The City of Hartford Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a special meeting on Wednesday, November 4, 2015 at 260 Constitution Plaza, Plaza Level Conference Room, Hartford, CT 06103 at 6:00 p.m. on the developers plan to modify the DoNo Hartford Development Project.
Sara Bronin, wife of Harford mayoral candidate Luke Bronin, is the Chair of the Hartford Planning and Zoning Commission.
The contact between the City of Hartford and the developers of the Dunkin Donut Baseball Stadium and the entire DONO Downtown North Development Project required that construction on Phase II (Parcel E), which includes the desperately needed north-end grocery store, was to begin no later than November 1, 2015.
However, the developers failed to fulfill that responsibility and now want permission from the City of Hartford to delay and modify the construction plan related to Phase II (Parcel E).
The conflict of interest that Sara (and Luke) Bronin face is obvious.
As reported in a Wait, What? post on Wednesday, October 28, 2015 entitled, Bronin reports another $174,000 collected with seven days to go until Election Day, the Greenwich native who moved to Hartford and now wants to be Hartford’s next mayor revealed in his latest campaign finance report that he had raised another $11,750 from the developers of Hartford’s new Dunkin Donuts Yard Goats Baseball Stadium and the DONO Project.
The latest bundle of stadium money comes in addition to the thousands of dollars Bronin had already collected from those whose who are directly benefiting financially from the stadium contract. (See: And now Luke Bronin is collecting big bucks from developers of the Hartford Dunkin’ Donuts Stadium)
Having sharply criticized the stadium project earlier in the campaign, Bronin waited until after the reporting deadline for the September 16, 2015 Democratic primary to start collecting a large amount of campaign money from the contractors hired to build the DONO project including the new baseball stadium.
In recent weeks, Luke Bronin has raised tens of thousands of dollars from a number of the DONO contractors including Centerplan Development, Centerplan Construction Company, JCJ Architecture, Freeman Companies, BETA, McDowell Jewett and Greenskies Renewable Energy.
Four of the leading companies involved in the DONO Development Project are owned by lead developer Bob Landino who is a former member of the Connecticut House of Representatives. The developers are represented before the City of Hartford by the law firm that is led by Tom Ritter, the former Speaker of the Connecticut House of Representatives.
While Luke Bronin’s flip-flop on the stadium issues is newsworthy on its own, the immediate and more incredible news development may very well be that the developers of the Hartford Stadium donated to Luke Bronin at the exact same time that the stadium developers are seeking to modify the project after having failed to break ground, as required, on Phase II of the DONO project.
With no construction taking place on the grocery store, housing and other elements of Phase II (Parcel E), Luke Bronin’s wife will be convening a Special Meeting of the Hartford Planning and Zoning Commission on Wednesday – the day after Election Day – to approve changes that release the Stadium Developers from their commitment to begin Phase II and to make significant changes to the scope of Phase II.
While the developers have sought to trivialize their change in plans, their failure to follow through on their commitments concerning Phase II has a profound impact on the project and the credibility of those behind the entire Hartford Downtown North Development scheme.
The Hartford Courant reported on importance of Phase II this past summer in an article entitled, Developers To Break Ground On Downtown North Grocery Store In October,
City officials and developers of the Downtown North project, which includes retail, housing and a baseball stadium, said Wednesday that they will break ground on a parcel that includes a grocery store by late October.
Yves-Georges A. Joseph II, vice president of development for Centerplan, said the developers don’t yet have a supermarket operator on board, but they are in conversations with operators.
Joseph, who attended a forum on the Downtown North project Wednesday at the city’s public library, said the deadline to begin construction is Nov. 1.
The area, known as Parcel E, is the first phase of housing and retail in the project. The parcel, which would include 328 apartments, a grocery store, a fitness center, other shops and parking, would be located across Main Street from a 9,000-capacity minor league baseball stadium.
Joseph said Wednesday that if developers don’t reach a deal with a supermarket operator, “we as an organization will own or operate a supermarket.”
The Hartford Courant’s June 2015 story ended with,
Panelists at Wednesday’s forum, sponsored by Hartford 2000, expressed skepticism about the developer’s ability to bring in a supermarket.
Denise Best, a North End activist, said many promises have been made and broken by city leadership.
So now October has come and gone and there is no sign of any construction related to the grocery store, or the associated housing, fitness center, shops and parking.
What has occurred over the last few weeks is that the developers have become a major source of campaign donations for Luke Bronin’s campaign for Mayor and, the day after Election Day, Bronin’s wife will be chairing the Commission that is supposed to hold the developers accountable for their failure to produce as promised.