why can’t it be rectified? I really do think this is part of environmental injustice and the
inequalities that we have to deal with…People are just fed up…It’s just really frustrating to know that every time it rains, you think, ‘ah, damn.’ You’re just constantly checking to see whether or not there is going to be some flooding.”

The article reported that June Lyons, currently runs a business out of her home selling body butter and other skincare products. Over the years, she has dealt with modest
water back-ups in her basement which made her finally purchase plastic storage tubs to reduce the volume things to drag out, dry out and put back. However, Lyons was not prepared for the near two feet of water in her basement after Fred hit.  This resulted in damage costing $7,000 to repair. In the image above (2nd from the top), Lyons shows a video in which she can be heard sloshing through her flooded basement, and she explained another sound. “That’s me, crying,” Lyons said. “There was a lot of water, but thank God, I didn’t have any sewer.”

The article continues…landlord Alburn Montague owns property located a couple blocks away from Lyon’s property.  His was a more traumatic experience because the flooding from Ida, caused raw sewage to back-up into the basement of his apartment building, and knock out the controls to the six boilers that heat four apartments and two storefronts. “It was a strong odor down here,” Montague said. “I threw bleach and things down here to help, too.” In the image above (last one at the bottom) Montague points a flashlight toward the boilers where high-water marks were visible, despite the boilers being up on cinderblocks. He asserted that costs to repair the damages will run in the tens of thousands of dollars.

According to the article, the MDC explained that in Upper Albany, the combined sewer and storm water systems on Albany Avenue likely need to be separated. The project could cost $20 million to $35 million, the MDC says, coming just a few scant years after a major, $30 million road and streetscape project was completed.  Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said the city is working with the MDC on short- and long-term resolutions, with separating sewer and storm water systems in mind. In some cases, special valves can control back-ups, Bronin said. But despite any upgrades, the underground pipe system in Hartford is nearly a century old in many parts of the city and even new, larger pipes still may not be able to handle sudden, violent downpours, Bronin said. “At the end of the day, this is a problem that we feel extreme urgency to fix,” Bronin said. “But we also have to acknowledge that it’s the result of changing weather patterns that are going to change the way we live in this community and every community.”

For more details, read the complete article.