‘Financing In Place’–Homegrown John Guedes Looks Forward To Downtown Development

Rendering of Downtown development, Congress Plaza Commons.

A proposed $18 million Downtown development that calls for nearly 100 units of market-rate rental housing, 7,000 square feet of street-level retail space and approximately 80 off-street parking spaces was referred to the City’s Council’s economic development and contracts committees Tuesday night.

The proposal will receive a public hearing likely at the next full City Council meeting March 4.

The council will eventually vote to approve a land development agreement for “Congress Plaza Commons” on the corner of Main and Congress. Bridgeport-based Primrose Companies is the selected developer. See LDA LDA w Exhibits-Congress Plaza Commons- City Council Submittal 2-13-19

John Guedes, founder of Bridgeport-based Primrose development firm.

The founder of Primrose, John Guedes, is a proven developer who is transforming old mill buildings on Canal Street in Shelton’s Downtown.

Following a request for proposals last year, Mayor Joe Ganim announced in September a “100% privately-funded” development by Primrose.

“Primrose was selected because I am willing to take the risk, as a Bridgeporter, and have the resources and experience to make it happen,” Guedes shared with OIB. “I decided to initiate the Congress Plaza development program because I got tired of all of the pie in the sky proposals and false starts that have been presented over the last 50 years.”

Guedes launched his company in 1978 out of the basement of his North End home on Primrose Avenue. It has been based on Noble Avenue for 18 years. His firm specializes in design, development and construction.

Main level/garage plan for project.

Of his 12 employees, seven are family members including Eleanor Guedes, former chair of the Civil Service Commission.

Congress Plaza Commons will be the first of anticipated multiple mixed-used projects with a total investment of more than $60 million, says John Guedes. The phases that follow call for an additional 250 residential units with ground-level retail.

Guedes says he expects to begin construction this summer. “The financing is already in place for it.”

As for parking Guedes adds, “All of the proposed buildings will have parking garage under to accommodate the requirements.”

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47 comments

  1. Lennie, the first phase consists of 100 units and the second phase of 250 for a total of 350 units?
    I noticed that there’s no mention of additional parking for the second phase, could this be a problem?
    John Guedes has demonstrated he can get construction projects done. I once paid him a visit to ask for some advice he took the time to talk to me and I was impressed by the design of his Noble Avenue office interior. I asked if he would give me a quick tour and he did. I’d have no problem supporting this project and speaking in favor of it at the Public Hearing. Let’s see what the trolls have to say.

    1. I was going to ask for the exact lot location. From the look of the rendering the lot/s are known as the Police Department parking lot/s. Where are they supposed to park? Paging A.J Perez.

      1. I’m talking about Parking for Police Department personnel, the lots are also used to store some confiscated vehicles, police vehicles that are crashed/ damaged. During the day hours 8 am to 4 pm it’s almost impossible to find parking on Congres, Lyon terrace. City Hall Parking lot, forget it. Lenny, let’s face the Gorilla in the room. The old theater are in the way of this project, if the theater project comes to fruition it will make the parking issue worst. If parking for police is moved to the corner across Guedes’ project (Main and Congress) that would mean that officers must walk up Congress about a block away to enter 300 Congres Parking lot. Then we must factor in visitors parking for 350 units and store patrons. Maybe Guedes gets lucky. In a snowy night like tonight, a trucker driving a heavily loaded truck down Congress loses control and crashes into the theaters brick wall. The night Janitor at the Bridgeport Police Deparment rushes to the scene upon witnessing the crash and pulls the driver to safety just minutes before the truck explodes. Parking anyone?

    1. Don’t assume anything. I am not saying that this guy does 2nd rate work but I remember one time when going door to door in the Whiskey Hill area we came across a Guedes subdivision. The houses appeared to be fitted in with giant shoe horns.
      He knows how to work the system. If it is not in the plans assume it won’t be. If parking is not in the plans assume it won’t be.

  2. Yes, as others have pointed out, 78 parking spaces will not accomodate even the initial 100 units, not to mention the additional 250 proposed units.

    Not only that, but who would want to live in Downtown Bridgeport? Much of the validity and hopefulness of this ever coming to pass, depends on an improved image of the safety of either visiting or living in Downtown Bridgeport.. It’s very difficult to overcome a very poor image that has been built over 50 years.

    And once there, what are the amenities? Two or three very High End restaurants, which also offer little or no parking? I once received a $75 parking ticket for ending up overtime at a meter in front of one of those restaurants, while waiting for my check !!!!! Not much of an incentive for me to go back there !

    1. Robert, ye of little faith, a couple of thousand now live in Downtown Bridgeport led by young professionals. Have you seen the new housing units the past decade: Bijou, Citytrust, 333 State Street, 881 Lafayette, Harral Security Wheeler and more on the horizon. Dined at the Metric Saturday night. No problem parking. (Same for Joseph’s and R&R.) After dinner went to Sound Tigers game with nearly 5,000 fans, most of them suburbanites unafraid of Downtown. Check out Andrew Dice Clay (He’s great in Star Is Born) at Stress Factory Comedy Club this weekend. Give people what they want and they will come. Downtown is coming back.

        1. Tom White, I had to respond, First congratulations and Thank you for your recognition and all of the work you have done to help the feral animals. I did congratulate you to your face and wanted to make it public.

          As far as Lennie sounding like me, I am grateful that he is taking on my cheerleading for Bridgeport.
          I will say when my friends com to Bridgeport they leave here feeling great. We eat at great restaurants downtown and regularly go to the Cabaret theater . I have never had anyone say to me “Anytime I come to Bridgeport something bad happens” .

          As for this project, it is a real positive for Downtown North. Visually it is very attractive although everyone who knows me understands my passion for Highrise housing. I would love to see Highrise apts – not dorms lining Park Avenue in this city. I have a vision of Bridgeport that is a brilliant incorporation of our historical past with 21st century architecture.

          The Primose project will also help make the Poli-Majestic a reality. More housing is what downtown needs. Market rate housing. People with incomes that will support and patronize Downtown venues. I believe these base hits will encourage more investors to take note. It is clear that Mayor Ganim has always understood this as well as Former Mayor Finch and his star player David Kooris that replaced the lackluster Donald Eversley.

          I really appreciated that Lennie Grimaldi has finally come forward to stop these negative , miserable out of towners from degrading our city. Bridgeport’s downtown is taking shape. The movers and shakers may be struggling but they have great ideas if only locals would patronize. The new younger community living downtown, they love it . I know because I talk to them daily. They absolutely love living downtown. The demolition in the past few days have made visible new luxury apts just months away from completion. The Primrose proposal is desperately needed as downtown housing is becoming more in demand. Parking is definitely an issue. I see major changes as downtown expands and the need for 21st century state of the art garages become a focus of the city.

          Downtown, Steelepointe’s newest restaurant and the Eastend is about ready to explode. The East Main Street corridor is begining to thrive. Bridgeport is happening and people should get on the bus or get the hell out of the way .

          Still enjoying my season tickets to Bridgeport’s greatest assets. Whether it is the Klein or the Cabaret., I love entertaining my friends in this city.

          See you all on April 15!

          To Mr. Pavlik in the North end, You do not need to feed the Parking Meter after 6 pm and currently, free on weekends. Most people dine out after 6pm. A ticket at the meter is NOT $75.00. False information is not beneficial to the future of our great city .

          Thank you Lennie for defending Downtown . Tom White I was thinking exactly the same thing . 🙂 Congrats again!!

          1. Lennie , Steve, Don’t be offended by anything Tom writes, he and his co-author Johnnie Walker just can’t seem to find any good in anything developing in Bridgeport. I think it is time that Tom and Johnnie pack up and find a city or town more to their liking. Tom is it true that many years ago a realtor showed you a house and said you will love this home it has two bathrooms? And you put on a puzzled look and responded why would I need two bathrooms, only whites live in my house?

          1. Tom are you saying that you are not under the influence of Johnnie Walker? Are you really this arrogant and ignorant all on your own? Maybe I should start patting myself on the back for things I did decades ago like you do so people will take me more seriously. NOT!

    2. 2 Things, the zoning requirement of 1.5 parking spaces has been taken out for the Downtown Village District which is awesome. It should have been done 20 years ago when the arena went up and development would have taken off by now.

      Downtown living is great with most of the buildings filling vacancies within 30 days. 1BR in $1,250 range, 2BR in $1,600 range. Hope that helps. We can’t build housing downtown fast enough.

        1. I agree with you, my place is too damn quiet. I have survived 8 years downtown Bridgeport in perhaps the worst urban market in the state. We are consistently ranked in the state’s best as far as burger joints are concerned. I draw well from all over the state. People come from port chester, NY, Ridgefield, Monroe, Manchester, and New London. I can’t get people from Nob Hill, Brooklawn, Lake Forest, Black Rock, North End, the Hollow, East End, or Mill Hill to find downtown regardless of in car navigation.

          I should be doing tons betters as wells as the 100+ merchant storefronts and restaurants downtown. You know who really is afraid of coming downtown ? Bridgeport Residents.

          To your point, I close at 6 PM because I don’t provide liquor and therefore I don’t get the foot traffic on Main near me. Downtown is livelier from May through October than it’s a ghost town. We the people are the only ones that can change that trajectory. Put together a dining club, visit 3 storefronts and dine at a new eatery downtown once a week. Do you know what kind of impact that would have?

          1. you are right. The Bridgeport Residents are not going downtown unless its to the court house or there is a FREE EVENT

          2. Correction…DSSD. Downtown Special Services District. I would think this should be one of their top priorities. Reaching out through social media,other neighboyhood groups

  3. I think the parking is insufficient. Anything under 1.5 per unit is going to be a problem. If i was at the Zoning for this project,i would have fought like hell to keep it at 1.5. Does anyone really believe that two adults will live with one car.?Good luck to all involved. My timing may be terrible but everytime I go Downtown it’s a ghost town.

    1. A lot of the residents park in the one of the 6 parking lots downtown with monthly passes ($60-$90/mo for residents). I will say , about 1/3 of folks I know that live downtown don’t have cars, We are a TOD district, many use the train, lots of empty nesters, and that’s part of the charm for them.

  4. Like Kelvin said, “We can’t build housing downtown fast enough. The more housing downtown the more people, the more restaurants will open and housing is the start of a vibrant downtown. This developer, John Guedes is betting on Bridgeport with his own money so this is a step in the right direction. Now all we have to do is wait until the summer to see if construction really begins.

  5. This is “market-rate rental housing”. What is the current definition of market-rate rental housing? Does it mean that there are no rental subsidies such as Section 8? Or, is rental subsidies the norm in Bridgeport and therefore reflects the Bridgeport market?

  6. Bridgeport has seven “opportunity zones” as stipulated by Trump’s tax law. Expect more of these things as Bridgeport’s mayor can anticipate a modest makeover (upside) in the years to come. More good news as shown by Primrose’s move: now that the existing stock has been purchased, demolition and NEW BUILD are the only options. New build is a sign of genuine growth! (smiling)

  7. I am sorry but I remain cynical. Honestly,I think this is all about Ganim’s re-election. Where the hell has Ganim and Guedes been the last three years about this project. Let’s remember that Ganim and Guedes also announced the “Ice-Rink” plan for Downtown. 100% private financing. AND with the pre-requisite juice bar.

      1. Lennie…thank you for that posting and it is important to keep the two “developments” separate. But, I ask again,where has Guedes and Ganim been over the last three years about the Congress Plaza Commons. And there is a similarity between the Congress Plaza Commons and the ice rink proposal. Both say 100% private financing. Please show us the money. Who is underwriting the Congress Plaza project AND the ice rink project.?

  8. Is someone..anyone.. willing to tell me and the BPT Community and taxpayers that John Guedes is ponying up for the full 60 million dollar cost of this Congress Hill Plaza? I think that is a simple question but no answers have been proffered.

  9. Frank, no need to worry. I’m sure the city council will do a thorough, exhaustive review of the LDA.
    ‘All in favor?’ Aye!!!!!! Everyone have their debit cards? Let’s have dinner.

  10. No one goes downtown unless it is to one of the courthouses, defense attorneys or bail bondsmen located there. After the goon show that closed Tiago’s…

    1. Derek, you’re clueless about Downtown. Are you capable of writing anything positive about the city of your residence, or you just prefer to marinate in your misery? You trash the city because you despise the political leadership irrespective of the positive things going on outside the political establishment. Several good people in Bridgeport stepped up for you when you were down and out and homeless. Now, you live off the government tit, but trash the city that helps provide that benefit.

      1. Thank you! So sick of seeing the same people trash talking the city while failing to see how dreadfully misinformed they actually are. Stop your trash talking and find something productive to say or do already FFS!

  11. *** Lets hope more than 10% of the new apts end up going on the affortable fair income’s act list. It should be 20% in this day & age of high city & state taxes, no? ***

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