A vision for Hartford's 'Downtown North'

The partnership of Centerplan Development Co. and LeylandAlliance has proposed this conceptual plan for developing Hartford's Downtown North area. (Urban Design Associates / August 25, 2014)

HARTFORD — Centerplan Development Co., part of a partnership hoping to develop Downtown North, moved to buy a key building in the area soon after plans for a minor league ballpark were announced.

The pending sale of the Windsor Street building — a long-vacant data-processing center last occupied by Bank of America — became public in late June.

Centerplan, based in Middletown, confirmed Monday that it moved to acquire the building as soon as it became clear the city intended to seek broad proposals for the entire Downtown North area, spurred on by a plans for the ballpark. The plans were publicly announced June 4.

"As soon as we heard there would be [requests for proposals], we pursued the property," Yves-Georges A. Joseph II, vice president of development at Centerplan, said. "We knew it would be an important part of the assemblage."

Joseph declined to discuss the price or other details of the contract.

The property was under contract in early June, just days after the city announced the plan to move the Rock Cats from New Britain to Hartford. The purchase is expected to close by the end of the year, brokers have said.

The partnership headed by Centerplan and New York-based LeylandAlliance is one of three bidders for the Downtown North area, and one of two that has a broad vision for redeveloping what is now a jumble of vacant properties and parking lots.

The building was built in 1971 and has been vacant for six years.

A conceptual site plan shows the processing center property at 150 Windsor St. would be redeveloped into 228 units of housing with two levels of parking containing 320 spaces; a garage with three levels and 210 spaces; and 46,000 square feet for Thomas Hooker Brewing Co.'s brew pub and brewery. On top of the garage would be a Little League field.

The existing building was one of the 13 sites proposed for the University of Connecticut's downtown Hartford campus. (UConn ultimately selected the former Hartford Times building near Front Street.)

Overall, Centerplan and LeylandAlliance have proposed the ballpark; more than 650 residential units; nearly 110,000 square feet of retail space, including a 25,000-square-foot grocery store; and five parking structures with 1,405 parking spaces. All together, buildings and parking would total 1.5 million square feet and cost an estimated $350 million.

A competing $217 million proposal by Boston-based CV Properties LLC includes a new municipal office building, a ballpark and a garage. The company has said it would partner with other interested developers "to advance the housing and retail components of the project."

In addition, Hooker Brewing submitted a proposal to relocate its operations to the area. Both Centerplan/LeylandAlliance and CV Properties have included Hooker Brewing in their plans.

Joseph said the site plan it submitted with its bid is conceptual and could be altered as the development process unfolds.

City leaders expect to present a plan for development of the area to the city council in early September.

On July 2, Hartford issued a request for proposals, calling for creation of "a new neighborhood" north of downtown with a mixed-use development of at least 300 housing units and townhomes, and more than 100,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and commercial space — including a supermarket, public open spaces, parking structures and a minor league ballpark.