Hartford Council  To Review Downtown Stadium Development Plan

A ballpark proposal from DoNo Hartford LLC.

HARTFORD — After months of discussion over who would redevelop a long-ignored area north of downtown, Mayor Pedro Segarra's office on Thursday sent its plan to the city council, which will review the project.

But a few council members expressed frustration over what they called a lack of detail in the proposals. Missing from the documents was how much, if anything, the city would contribute to the project, specifics on the annual lease payments to the developer for use of a minor league baseball stadium, and how the developer would finance the $350 million proposal.

Segarra's office said that it would send the council updated proposals on Friday.

Councilmen David MacDonald, Raul DeJesus and Larry Deutsch abstained Thursday from the vote to refer the measures to a committee.

"There's nothing here," MacDonald, a Democrat, said during a special meeting at city hall. "There's no detail in the resolutions. It's my understanding that the resolutions aren't even the final resolutions we will be voting on. It's atrocious."

Deutsch urged Segarra's office to release more information, including the full plans submitted by the two developers interested in building a minor league ballpark, housing and retail near Main and Trumbull streets.

The proposals will be reviewed by the council's operations, management, budget and legislative affairs committee and by the city's planning and zoning commission.

A public hearing on the matter is scheduled for Sept. 17 at 6:30 p.m. at the Parker Memorial Community Center, 2621 Main St. The council committee meeting will take place just before the hearing, beginning at 5 p.m.

Segarra, who did not attend Thursday's meeting, is seeking the council's approval to transfer 19 properties to DoNo Hartford LLC for $1 apiece "for the purpose of designing, developing and building a Double A Minor League baseball ballpark and mixed use development," according to a letter he sent to council President Shawn Wooden on Tuesday.

Segarra also is seeking the panel's approval to lease the ballpark from DoNo Hartford for 25 years, and then to sublease it to the owners of the New Britain Rock Cats. As part of that sublease, the city would receive $500,000 a year for the first 15 years, and $600,000 in each subsequent year.

City officials said Tuesday that they had chosen DoNo Hartford LLC, a group formed by Centerplan Development Co. and LeylandAlliance, to develop the land north of downtown. Centerplan is one of two master developers that bid for the project. The other is Boston-based CV Properties LLC.

Centerplan and LeylandAlliance have proposed building a ballpark, more than 210,000 square feet of municipal office space, more than 600 residential units and retail space that includes a supermarket.

JCJ Architecture, Sports Contracting Group, Urban Design Associates, Freeman Companies, BETA, McDowell Jewett and Greenskies Renewable Energy also are part of the development team.

A third proposal was submitted by Bloomfield-based Thomas Hooker Brewing Co., whose owner said he intends to build a 40,000-square-foot brewery, restaurant and beer garden on North Main Street, across from the baseball stadium. Centerplan's proposal features Hooker Brewing as part of its overall development.

Council members said Thursday that the municipal office space is likely to be removed from the final version of the plan. A vote on the project is expected in late September or early October.

"What was recommended to [the] council today is a proposal from a proven developer who is committed to investing over $350 million to create a vibrant mixed-use neighborhood in Downtown North," Segarra said in a statement released after the meeting Thursday.

Asked how Centerplan would finance the project, Yves-Georges A. Joseph II, the vice president of development for the company, said: "It's almost entirely made up of private debt and private equity capital. There is no state subsidy currently contemplated in the financing of that $350 million."

"We looked at Hartford for a number of years in terms of trying to find opportunities to do urban mixed-use developments," he said. "When we learned this opportunity was available in the downtown north neighborhood, we were obviously thrilled. We look forward to working with the city and with the community to deliver a plan that's really special."

Wooden said the plan would be carefully vetted.

"My objective is to take a vote on this as soon as we have enough information to properly assess it," he said. "We have to look at the details very closely."