City Requests Development Proposals For Vacant Downtown Theaters

Majestic
Inside the Majestic

Shuttered for more than 40 years, solicitations for development proposals have gone out for the historic Poli Palace and Majestic theaters, according to Economic Development Director Tom Gill who says advancement of Downtown North redevelopment projects spurred interest in the twin gems. For old-time Bridgeport residents they represent an era when the city was a magnet for Broadway’s theater and pageantry. Others have wondered for decades, what was there and should they be demolished?

Majestic external
Back in the day.

City development officials declare they’ve issued proposal requests based on active Downtown interest.

Sylvester Poli, a renowned sculptor in New York, launched Bridgeport as a respected theatrical community circa 1920 via construction of his architectural treasures that combined for roughly 6,000 seats. The biggest Broadway stars of the era such as Eddie Cantor and Al Jolson performed in Bridgeport. The 100-room Savoy Hotel, whose sign is still a feature on the vacant building, was part of the complex.

According to the request for proposals “With respect to the historic theatre/hotel complex, the City is not requiring that the theatres be restored as theatres per se. However, the City is requiring that the building be restored in whole or in part in a way that preserves its historic character and highlights the structure for the landmark that it is.”

Majestic
Another view inside

Responding to an OIB request, Gill and Deputy Director of Planning and Economic Development Bill Coleman shared the following request for proposal language. Responses are due February 22 with developer selection scheduled for May.

A. PURPOSE

OPED is issuing this Request for Expressions of Developer Interest in order to identify an appropriately qualified Developer with which the City would propose to enter into  a Pre-Development Agreement of not greater than twelve months pursuant to which the Developer would finalize a redevelopment plan consistent with OPED’s vision for the parcels described herein. Under this Pre-Development Agreement, the Developer will be expected to conclude feasibility studies as to the cost and economic viability of the specific plan proposed, to seek and secure necessary public approvals, to conclude specific tenancy agreements as needed, and to secure financing for the project. Upon completion of the Pre-Development period, the selected firm will be expected to be ready to begin construction of the project.

B. PROJECT AREA DESCRIPTION.

This 6-acre Project Area in Downtown Bridgeport centers on 1335 Main Street, which is the combined address of the former Poli Palace Theatre (3600 seats) and the former Majestic Theatre (2200 seats) and the former Savoy Hotel (100 rooms), which comprise together in one 80,000 square-foot building a signature piece of architecture at the entrance to the center city. Designed in the Beaux Arts style by architect Thomas A. Lamb in 1922, the building is on the National Register of Historic Places. To the north of the historic theatre/hotel building, the Project Area includes approximately 3 acres of vacant land straddling both sides of Main Street.  One block to southeast of the theatre/hotel building, the Project Area consists of two vacant parcels totaling 60,000 square feet. (See attached Project Area Map).

The Project Area represents one of the best transit oriented development locations in Connecticut. It is within four blocks of the Bridgeport Intermodal Transit Center, which serves Amtrak, MetroNorth, Greater Bridgeport Transit, Greyhound, and the Bridgeport-Port Jefferson Ferry. It is convenient to Interstate 95, located within five blocks of the two highway exits serving downtown. The redevelopment site runs roughly parallel to the nearby Pequonnock River and to a developing Pequonnock River Greenway. This immediate area currently has four redevelopment projects underway, which represent approximately $50MM in combined investment.

C. REDEVELOPMENT OBJECTIVES

The site is suitable for mixed-use development with a heavy residential component.  Market-rate residential projects have been very successful downtown, both in the conversion of historic structures and in the development of new construction.  Given the strong market absorption of units to date, and given the proximity to multiple transit options, the City views the vacant land in the site as capable of supporting dense residential development of over 1000 new units.

With respect to the historic theatre/hotel complex, the City is not requiring that the theatres be restored as theatres per se.  However, the City is requiring that the building be restored in whole or in part in a way that preserves its historic character and highlights the structure for the landmark that it is. The City is not dictating the specific proposed reuse. However the City will expect that the Developer demonstrate the economic viability of any proposed reuse. By way of discussion and description, but not as specific guidance, we note that the hotel component of the building, given its layout, naturally lends itself to renovation as a new hotel, or more generally to residential re-use. As to the theatres themselves, the City is open to creative approaches to the re-use of these spaces, if not as performing venues exclusively, then as spaces used in ways that are related to the arts, or to educational or institutional or civic use, or for any variety of commercial or retail use that would be compatible with the downtown and would provide vitality to this northern end of Main Street.

D. SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS

a) A cover letter identifying the firm or team, the name of the firm or team’s representative(s), and his/her contact information (including phone and email);

b) Conceptual Development Plan and Implementation Plan–A depiction via rendering and site plan, with accompanying narrative, of the respondent’s conceptual development plan in a manner conforming with the City’s Redevelopment Objectives. A pre-development and development schedule with milestones and objectives that delineates the developer’s plan for implementing the project.

c) Conceptual Financing Plan and Budget–A general order of magnitude capital budget with a general breakdown of the sources and uses of capital.

d) Statement of Qualifications–Listing of Principal Members of the Development Team, and a detailing of the Development Team’s directly relevant development experience, including its completion of projects similar in scope to this redevelopment opportunity.

e) Statement of Financial Capacity and Administrative Capacity–Detail the amount of developer equity or developer capital that your team will invest in the pre-development work during the twelve-month due diligence period for the Project. Detail the specific staff and administrative capacity your team will devote to this work.

E. Responses Due–Wednesday, February 22, 2017, 2 pm EST

Responses are to be submitted electronically to the administrative office of theCity’s Office of Planning and Economic Development at max.perez@bridgeportct.gov.

F. City Review Schedule (Approximate)

March 2017 Administrative Review and Initial Interviews(if necessary)

April 2017 Short-List and Follow-Up Interviews

May 2017 Selection of Developer

June 2017 Execution of 12-month Pre-Development Agreement

NOTE: These dates may be altered for the City’s convenience, to accommodate holidays, etc. so long as such changes do not materially and adversely affect the process or its fairness to all Respondents.

G. EVALUATION CRITERIA:

1. Specialized Experience, Technical Competence, and Administrative Capacity: The evaluation will consider relevant experience in the development of projects of similar size and scope. This evaluation will further consider the organizational and team structure assembled to perform the work, as well as the demonstrated capacity of the firm to meet the project’s requirements, to execute the work on-time and on budget. (33.3% of the Evaluation)

2. Soundness of the Concept and the Implementation Plan Proposed: This evaluation will consider the extent to which the Respondent’s concept corresponds to the City’s Redevelopment Objective and will evaluate the feasibility and thoroughness of the implementation plan proposed. (33.3% of the Evaluation)

3. Financial Strength: This evaluation will judge the Respondent’s financial strength as a development entity. This evaluation may involve the confidential review of Financial Statements (should the City so request); but at a minimum shall involve the City’s evaluation of the Respondent’s ready financial capacity to compensate the City with an earnest money deposit of approximately 5% of the Property’s Current Assessed Value. (33.3% of the Evaluation)

I. TREATMENT OF CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION

Financial statements, proposals and other business confidential information may not be subject to disclosure under the Connecticut Freedom of Information law, Section 1-210(b)(5)(A) of the Connecticut General Statutes (FOIA), if such information constitutes “trade secrets” as defined therein. If a Respondent desires certain information to be protected from disclosure under FOIA as a trade secret, the Respondent should clearly identify such information, place such information in a separate envelope appropriately marked, and submit such information with its response. Such information shall be retained by OPED in confidence, shall only be viewed by City employees and consultants having a “need to know”, and shall be returned to all unsuccessful Respondents, or will be destroyed, upon the conclusion of the City’s selection process.

If such information is sought to be disclosed, OPED will afford notice to the party or parties whose information is being sought so that each has an opportunity to dispute disclosure in a court of law at such party’s sole cost and expense. The City shall protect information from disclosure or refuse to disclose such information unless it (i) is already known; (ii) is in the public domain through no wrongful act of the City; (iii) is received by the City from a third party who was free to disclose it; (iv) is properly disclosable under FOIA; or (v) is required to be disclosed by a court of law.

J. QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT RFEI

Firms may seek additional information or clarification as to any aspect of the RFEI by submitting questions in writing to OPED’s administrative e-mail at Jennifer.Edwards@bridgeportct.gov.

All questions will be summarized by OPED, which will provide prompt written answers via e-mail to the principal of each team or firm. In order to receive written answers, each potential Respondent must notify OPED of its interest and provide OPED with e-mail contact information. All firms are obligated to become familiar with such questions and answers and to submit or revise their responses accordingly. The City assumes no responsibility for a firm’s failure to read questions and answers and to revise their responses accordingly. Contact information and questions should be sent in writing via e-mail to Jennifer.Edwards@bridgeportct.gov.

K. ACCESS TO THE SITE

Access may be arranged for accompanied site visits by calling Max Perez at 203-727-2707 or by e-mailing Mr. Perez at max.perez@bridgeportct.gov.

L. PROPERTY OF CITY OF BRIDGEPORT

Except as otherwise stated in Section F of this notice, any information or materials submitted as a response to this RFEI shall become the property of the City of Bridgeport and will not be returned. All submitted materials will be available for public review.

M. RIGHT TO REJECT SUBMISSIONS

The City of Bridgeport may reject any and all proposals and cancel this RFEI, without liability therefore, when doing so is deemed to be in the City’s best interests. Further, regardless of the number and quality of responses submitted, the City shall under no circumstances be responsible for any firm’s cost, risk and expenses. The City accepts no responsibility for the return of successful or unsuccessful responses. This RFEI in no way obligates the City to select a firm.

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11 comments

  1. Tom Gill. I hope you have some success with these theaters. There have been actually some great successes with restoration of similar theaters. I have ONE QUESTION FOR TOM GILL. WHY are you trying to create an O&G nightmare in the West End? Why do you want to move the poison pile from Seaview Ave to the end of Howard Avenue? Is this what you want to be a part of your legacy? Shall we call the O&G pile on Howard Avenue Mt. Gill?? Tom Gill, IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT???

      1. My wife and I were happy for twenty years. Then we met.

        I’ll tell ya, my wife and I, we don’t think alike. She donates money to the homeless, and I donate money to the topless!

        One night I came home. I figured, let my wife come on. I’ll play it cool. Let her make the first move. She went to Florida.

        I asked my old man if I could go ice-skating on the lake. He told me, “Wait til it gets warmer.”

        My doctor told me to watch my drinking. Now I drink in front of a mirror. I drink too much. Way too much. My doctor drew blood. He ran a tab.

        When I was born the doctor came out to the waiting room and said to my father, “I’m very sorry. We did everything we could…but he pulled through.”

        I come from a stupid family. During the Civil War my great uncle fought for the west!

        My father was stupid. He worked in a bank and they caught him stealing pens.

        My mother had morning sickness after I was born.

        My mother never breast fed me. She told me that she only liked me as a friend.

        My father carries around the picture of the kid who came with his wallet.

        When I played in the sandbox the cat kept covering me up.

        I could tell that my parents hated me. My bath toys were a toaster and a radio.

        One year they wanted to make me poster boy… for birth control.

        I remember the time I was kidnapped and they sent back a piece of my finger to my father. He said he wanted more proof.

        My uncle’s dying wish was to have me sitting on his lap. He was in the electric chair.

        One time I went to a hotel. I asked the bellhop to handle my bag. He felt up my wife!

        This morning when I put on my underwear I could hear the Fruit of the Loom guys laughing at me.

        I’m a bad lover. Once I caught a peeping tom booing me.

        My wife only has sex with me for a purpose. Last night she used me to time an egg.

        It’s tough to stay married. My wife kisses the dog on the lips, yet she won’t drink from my glass!

        My wife isn’t very bright. The other day she was at the store, and just as she was heading for our car, someone stole it! I said, “Did you see the guy who did it?” She said, “No, but I got the license plate.”

        Last night my wife met me at the front door. She was wearing a sexy negligee. The only trouble was, she was coming home.

        A girl phoned me and said, “Come on over. There’s nobody home.” I went over. Nobody was home!

        A hooker once told me she had a headache.

        I went to a massage parlor. It was self-service.

        If it weren’t for pickpockets, I’d have no sex life at all.

        Once when I was lost I saw a policeman and asked him to help me find my parents. I said to him, “Do you think we’ll ever find them?” He said, “I don’t know, kid. There are so many places they can hide.”

        I remember I was so depressed I was going to jump out a window on the tenth floor. They sent a priest up to talk to me. He said, “On your mark …”

        When my old man wanted sex, my mother would show him a picture of me.

        I had a lot of pimples, too. One day I fell asleep in a library. I woke up and a blind man was reading my face.

        My wife made me join a bridge club. I jump off next Tuesday.

        Last week my tie caught on fire. Some guy tried to put it out with an ax!

        I met the surgeon general. He offered me a cigarette.

        I was making love to this girl and she started crying. I said, “Are you going to hate yourself in the morning?” She said, “No, I hate myself now.”

        I knew a girl so ugly she was known as a two-bagger. That’s when you put a bag over your head in case the bag over her head breaks.

        I knew a girl so ugly, they use her in prisons to cure sex offenders.

        I knew a girl so ugly, I took her to the top of the Empire State building and planes started to attack her.

        I knew a girl so ugly, the last time I saw a mouth like hers it had a hook on the end of it.

        I knew a girl so ugly, she had a face like a saint–a Saint Bernard!

        I was tired one night and I went to the bar to have a few drinks. The bartender asked me, “What’ll you have?” I said, “Surprise me.” He showed me a naked picture of my wife.

        During sex my wife always wants to talk to me. Just the other night she called me from a hotel.

        My marriage is on the rocks again. Yeah, my wife just broke up with her boyfriend.

        One day as I came home early from work, I saw a guy jogging naked. I said to the guy, “Hey buddy, what are you doing that for?” He said, “Because you came home early.”

        I went to see my doctor, Doctor Vidi-boom-ba. Yeah. I told him once, “Doctor, every morning when I get up and look in the mirror I feel like throwing up. What’s wrong with me? He said, “I don’t know, but your eyesight is perfect.”

        I told my dentist my teeth are going yellow. He told me to wear a brown necktie.

        My psychiatrist told me I’m going crazy. I told him, “If you don’t mind, I’d like a second opinion.” He said, “All right. You’re ugly, too!”

        I was so ugly, my mother used to feed me with a slingshot!

        When I was born the doctor took one look at my face, turned me over and said, “Look, twins!”

        And we were poor, too. Why, if I weren’t born a boy, I’d have nothing to play with!

        With my wife I don’t get no respect. I made a toast on her birthday to ‘the best woman a man ever had.’ The waiter joined me.

  2. Do a drive-by and look at the “old ladies of Main Street” or if you prefer the “Grand Dames of Ganim2’s Dreams.” After all, in 2015 the City was due to spend $30,000 per City Council nudging from Bob Halstead to internally protect them from harm.

    However, Jersey barriers as a streetscape (and rumors the sky was falling) caused the City to spend $106,000 in 2016 to cause a dress-up in matte silver netting, which might even be called a “bra and tiara” outfit.

    An “evidence of interest” proposal was put out. Is that a new type of request? Based on something from somewhere? What about an “evidence of interest” request on harbor-based concepts where folks have come to town in the past 18 months and not been provided the time of day by the development leadership in the City? Would a Request for “evidence of interest” in Bridgeport waterfront property cause indigestion to the Master Plan current in development? Will the “fat lady sing so all can hear?” Time will tell.

  3. These things again.

    What caused the lost of interest in their heyday?

    Ask anyone who went there.

    Will people lose interest again?

    Where will people park?

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