New Britain City Journal

New Britain's Weekly Online Newspaper

Feature News

Change Coming

old-pd-station

City Expects Old PD Proposal Soon

Residents are one step closer to seeing something new happen on Columbus Boulevard. The City expects to receive a letter of intent from a developer this month for the purchase of the old police department.

“We went thru the RFP (request for proposal) process and now are waiting for letter of intent from a single developer,” said Mayor Erin Stewart. “They are working with the state and we’re still in the negotiating process, but we expect to receive a letter of intent in the next few weeks.”

Once the letter is received for the purchase and development of the property, it will go to the City Council and then to a subcommittee where the developer will present the plan.

“It is a long and complicated process. It is going to be a massive development,” said Stewart. “We framed the RFP specific to what we wanted to see happen in that area. It is no small development. We are going big on this one. The opportunity is ripe for it.”

The City is seeking a developer who wants to be a part of downtown’s return to earlier splendor. In the RFP the City described the area as, “Once vibrant, filled with picturesque architecture and streetscapes that lured pedestrians with appealing communal areas and greenspace, downtown was a destination for shopping, dining out and entertainment. This project is an opportunity to be a catalyst for a destination downtown that complements New Britain’s existing pillars, spanning arts and culture, recreation, education, healthcare and community. Our downtown of the future will have broad appeal to young professionals, young families, and college students seeking a convenient place to live, work and socialize.”

The property is next to a hotel, a future restaurant, a parking garage and across from CTFastrak.

“I spoke with five different developers. They narrowed themselves down. Some did not want to go in the direction we saw fit for it. I feel confident in what we need in that space. I won’t take something that won’t fit,” said Stewart. “I won’t take a strip mall across from a strip mall. I know that we need housing. I know we need condos and market rate apartments to make it work. So if housing was not in the plan, we weren’t interested.”

Stewart said that developers are taking a “massive risk.”

“The flood gates aren’t open with developers wanting to come to Connecticut with our climate right now. You have a Governor (Dannel Malloy) turning businesses away left and right. It trickles down to cities like us who are trying to find outside investors to come in and spend millions of dollars in our community,” said Stewart. “Unfortunately, we got a lot of feedback that people do not know if they want to do business in Connecticut.”

Most of the big developers are from New York and Boston.

The building itself, at 125 Columbus Blvd., has been slow to come down.

“By the end of the month the entire building will be down,” Stewart said. “There is a lot of asbestos especially in the windows. Once everything is removed, its a quick job.”

The demolition began in October and the search for a developer began in January.

“Once we get letter of intent we can finally move forward,” Stewart said. “It has the potential to be a key development in our downtown revitalization.”