Mayor Bill Finch on Wednesday highlighted what is expected to be the linchpin of his reelection effort, construction at the Steelepointe Harbor redevelopment area of the East Side, as former Mayor Joe Ganim is poised to challenge Finch for his old job. Ganim could make a formal entry into the race as soon as Thursday. This is gonna be one crazy election. Strap in. CT Post reporter Brian Lockhart weighs in here. From city Communications Director Brett Broesder:
Today, Mayor Bill Finch kicked off the construction season at Steelpointe Harbor, which is a waterfront development in the state’s largest city, representing the biggest economic development project in Park City since the Industrial Revolution.
“After decades of broken promises, construction is finally happening at Steel Point,” said Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch. “Starbucks, Bass Pro Shops, and Chipotle will all open this fall. Once complete, this waterfront development will be home to apartments, retail, hotels, a grocery store, and more. It will create thousands of jobs and add tens of millions of dollars to our tax rolls. This is yet another great example of how Bridgeport is getting better every day.”
Regarding the history of developing Steelpointe Harbor, the Wall Street Journal reported (SOURCE: Wall Street Journal. “Bridgeport’s Steel Point Redevelopment Nears Launch.” April 7, 2014. By Joseph de Avila.):
Former Mayor Leonard Paoletta was the first to try to remake Steel Point in the early 1980s, though the project failed to advance for years. One of the biggest setbacks was a scandal involving former Mayor Joseph Ganim, who was convicted in 2003 on 16 charges that included receiving about $500,000 in bribes and kickbacks.
According to federal prosecutors, a group of developers promised to raise $500,000 for Mr. Ganim’s anticipated gubernatorial campaign in exchange for allowing them to develop Steel Point. But that deal fell apart when the developers came under the scrutiny of federal law enforcement, and no money ever changed hands.
People lost their sense of trust in the political community,” said Paul Timpanelli, chief executive of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council. Getting the project started will help change the perception that nothing ever happens in Bridgeport, Mr. Timpanelli added.
But because of the leadership of Mayor Bill Finch, things have changed. The Bass Pro Shops currently being constructed at Steelpointe Harbor will be the only Bass Pro in the entire state. And, the Starbucks and Chipotle represent firsts in the state’s largest city.
Once complete, Steelpointe Harbor will serve a 2 million square foot super regional waterfront project located adjacent to I-95 in Bridgeport Connecticut. Spanning 82 acres, the project will feature more than 750,000 square feet of retail, restaurants and entertainment, a 12-screen premium theater, two hotels, 1,100 mid-and-high rise residential units, 30,000 square feet of office and a 200-slip full service deep water marina.
Mayor Finch was joined at today’s press conference by City Council members Lydia Martinez, Milta Feliciano, AmyMarie Vizzo-Paniccia and Melanie Jackson, along with Director of Public Facilities Jorge Garcia and City Engineer Jon Urquidi.