City Council To Act On Tax Settlement For Control Of East Side Property

train station rendering
Rendering of proposed train station.

After years in the making the city is on the verge of gaining control of 11 acres on Barnum Avenue adjacent to the proposed site of a new train station on the East Side. The abandoned Remington property for years plagued by fires with some buildings recently demolished had been controlled by RemGrit Realty whose principal Sal DiNardo hammered out a settlement of taxes agreement with the city following a filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The City Council’s Miscellaneous Matters Committee will take up the measure at its Monday meeting.

Under the agreement the city will own 11 of 16 acres at 889 Barnum Avenue. RemGrit maintains ownership of five acres, but has agreed to a three-year moratorium of development of the property until completion of a state-funded grant examining transit oriented development in the vicinity, according to Bridgeport Economic Development Director David Kooris.

Based on an appraisal of the property, the city will also receive $315,000 for taxes owed on the 11 acres, not nearly the full tax price tag, but considering the environmental cleanup required of the industrial eyesore, a prudent step to advance the development, says Kooris, as a complement to the train station development.

Kooris says he is confident a second train station will happen.

“If the train station is going to work we need public control of property within the vicinity,” he says.

His office, in conjunction with the City Attorney’s Office, filed a lawsuit against RemGrit for back taxes of the vacant industrial property. In a procedural move RemGrit then filed for bankruptcy. Negotiations ensued that allows the city to retain control of a majority of the property.

Former Mayor Bill Finch proposed the train station as part of a redevelopment of the troubled East Side. More than $10 million in state and federal funds have followed for a project that could eclipse $100 million.

Mayor Joe Ganim supports a second train station for the city.

Kooris, appointed development chief by Finch in the summer of 2012, has been asked to stay on by Ganim.

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26 comments

  1. Goal is City control of sufficient property to become credible party for station development I take it?

    Currently Remgrit or others own the entire 16 acres discussed above. Does the entire property suffer the same cleanup needs or are some parts more expensive to remediate than others? What are respective cleanup costs today and who will inherit what approximate share if the deal is done as proposed above?
    What is the tax due the City, by itself without interest and penalties calculated over the years? What % does $315,000 represent of the total taxes due for the section the City will take over? Will the transferring and failing taxpayer agree to pay each year going forward on the 5 acres they will retain? If they fail to pay at any point, what penalty will they suffer that would be so extreme that they will pay to maintain their advantage on the five acres retained?
    Where will money be accessed for remediation of the 11 acres coming into City control? How many years will it take? Will a significant portion of the 11 acres be covered with blacktop such that the problems below are essentially capped with clean fill and asphalt rather than excavation and replacement of surface soils? What monies might the City need to borrow annually each year for the next five years for instance, to become an active player in moving the project along so it does not linger in “nowhereland” for years with no taxes, no projects, no revenues and expenses to safeguard and maintain, like other properties the City owned in recent years? Time will tell.

  2. Another f’n joke.
    Bridgeport; the laughing stock of the state of Connecticut.
    Folks, this is the ONLY reason why we are talking a second train station.
    Once this deal is done all of this talk will go to mute.
    Sal got his way.
    That’s the only play.

    1. Such a deal! Over 10 million dollars in back taxes, DiNardo only wants to pay $315k in back taxes, DiNardo/Remgrit ran out of time fighting the city, and now DiNardo would like to cut a deal!
      Sal DiNardo had his chance 10 years ago to settle with the city, it has cost taxpayers thousands to drag this flucking millionaire to court, if you owe the city $10 million in back taxes how long would it take before the city foreclosed on you?
      Sal DiNardo wants to settle this case and walk away with not paying his taxes, plus a land deal. Don’t give it to him, let the courts foreclose! Bridgeport has been flucked too long by this greedy scumbag!

      1. Bridgeport set to take over Remington property
        11-acre parcel key to city’s transit development plans
        By Hugh Bailey
        Bridgeport is poised to take possession of the former Remington Arms factory, including the iconic shot tower, on Barnum Avenue after reaching a settlement on a longstanding bankruptcy proceeding.
        The century-old buildings on the site are adjacent to the property planned for the city’s second train station, and are considered vital to Bridgeport’s transit-oriented development plans.
        The settlement in U.S. bankruptcy court last week was awaiting a judge’s final approval and, because of the pending change in city government, will require assent from the City Council.
        The 16-acre property has been subdivided, with the city to take title to 11 acres that include brick structures built at least 100 years ago. The current property owner, Remgrit Realty, will hold onto 5 mostly vacant acres.
        “We are getting the piece we really wanted,” said David Kooris, director of the city’s Office of Planning and Economic Development.
        More than half the 5 acres that Remgrit retains are along the Yellow Mill Channel and are considered wetlands. They are also highly contaminated, city officials say.
        Included in the bankruptcy settlement is a perpetual easement on the land that would allow the city to construct a greenway along the waterfront at a future date. Also, the city would retain veto authority over permanent development on the portion retained by Remgrit for three years, which would help ensure that whatever is built is consistent with the neighborhood as it develops.
        “Any type of moratorium is a pretty significant restriction,” said Matthew Beatman, Remgrit’s attorney. “We want to work with and help the city.”
        In return, the current owner would be relieved of a bill for back taxes that dates back a quarter century and including fees and interest totaled more than $10 million, said city officials, who acknowledged that nothing approaching that amount was ever likely to be recovered.
        The future of the buildings themselves is uncertain, and a coming study is meant to assess whether they can be retained for future use. The low-rise concrete structure along Barnum Avenue is more recently built, and unsightly, than the brick buildings, and would be unlikely to be saved.
        The brick structures, built for the production of munitions and so designed to withstand explosions, are considered architecturally solid and could likely be put to a new use. The shot tower, at the corner of Arctic and Helen streets, would probably be retained in some form no matter its current condition, given its historic status, city officials said.
        In 2011, per judicial order, Remgrit gave to the city the Remington parcel at 812 Barnum Ave., which is to be used for the Bridgeport’s second train station. With the rest of the Remington site added to land that was once the site of the Father Panik Village housing project and other parcels, the city counts some 30 publicly controlled acres in the immediate vicinity of what is to be known as Barnum Station.
        “It was crucial that the city have that property,” Kooris said. “That puts the city in the driver’s seat on that property.”
        Beatman said it was too early to say what could be built on the portion of the site retained by Remgrit.
        Of more immediate interest to neighbors, the city taking control of the factory buildings will allow for a cleanup of a site that has turned into a neighborhood dumping ground. Using funds that have already been allocated for assessment and remediation on Remington properties, the city will, pending Council approval, clean up the grounds, secure the site and install cameras.
        A number of environmental assessments have been conducted on the site in the past, and some beginning remedial work has been completed.
        Like the recently demolished AGI Rubber Co. factory on Stratford Avenue, the Remington plant has been the site of frequent fires over the years.
        The city accelerated attempts to settle on the property last year, but the timing of the final agreement, so close to the end of Mayor Bill Finch’s time in office, led officials to make it contingent upon approval of a new City Council, which will take office in December.

  3. It’s not the second train station, really. Don’t we have another station in Black Rock??? That may be considered Fairfield, but it still serves the Bridgeport Community. I mean how many stations do we need?

    And if you are going to build stations, would you please build stations and not just platforms with no indoors shelter during inclement weather and no toilets.

  4. First of all, I would just like to discuss the need for a new train station at this site serving East Bridgeport. Do any of the respondents so far here take the train on a daily basis? FYI, I do and the trains are packed all the time with significant numbers of people exiting and entering the trains at EVERY stop. Gone are the days when MetroNorth was viewed as only for those commuting to work in NYC or even Stamford. In essence, we need to view MetroNorth as the “subway” connecting, serving and moving people throughout EVERY stop on the line. As far as Fairfield Metro Station that affects the Black Rock area, much of the re-zoning just approved by the BPT P&Z factors in accessibility to that particular train station as a key factor in further revitalization of Black Rock. There has been announcement of plans to build more townhouse-style apartments on the location of the Bridgeport (Black Rock) Showcase Cinemas which are set to close. As to building train stations with amenities such as heated indoors shelters/toilets etc., costs for these services would have to be factored in and would train stations with these amenities become a magnet for homeless, etc.? Fairfield Metro does have some indoor shelter but no heat/air conditioning and no restrooms. I am going to guess the reasons were to reduce additional maintenance costs.

    1. City Council members, Superior court was ready to hand the Remington property over to the City of Bridgeport after a 10-year battle for back taxes of $10 million.
      DiNardo/RemGrit then filed a last-minute move for bankruptcy in Federal court that stopped the final foreclosure proceedings in Superior court.
      At this point DiNardo/RemGrit has lost the case in Superior Court!
      DiNardo now tells the Federal Court he has a deal with the City of Bridgeport. Which he doesn’t! But at this point if the City Council gives DiNardo this deal it would be a gift from the Taxpayers of Bridgeport, plus the millions of dollars we lost in back taxes and legal fees.
      The Kooris/DiNardo deal is bad for the city, so if the City Council takes this deal, then why should anyone in Bridgeport pay their taxes???

  5. As for any aspersion this was done solely to pay off Sal DiNardo, I hope that is not the case. I know we can be cynical at times but do we have any information this was indeed the case? For John Marshall Lee, good questions but we need an answer on how to find out the answers to your questions. I know you provided your phone number and I will be reaching out to you soon. Another seemingly important announcement is it seems David Kooris will be retaining his job as head of the Bridgeport Redevelopment “team.” That had been a question with the election of Joe Ganim. Kooris did seem to receive some favorable reviews of his performance.

  6. I just looked at Common Council/subcommittee agendas and as this article states it will be taken up Monday AS IN YESTERDAY, according to the agenda. So, IS THIS A DONE DEAL IN TERMS OF THE TAX SETTLEMENT?

    1. As Lennie has mentioned, the Miscellaneous Matters committee of the City Council will meet on Monday evening, January 25, 2016 at 6:00 PM in the Democratic Caucus Room. The RemGrit Settlement item (44-15) and the McCarthy settlement (48-15) are each on the AGENDA.
      How large an audience will be there? Will a co-chair for that committee allow questions or comments from members of the public in attendance? City Council rules provide that right or privilege to a co-chair. Let’s see whether this Committee will operate in a more OPEN, ACCOUNTABLE, TRANSPARENT and HONEST manner and allow for this, if the public chooses to attend. Time will tell.

    2. Frank Gyure, I appreciate your thoughtful posts and I agree with you regarding the train station as everyone here knows. Now this will become a Ganim homerun and a real shot in the arm for the East Side. It doesn’t matter who claims credit or the hateful remarks regarding Sal DiNardo. This is good for Bridgeport and as far as Walsh is concerned, Bridgeport is not the laughing stock of the State of Connecticut.

      Joe Ganim will be leaving for Washington to meet with Barack Obama for the conference of Mayors. I am certain Hillary Clinton will ask for Joe’s assistance. That is not a laughing stock!

  7. Frank,
    You have my number. Please call and we can visit perhaps over a weekend to answer some questions, raise others and connect some issues, with people who have responsibilities and need to be approached for their input. Of course if no one asks them they can remain seemingly smart but out of the line of fire. When issues get to City Council, look for the handful of current members who may require all the info they ask for routinely before voting on an issue. That would be a change in substance I see as a positive development. Time will tell.

  8. This is total BS and the five DiNardo acres are located right in the middle of this project, and the $315,000 will be paid off over so many years. Sal will receive millions from the state for the five acres and this city will be happy to pay him. Such a deal!

  9. Who will use the new train station? How will they get there if using it as a departure point? If using it as a destination point; where will they come from, and why will they come? (Bass Pro, really?! Enough people for a whole train station.)

    How many permanent jobs will it mean for Bridgeport? How much tax revenue will it bring to Bridgeport? How much tax revenue might we derive from other types of development at this site? (Of course, thinking of other types of development might require some heavy lifting in OPED, something they weren’t hired to do.)

    Since $millions are being spent to plan the new station, why can’t a $million or so be spent to produce evidence of economic justification for locating that train station on that site? (Will it at least be able to accommodate Acela stops?)

    Economic development policy, and the lack thereof, continues to define the word “stupid!” in Bridgeport.

    Referring to an earlier topic post: The lobsters probably didn’t die off in Long Island Sound, they were just overwhelmed by the increasing run-off of “stupid” from the region into the Sound and decided to move. (Probably to the waters around Boston.)

  10. i like all the info and input. I still think a train station on the East Side of Bridgeport is a good idea. Maybe I am optimistic, or naive. But I DO ride the train every single day.

  11. Have any of you taken the alternate means of transportation throughout Fairfield County? I am referring to the Coastal Link Bus Line. Just do it one day. You will get an important lesson in the demographics, labor supply of Fairfield County.

  12. *** I’m so happy finally the East Side of Bpt may be getting a much-needed outside train station stop for all the middle class business residents, as well as all the artists and sales merchants who travel to the North or South of the State as well as to New York or Boston, etc. Since it’s so far to downtown Bpt or Black Rock and even the new Fairfield/Bpt line outside station, it’s great to know sometime soon all the strap-hangers from the East Side or East End of Bpt will have a closer station stop right there in the ‘hood! I’m sure all the residents of Bpt can’t wait for the long-awaited day! I know I can hardly sleep at night every time I hear news about it on TV or the radio. *** WHOOP ***

  13. Frank; I think you might be alluding to the situation of the region being dependent on Bridgeport labor. Hence, we can be defined as “the servants quarter” in that we have been targeted by the regional planners as “the housing hub” for the region. That is why we get a lot of housing and “transit-oriented developmen.”

    Now; housing and “transit-oriented development” might sound like very desirable, progressive things, which they could be, if they were accomplished in the context of expanding our high-value tax base with tax-positive, job-intensive development. But that is not the case. Development in Bridgeport is being directed toward a situation where we provide the cheap labor to maintain the tax base and lifestyle of our down-county overseers, and they get a free ride off of our backs. We have to provide schools, social services, etc.–for their labor force–from an ever-more-inadequate Bridgeport tax base. And workers from Bridgeport are forced to use large amounts of time–time away from family and household/personal needs–to commute to jobs that are often far below the living wage level for Fairfield County. This is a terrific deal for the down-county towns and a horrible deal for Bridgeport. But we continue to accommodate this bad deal by buying into the regional plan. And we continue to suffer from failing, underfunded schools, high unemployment, and a host of other social problems related to our dearth of Bridgeport-based jobs and high-value/tax-positive tax base.

    It doesn’t take a degree in urban planning to see we getting the short, dirty end of the stick in this regard.

    So the next time we see Dan Malloy, Jim Himes and Dick Blumenthal in Bridgeport crowing about a new housing development and/or a new train station, remember where they are from, who they really represent in Hartford/Washington, and why they are really smiling for the camera.

    And also keep in mind the hugely expensive transportation initiatives, including the proposed, $11 billion I-95 Fairfield County widening boondoggle, are largely being undertaken to maintain the status quo in Fairfield county.

    I hope Bridgeport’s state delegation and our city government take a hard look at our situation and start thinking in terms of Bridgeport’s socioeconomic redemption.

    Furthermore; it is obvious forward-thinking companies see the regional development planning as inappropriate and leading to untenable, regional logistical and socioeconomic situations. GE’s decision to bail on this region should serve as the signal our regional development policy is a catastrophic, regressive failure—and not just for Bridgeport.

  14. I think a train station on the East Side is a great idea. Mayor Finch thought it was a great idea. Most elected officials think it is a great idea. There are over 100 units of housing currently under construction that will appreciate this as well as open the East Main Corridor and become a magnet for construction and development. Bridgeport is also getting $38 million initiated by Finch and happily being accepted by Ganim. The baton was passed and things are moving forward. Frank Gyure, I like how you think. If you are not politically involved, please get involved. I appreciate your optimism!

    1. Steve, most politicians are concerned with dollars, it does not matter in what form those dollars come, be it a train STOP, parking lots etc. They WOULD NEVER OR BETTER YET SHOULD NEVER OPPOSE ANY PLAN THAT HAS DOLLARS ATTACHED TO IT, be it a good idea or a BAD one.

    2. *** I’m with you, Stevie(wonder?); when you close your eyes you can almost see all the middle class business workers from the East Side as well as all the other strap-hangers like artists and fashion merchants and all the tourist people coming and going from the great city that is Bpt, no? *** WHOOP ***

      1. Mojo, actually I can. I do not see everyone residing on the East Side as poverty stricken welfare recipients. I see many middle class Hispanic people with the same dreams and aspirations as anyone else. I see people who live in that neighborhood by choice because they choose to live in a community that shares their language and heritage. I see transportation as a benefit today as well as five years down the road and I am happy the Mayor sees the future. I like Chris Rosario’s vision for the East Main corridor. I share that vision and I enjoy eating at many holes-in-the-wall on EAST Main. We need more visionaries in this city.

        1. Well Steve Auerbach, it seems you and I are two of the very very very few people who think anything positive can happen in the City of Bridgeport. The cynicism and negativity of a huge majority of the posts here is disappointing.

  15. I find myself in agreement with much, though not all, of what Jeff Kohut has written about this project.

    Before any more city funds are expended on this project, some basic questions need to be answered.

    First, how much will it cost? If memory serves, the last estimate was in the neighborhood of $150 million and rising. That is far more than the Finch administration’s original estimates.

    Second, who is going to pay for the station? Clearly the City of Bridgeport is in no position to pick up a $150 million tab. Unless the state or a private developer is will pay for the station, the project is a non-starter.

    Third, do we really need another train station on the northern end of the New Haven line? The Finch administration based much of its case on the parking deficit along the line.

    However, in the last few years new stations have opened in Fairfield and West Haven, new parking is being developed in Stratford and more is planned in New Haven. Today the need for parking is south of Bridgeport. Will those commuters be willing to drive north to Bridgeport to catch a train into New York?

    Fourth, will a new station generate a significant economic benefit? Advocates of the new Metro Center (Fairfield) and West Haven stations made similar claims about those projects. What has their actual impact been?

    Fifth, is there an actual operational need for a new station on the east side of Bridgeport?

    Finally, assuming the state is willing to kick in $150 million for a Bridgeport project, is a new station the best use of that money?

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