Category Archives: Commercial Construction

Michigan Company To Develop Outlet Center On Rentschler Field

by Categorized: Commercial Construction, Stores and Restaurants Date:
An outlet mall would be built near The Stadium at Rentschler Field under a development agreement. Map Courtesy of Horizon Group Properties Inc. with additions by The Hartford Courant.

An outlet mall would be built near The Stadium at Rentschler Field under a development agreement. Map Courtesy of Horizon Group Properties Inc. with additions by The Hartford Courant.

A Michigan company has signed an agreement to develop an outlet shopping center on Rentschler Field in East Hartford that would open in 2016.

Horizon Group Properties Inc. said late Wednesday the 350,000-square-foot — to be named “The Outlet Shoppes at Rentschler Field — would include covered walkways and landscaped courtyards, plus a center court.

Horizon did not name any of the brands that would be in the outlet mall. A development cost also was not disclosed in a news release.

The announcement comes two weeks after the state and United Technologies Corp., which owns the majority of Rentschler Field, announced a deal that includes the construction of a new corporate headquarters for Pratt & Whitney nearby.

Horizon and Hartford-based UTC did not immediately respond to emails this morning seeking further comment. The Matos Development Group, Rentschler Field’s master developer, also did not respond.

The outlet center would be the first retail development on Rentschler since the opening of Cabela’s in 2007.

Horizon is the second developer to seek to develop a retail-oriented development on Rentschler. A year ago, Utah-based OTB Destinations had signed a letter of intent with UTC to build a retail and entertainment complex on the former airstrip. The status of those plans was unclear early today.

Any plans would still require state and local approvals.

Horizon’s web site shows it operates seven outlet centers nationwide, the closest to Connecticut being in Gettysburg, Pa. Horizon has three more centers in development and is looking to develop another two sites. East Hartford is not shown on a map plotting Horizon’s footprint.

Outlets mentioned on the site include Aeropostale, Coach, Gap, Polo Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger.

Horizon said the site would accommodate a 50,000-square-foot expansion.

“We look forward to developing this property,” Gary J. Skoien, Horizon’s chief executive, said. “Rentschler Field has been a recognized location and destination to the people of Hartford and Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, and other surrounding states for many years.”

Horizon said the center is projected to generate more than $130 million in annual sales a.nd $1.2 million in property taxes and $8.2 million in sales taxes.

The outlet center would be part of a much larger development of 650 acres

In 2004, UTC chose Matos as the master developer. Matos envisioned a build-out of between 15 and 23 years, culminating in 2030.

 

New Haven Coliseum Site Redevelopment Set To Begin Next Year

by Categorized: Commercial Construction Date:

The redevelopment of the former New Haven Coliseum site is set to begin next year, now that a key agreement with the developer has been approved by the city.

Rendering of planned redevelopment of old Coliseum site in New Haven.

Rendering of planned redevelopment of old Coliseum site in New Haven. Courtesy of Live Work Learn Play.

The board of aldermen unanimously approved a development and land sale agreement late Monday with the Montreal-based developer who plans a $300 million-plus development of 700 residential units, an office tower, shops, restaurants and a hotel.

Developer Live Work Learn Play plans a range of housing options, including low, moderate and workforce housing. The project also calls for leasing to 35 small to mid-size businesses, plus up to 20 seasonal, incubator businesses.

The project is expected to take seven to ten years to complete and create 4,700 construction jobs. Once completed, the as-yet unnamed development will create 2,800 permanent jobs.

The redevelopment is part of the larger, “Downtown Crossing” project that seeks to reconnect the city, separated by the construction of the Route 34 connector in the 1960s. The connector was never completed.

The Coliseum prior to its demolition in 2007. (AP Photo/Bob Child)

The Coliseum prior to its demolition in 2007. (AP Photo/Bob Child)

A portion of the connector has already been closed and construction of a new $100 million headquarters building for Alexion Pharamaceuticals is underway.

“This project will create significant tax revenues for the city together along with construction and permanent jobs and will have a long term effect of revitalizing an underutilized area within the central business district as well as helping to create the conditions necessary for future commercial development throughout the city,” Mayor John DeStefano Jr. said, in a statement.

Private Financing For ‘Bioscience Connecticut’ At UConn Health Center

by Categorized: Commercial Construction Date:

The state’s Bioscience Connecticut initiative — aimed at building the industry’s stature in the state — is getting a $203 million boost in private financing for construction at the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington.

Rendering of new outpatient building and parking garage at the University of Connecticut Health Center. Courtesy of UConn.

Rendering of new outpatient building and parking garage at the University of Connecticut Health Center. Courtesy of UConn.

TIAA-CREF and the health center today announced the 25-year loan, which officials say is the only private financing component of the $864 million bioscience initiative. The funds provided by the loan will be used for construction and equipment at the health center’s 307,000-square-foot ambulatory care building scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2014 and open to the public the following January.

A key component to the bioscience initiative is the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine, which is nearby to the health center. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy pushed the state to lend Jackson $291 million to entice them to build a genetics research facility in Farmington.

Click here to see more renderings of the Bioscience Connecticut project.

“This public-private partnership between the UConn Health Center and TIAA-CREF is a win-win for Connecticut,” Malloy said, in a release. “A state-of-the-art outpatient care facility will allow the health center to better recruit top talent and address the medical needs of the community.”

The new, ambulatory care building will bring outpatients services, now scattered in multiple buildings, under one roof, also fostering collaboration among the center’s staff.

Facade of outpatient building, now under construction. Rendering courtesy of UConn.

Facade of outpatient building, now under construction. Rendering courtesy of UConn.

The $203 million loan is structured as a credit tenant loan. The loans allow the property owner to finance construction and other expenses and uses a percentage of future rent to pay off the loans.

TIAA-CREF, a national financial services firm with $523 billion of assets under management, also provides retirement services in the academic, research, medical and cultural fields. TIAA-CREF has about $4 billion invested in universities and health-care institutions, a slice of its real estate investments.

In Connecticut, TIAA-CREF manages $10 billion in assets, including $1 billion in state of Connecticut retirement assets. In addition, it manages $2 billion for the CHET College Savings Plan account holders.

TIAA-CREF has $5.5 billion in real estate and other investments in Connecticut.

“With this investment, we are truly advancing the long-term interests of our clients and the state of Connecticut while fulfilling our own mission to support the financial strength of nonprofit institutions and employees,” Robert Leary, president of TIAA-CREF asset management, said.

 Read more about the initiative in this story by my colleague Bill Weir.

Return Of A Nighttime Landmark In Waterbury

by Categorized: Commercial Construction Date:
there are plans to bring back a lighted cross that stood on a prominent hill in Waterbury for decades. Photo by Stephen Dunn/sdunn@courant.com.

There are plans to bring back a lighted cross that stood  for decades on a prominent hill in Waterbury. The cross is shown in this photo from 2008. Photo by Stephen Dunn/sdunn@courant.com.

My colleague Bernie Davidow reports:

The giant illuminated Christian cross that once dominated the Waterbury night — and was the centerpiece for a religious attraction called Holy Land, U.S.A. — would be restored under a plan announced Friday by Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary.

O’Leary said he and a friend, Fred “Fritz” Blasius, joined forces to form a limited liability company that will buy the 17-acre Holy Land property on a hill just south of I-84. He said that he had “personally” formed the partnership — Holy Land Waterbury, U.S.A. — with Blasius, and that the two had signed a purchase and sale agreement on June 20.

Read Bernie’s story here.

Hartford Office Supply Building Again Targeted For Apartment Conversion

by Categorized: Commercial Construction, Hartford Redevelopment Date:

A developer that plans to convert a downtown office building into apartments is looking at another similar project that could boost Hartford’s Frog Hollow neighborhood.

Plans to convert the  former Hartford Office Supply Co. building at the corner of Capitol Avenue and Flower Street into apartments may be resurrected. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/The Hartford Courant.

Plans to convert the former Hartford Office Supply Co. building at the corner of Capitol Avenue and Flower Street into apartments may be resurrected.
Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/The Hartford Courant.

Dakota Partners, Inc. of Waltham, Mass. has an option to purchase the long-vacant, Hartford Office Supply Co. building at 390 Capitol Ave. — and could resurrect a failed 2008 plan to convert the building into about 115 apartments, city officials told me today.

The 150,000-square-foot building would be purchased out of a foreclosure for unpaid city taxes. The purchase price or the redevelopment price tag couldn’t be determined this afternoon. Dakota did not immediately return a telephone call and an email seeking comment.

Read more about the foreclosure here.

Thomas E. Deller, the city’s chief development officer, said further city backing isn’t needed because approvals from 2008 are still in force.  Financing would still need to be lined up, however, and the developers are seeking funding from the state Department of Economic and Community Development for the project, Deller said. If the purchase goes through, construction wouldn’t likely begin until next spring, he said.

See a map of the area and a photo gallery of the building.

Dakota also is seeking to convert the former office building at 179 Allyn St. near Union Station into 63 market-rate apartments. The $14.7 million project has been approved for $6.5 million in funding by the Capital Region Development Authority. The funding still needs the approval of the State Bond Commission.

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Mohegan Sun Palmer Shopping Area Plans Dwarf CT Casino Retail Space

by Categorized: Commercial Construction Date:

Mohegan Sun’s plans for a $775 million resort casino in Palmer, Mass. include shopping, dining and entertainment space that would be more than twice the size of its Connecticut venue, the casino operator said today.

The plans include 300,000 square feet of retail space compared with 130,000 square feet at The Shops at Mohegan Sun, according to spokeswoman Cathy Soper.

Mohegan also said today it will partner with Boston-based Finard Properties to develop the retail portion of the resort casino. Mohegan said it hopes the partnership will bolster its efforts to obtain a casino license for western Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is expected to issue one license for the region, and there are competing proposals for Springfield and West Springfield.

A rendering of Mohegan Sun's proposed resort casino in Palmer, Mass. Courtesy of Mohegan Sun.

A rendering of Mohegan Sun’s proposed resort casino in Palmer, Mass. Courtesy of Mohegan Sun.

Finard, a commercial real estate firm, specializes in retail development.

“The portfolio of hugely success of hugely successful Finard Properties’ development is spread literally throughout every corner of New England and beyond,” said Mitchell Etess, chief executive of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority. “Their creativity and expertise will be a huge asset to our application for the western Massachusetts gaming license.”

A spokeswoman said design of the shopping area and securing of tenants won’t begin unless Mohegan secures the license.

The retail plans for the resort are separate from ones announced earlier this month by Northeast Realty Associates for land adjoining the 152-acre casino site. Those plans include retail space, a hotel, a lifestyle center and office space, according to a report in The Day of New London.

CREC Expands Into Another Building In Hartford’s Colt Complex

by Categorized: Commercial Construction, Hartford Redevelopment Date:
Work is well underway on converting a vacant office building in Hartford's Colt complex into a magnet high school. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/kgosselin@courant.com

Work is well underway on converting a vacant office building in Hartford’s Colt complex into a magnet high school. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/kgosselin@courant.com

The Capitol Region Education Council, the largest tenant at Hartford’s Colt Gateway, is getting even bigger — expanding into yet another building in the former gun manufacturing complex.

CREC is redeveloping a former office building at the corner of Sequassen Street and Van Dyke Avenue into a high school magnet that will eventually bring as many as 750 students to the area, CREC’s chief operating officer Sandy Cruz-Serrano told me today.

The $5 million to $6 million project is expected to be ready for students this fall, Cruz-Serrano said.

The office building is just north of the iconic East Armory. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/kgosselin@courant.com

The former office building is just north of the iconic East Armory. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/kgosselin@courant.com

“We’re thrilled that the Colt Gateway folks have allowed us to use that facility, Cruz-Serrano said.

CREC is paying for the top-to-bottom renovation with state funding and will lease the space from Colt Gateway.

With the addition of the building, CREC will occupy about 200,000 square feet, or a nearly a third of the 630,000-square-foot complex, known for its iconic, blue onion-shape dome.

When this latest redevelopment is complete, CREC will lease space in six of the complex’s 10 buildings. The programs include a school for children diagnosed with autism and a performing arts academy.

Larry Dooley, of CG Management, which took over as developer of the complex in 2010, said it remains the plan to sign a variety of tenants for the commercial space in the complex as it redeveloped.

“And CREC understands that,” Dooley told me.

CREC does hope to occupy some space in the East Armory, once it is renovated, to expand its performing arts program, Cruz-Serrano said.

Cruz-Serrano told me that the high school will provide the secondary grades for the Two Rivers Middle Magnet School across the river. The expansion grew out of the requirements of the landmark, school desegregation Sheff v. O’Neill case, Cruz-Serrano said.

CREC had tested out a ninth grade program last year in space in the South Armory and found strong interest, attracting 100 students.

A rendering of the completed high school building. Source: Friar Associates Inc./Maier Design Group LLC

A rendering of the completed high school building. Source: Friar Associates Inc./Maier Design Group LLC

The redevelopment will incorporate highly-wired “super labs” catering to such course of studies as aeronautic engineering, robotics and environmental science, Cruz-Serrano said.

The 45,000-square-foot, 3-story building was constructed in 1942 and once served as the headquarters office for Colt.

Last year, the Corporation for Independent Living considered buying the building but later abandoned those plans.

Just north of the domed East Armory, the building — known simply as the U-Shaped Building after its shape —  has been vacant for years and its condition has steadily worsened, Dooley said.

Dooley said the exterior — including windows — are being restored in keeping with state historic standards.

See my story from last summer on why now is a critical turning point. And here are graphics from the story and a photo gallery in and around the 10 buildings on the site.

State Closes On First Of Two Office Buildings For Consolidation

by Categorized: Commercial Construction, Hartford Redevelopment Date:
The state has closed on purchase of 55 Farmington Ave. in Hartford's Asylum Hill. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/kgosselin@courant.com

The state has closed on purchase of 55 Farmington Ave. in Hartford’s Asylum Hill. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/kgosselin@courant.com

The state has closed on the purchase of the first of two, Hartford office buildings where the state intends to consolidate state workers.

The $18 million purchase of the 12-story, 287,000-square-foot tower at 55 Farmington Ave. in Asylum Hill closed Tuesday, state officials said today. The office building was sold by The Hartford Financial Services Group, which is consolidating office space as the insurer’s workforce shrinks.

Financing for the purchase, plus another $19.5 million for renovations, has been approved by the State Bond Commission.

The state expects to close on the second office building — the twin-towered Connecticut River Plaza this summer, state officials said.

Office workers at the state-owned 25 Sigourney St., Hartford are expected to move to 55 Farmington Ave. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/kgosselin@courant.com.

Office workers at the state-owned 25 Sigourney St., Hartford are expected to move to 55 Farmington Ave. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/kgosselin@courant.com.

The state plans to begin moving into 55 Farmington Ave. next year, most likely transferring workers from the  20-story, state-owned building at 25 Sigourney St.

In the past decade, the state has spent millions to try to fix water leaks and mold troubles, with mixed success. A portion of its crumbling parking garage was shut down last year.

The occupants of the Sigourney Street building include the departments of Revenue Services and Social Services.

 

 

 

 

 

Architects Skype Their Way In Designing Chinese Prep School

by Categorized: Commercial Construction Date:

 

Centerbrook Architects has landed its first assignment in China: designing the interior spaces for a sprawling, one-million-square-foot prep school in Beijing.

But the Essex-based firm won’t step foot in the country to do it.

“As much as we would love to visit China, to walk the site and to meet with the stakeholders in person, as we normally do,” said Centerbrook partner Mark Simon, “our assignment in this case is to communicate and design via long distance on a fast track pace.”

That means using Go-To-Meeting, Skype and Newforma to share complex design files. And surprisingly, the time difference isn’t a problem.

“We can send materials out in the evening, and the response from team members in China is waiting for us when we turn on our computers the next morning,” Simon said.

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High Hopes For $220 Million Storrs Center Near UConn

by Categorized: Commercial Construction, Stores and Restaurants, Uncategorized Date:

A decades-old vision for bringing a vibrant downtown area just south of the University of Connecticut campus in Storrs is starting to become a reality. It will still take years to fully complete the $220 million Storrs Center development, but the first buildings are now complete.

The project is a collaboration between private developer LeylandAlliance of Tuxedo, N.Y., Education Realty Trust of Memphis, Tenn. and the Mansfield Downtown Partnership. The partnership includes the town of Mansfield, UConn, businesses and community leaders.

Click on my video interviews with Howard Kaufman, managing member of LeylandAlliance, and Cynthia van Zelm, executive director of the downtown partnership. They talk about their hopes for the development.