The city has received four responses to a request for proposals for the historic Poli Palace and Majestic theaters, the nostalgic Downtown venues shuttered for more than 40 years. Economic Development Director Tom Gill says advancement of Downtown North redevelopment projects spurred interest in the twin gems, once a magnet for Broadway’s theater and pageantry.
Architectural historians and preservation professionals have touted the theaters restoration as keys to a Downtown renaissance while skeptics have asserted for decades they must be demolished for a more pragmatic development approach.
Development officials will spend the month of March reviewing the proposals, followed by interviews and likely selection of a developer in May. The city hopes to execute a 12-month pre-development agreement in June. The city, citing confidential business information exempt from disclosure under Connecticut freedom of information laws, is withholding specific details of the proposals during the review process. OIB has asked city officials for the names of development entities that responded.
The city is not obligated to release the names of business entities at this stage of the process, according to Connecticut Freedom of Information regulations, but may do so per authority of a community’s chief executive officer. From CT FOI Act:
“Responses to any request for proposals or bid solicitation issued by a public agency or any record or file made by a public agency in connection with the contract award process, until such contract is executed or negotiations for the award of such contract have ended, whichever occurs earlier, provided the chief executive officer of such public agency certifies that the public interest in the disclosure of such responses, record or file is outweighed by the public interest in the confidentiality of such responses, record or file.”
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 city’s 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.”
The city received development responses based on the following criteria.
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 the City’s Office of Planning and Economic Development at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
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.