HARTFORD — The lead developer for the Storrs Center project near UConn is part of a group that wants to redevelop Downtown North, a project that includes a 9,000-seat minor league baseball stadium.
New York-based LeylandAlliance, the master developer of the residential and retail development in Mansfield, and Centerplan Cos., with headquarters in Middletown, are leading a partnership proposing a plan for Downtown North.
"Our proposal is a comprehensive plan for the whole DoNo area, including the stadium," Howard Kaufman, managing member of LeylandAlliance, said Tuesday. The group submitted one of four bids to the city of Hartford.
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Kaufman said the partnership includes Hartford-based JCJ Architecture and Urban Design Associates, based in Pittsburgh, The latter is working on LeylandAlliance's $220 million, mixed-use Storrs Center project.
Kaufman said neither LeylandAlliance nor Centerplan has experience in building stadiums, but they have recruited a member who does. He declined to identify the member Tuesday. Kaufman also would not discuss the specifics of the proposal.
The Storrs Center development, on the southern edge of UConn's campus, was intended to create a downtown area that Mansfield has lacked. The development includes shops, restaurants, a grocery store and hundreds of apartments. Town houses and condominiums also are planned.
City officials in Hartford have a similar idea in mind, resurrecting a part of downtown that fell into decline after I-84 divided the city in the 1960s. Most of the buildings in the area were eventually demolished — the "Butt Ugly" building one of the last in 2010 — leaving only an unattractive jumble of parking lots.
LeylandAlliance and Centerplan Cos. were hired by Middletown earlier this year to complete a study of the Metro Square area. The study would explore how Metro Square could be redeveloped to include commercial and residential space. The firms are expected to present their results to the city council this month.
Centerplan Cos. has been particularly active in New Haven, where it is constructing a $50 million mixed-use development at the corner of College and George streets. Centerplan also is playing a role in the redevelopment of the Route 34 connector — the "highway to nowhere," much of which was never built.
Storrs Center is now close to wrapping up its second year of construction. The project is being privately developed in conjunction with the Mansfield Downtown Partnership, a coalition of town, university, business and community members that formed more than a decade ago to guide the project through the planning and permitting process. Though most of the construction has gone smoothly, there was a tussle early on with organized labor over hiring union and local workers and last year, the town turned down a proposal to include a hotel in the master plan.
On July 2, Hartford issued a request for proposals, calling for the creation of "a new neighborhood" with a mixed-use development of at least 300 housing units and townhomes, and more than 100,000 gross square feet of ground-floor retail and commercial space — including a supermarket, public open spaces, parking structures and a minor league ballpark.
The overall development could cost $500 million or more, city officials have said.
Hartford administrators have proposed building a 220,000-square-foot stadium to lure the New Britain Rock Cats, the Double A Eastern League affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, to the city. That project would cost up to $60 million, and the city is seeking private partners to help shoulder the cost.
Construction on the ballpark would be completed by April 1, 2016, officials said, in time for that year's season.
Curt Cameron, the owner of Bloomfield-based Hooker Brewing Co., told The Courant Monday that he also submitted one of the proposals. Cameron said he intends to build a 50,000-square-foot brewery, restaurant and beer garden on North Main Street, across from the proposed stadium.
The total cost of his plan is estimated to be $10 million to $15 million. Cameron said he expects that his beers would be among those sold in the ballpark.
The city's request for proposals said finalists would be notified by Friday and interviews would take place on Aug. 14 and 15, with the goal of selecting by Aug. 18 the plans it will bring to the city council.
Thomas Deller, the city's director of development services, said a recommendation could be presented to the council in early September.
Deller said he had reviewed the development proposals for the first time Tuesday morning. He is on vacation this week, but stopped by his office briefly Tuesday.
Deller declined to release more information about the bidders, saying he had to meet with Mayor Pedro Segarra about the project.
Courant Staff Writer Shawn Beals contributed to this story.