Homegrown John Guedes has a plan: building 1,000 new apartments Downtown within the next five years; including first-floor retail shops and parking garages.
Based on rooms already under construction with anticipated occupancy next year, he’s 20 percent there.
One of his Downtown projects will be available for occupancy in February.
Last year he saw an opportunity. The Holiday Inn owned for decades by the Trefz family was placed quietly on the market
“I took a look at it and saw that the hotel was not, and had not been, carrying itself,” he says. “The Trefzs had been losing money for many years. I looked at it and decided to buy it.”
Guedes designed a plan to convert 268 rooms into 92 apartments, an equal share of one- and two-bedroom rentals. He is retaining the catering facilities, bar, lounge and restaurant. It left the center business district without a hotel, an industry besieged by Covid, but in its place a path to consistent foot traffic.
The apartments under construction with occupancy on the top four floors, 60 units, will be ready by February, Guedes says. The apartments will all be market rate and leased for a minimum of one year. The lease includes fully furnished rooms with all utilities, WiFi, 24-hour door security and front desk clerk.
He has set aside five suites available for short stays.
“I am hopeful to get the catering facility, restaurant and bar reopened by March.”
Guedes’ vision for housing and first-floor retail is advancing with Congress Plaza Commons at Congress and Main, bracketed a short walking distance from police and fire headquarters: 92 market rate apartments featuring one-, two- and three-bedroom units, five retail shops and parking garage under the building. He anticipates occupancy by next October.
Guedes’ embraces the immigrant experience. His parents arrived in the U.S. from Portugal in 1962.
An architect by trade, Guedes started his design-build business in 1978, “operating out of my basement at Primrose Avenue in Bridgeport.”
For the past 25 years his company has been located at 1425 Noble Avenue.
In 2004, Guedes led the Downtown Shelton redevelopment revival in a troubled section of the city.
“I took 14 industrial and mill building sites along the river and created the Shelton River Front Development on Canal Street. I am still developing there with $45 million in mixed-use buildings ready to start in the next few months. Others have also joined in to revitalize the Shelton downtown. It now has a life of its own.”
Four years ago he was approached by members of the Brooklyn Hasidic Jewish community interested in partnering with him to build residential developments in Downtown Bridgeport.
“This revived my interest in Bridgeport and especially the Downtown area.”
His next development is 855 Main Street, the old People’s Bank office building across the street from M&T Bank’s Bridgeport Center where he will convert spaces into 116 apartments. Permitting applications are underway.