Stratford Throws Potention SAEP Developers Into the Ring [Updated]
Outside of the federal government's efforts, the town of Stratford has been working with "two major developers" for the former Stratford Army Engine Plant property.
And now that the federal government has rejected the latest bid for the 78-acre brownfield (see article below dated Dec. 7), the General Services Administration (GSA) has the right to deal with other individual developers, according to Bruce Alessie, special projects coordinator for the town.
So the town has sent the two names to the GSA and is waiting to hear back on the potential for those "major players" to redevelop the vacant waterfront property, Alessie said.
Alessie was short on details about the developers but did say both are capable of remediating the contaminated land. He said they are both "financially deep enough to clear the site."
"This is the most positive we've been in years," he said.
Stratford Patch will continue to add to this story as updates are made available.
Feds Dismiss Lone Army Engine Plant Bid (Dec. 7)
The federal government has rejected the only proposal submitted to them this year to redevelop the former Stratford Army Engine Plant site, the Connecticut Post reports.
A spokesperson for the General Services Administration told the Post the bidder's $1 billion plan was rejected because it "did not provide assurances that the divestiture of the property would occur in a timely manner."
The company behind the bid was Milford-based Hartmann Development, LLC. Details of the now-failed proposal can be read below, in an article that was published on Stratford Patch on Nov. 22.
Bob Hartmann told the Post it was a "shame" his bid was not accepted.
Mayor Decries Latest Army Engine Plant Bid (Nov. 22)
Stratford Mayor John A. Harkins is pretty much fed up with what he calls the Army's failed attempts to find a "viable option" for redeveloping the former Stratford Army Engine Plant site.
The bidding process of the federal government, which owns the 78-acre brownfield property, is not working, he said.
The latest round of bidding closed on Nov. 18, and yielded one bid from a Milford-based developer who wants to transform the property into a waterfront boardwalk and village, along with TV and film studios, a trade school, a museum, a hotel, public and private marinas, a wellness spa and an outdoor theatre.
The developer, Hartmann Development, LLC, estimates the cost of the project at $1 billion, to be split 50/50 between the federal government and the developer. Hartmann said the project would create 8,000 jobs.
Harkins labeled the proposal as another failed attempt by the Army to secure a workable bid.
"At what point is the federal government going to admit that it has failed miserably in moving this property over the last decade and a half?" the mayor said in a statement. Harkins said the developer's plan wouldn't spur economic development at the site, which is currently referred to as "Point Stratford."
A Contamination Conflict
In order to redevelop the former Army Engine Plant, it first has to be mitigated of its environmental hazards left by the Army.
Under Hartmann's proposal, the federal government would pay $140 million for environmental remediation. The developer proposes to transform the contaminated property into a 3.5 million square foot LEED-certified and environmentally-safe workplace.
Although Harkins doesn't see Hartmann's proposal as viable for the town of Stratford, he agrees with the developer to the extent that the Army should pay for cleaning up its contaminated property.
"The Army needs to rip down the building and remediate the site to allow for economic development," he said. "Now is the time for action."
Recently-elected Councilman Craig Budnick (R-7) echoes the mayor's statement.
"I hate to liken it to childhood," the father of two told Stratford Patch on , "but they made the mess, they need to clean it up."
'The Future of the Town'
Town officials say they are frustrated and agitated with the way the Army is going about selling a piece of property that has the potential to give a nice boost to municipal tax revenue.
"It's the future of the town and the federal government is holding us hostage," Budnick said back on Nov. 8.
"That stagnant property means the world to residents," Councilman Christian Barnaby (R-1) told Patch, also on Election Night after being elected. He said the two have lacked a "clear and concise plan with proper foresight."
Meanwhile, the Harkins administration says it has been doing some homework of its own. The mayor said the town has met with its federal legislative delegation "for months on this issue," as well as "a number of business owners and developers interested in moving to Stratford."
Harkins also said his office "stands ready to inject the local economy with badly-needed economic activity and jobs."
"This site is critical to our future, and I look forward to working with our delegation in the near future to get this site back on the tax rolls and productive once again," the mayor said.
Editor's note: Details on Hartmann's proposed development were taken from this virtual presentation. The developer told the Connecticut Post acceptance of the bid is still pending and it needs political support to come to fruition.
Do you agree with the mayor's statement that Hartmann's proposal is not a "viable option" for development? What would you like to see on the property? Tell us in the comments below.