Groundbreaking To Rehab Downtown North Buildings

Mayor Bill Finch, Urban Green Principal Eric Anderson and city and elected officials Thursday afternoon launched the groundbreaking to revitalize two historic buildings in Bridgeport’s Downtown North, 179 Middle Street and 1184 Main Street. The combined restoration of the Jayson-Newfield properties will feature 104 apartments and 8,000 square feet of ground floor retail space. Anderson transformed the old City Trust Bank and Arcade buildings Downtown into apartments and retail.

City Communications Director Brett Broesder has more:

Link to new video of Jayson (179 Middle St.) and Newfield (1184 Main St.):

“In Bridgeport, we’re making smart investments in the future,” said Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch. “One example of this is our improving downtown. We still have a lot of work to do, but it’s getting better every day. Downtown North currently serves as a reminder of broken promises from the past. Today, we mark the beginning of construction in Downtown North’s revitalization. It will result in more high-quality housing options, which are near public transit and hundreds of new jobs coming to the city.”

The project will be financed by a combination of the following sources: HUD 221(d)4 debt; CHAMP support from the State of Connecticut; Bridgeport HOME dollars; EPA Revolving Loan Fund; federal and state historic tax credits; and developer equity.

The Newfield Building (Originally Built: 1910)

The Newfield Building is a five-story, steel-frame and masonry building constructed in two phases between 1871 and 1907. The Building is located on the northeast corner of Golden Hill and Main Streets in Downtown Bridgeport’s North Historic District.

The Building is an example of nineteenth and twentieth century transitional Italianate/Queen Anne-style commercial design and occupies 63,384 square feet of space (in addition to a basement) on a 9,000 square foot lot. The Building spans 62 feet along the eastern side of Main Street, 66 feet along the western side of Middle Street, and 167 feet along the northern side of Golden Hill Street.

The bulk of Newfield’s internal structure requires replacement. The brick, metal and wood details of the building’s public façade will be maintained and refurbished. All interior finishes will be replaced.

The ground floor will contain approximately 8,000 square feet of commercial space with significant frontage along the Main Street commercial corridor as well as the residential entrance. Floors 2-5 will contain 48 new residences; 16 studios and 32 1-bedroom units.

The Jayson Building (Originally Built: 1893)

The Jayson Building is an historic, 4-story structure containing 57,454 SF located on Middle Street, immediately adjacent to and North of Newfield. The 10,649 square foot footprint encompasses the entire lot with 132 feet of frontage along the western side of Middle Street.

This relatively well-preserved example of a 19th century livery stable has a number of interesting historical features including original exterior masonry details, brownstone lintels and windowsills, and a brownstone pediment at a public-facing gable. While much of the existing structure will be retained and/or augmented all of the interior finishes will be replaced.

Upon completion, The Building will have residential apartments from Floors 1-4. In total, the building will house 56 units: 40 studios and 16 1-bedrooms.

An affiliate of Urban Green has executed a master lease for the entirety of the ground floor retail. The retail sub-tenants will be affiliated with food and bicycle retailers Urban Green operates, the first of which was opened in 1999. These existing retailers include: Prune, Contrada and The Spinster Sisters, all restaurants in either New York or California and Hastings Velo and NYC Velo, both bicycle stores.

The development of Block 912 is a nearly perfect example of the type of project the State of Connecticut has begun to take a more active interest in pursuing. Important characteristics include:

Ø Proximity to public transportation; the site sits within a five minute walk of both the Bridgeport Metro North and Amtrak rail station and the newly expanded regional bus depot.

Ø 100% of the units will be affordable to households earning 50-100% of area median income, i.e. the units are all “work force” units.

Ø The housing to be created will be designed to attract and retain younger tenants, a cohort that Connecticut loses at an alarming rate.

Ø Strengthening Connecticut’s cities by removing blight and adding households to existing downtowns.

Block 912 JV expects to close construction funding in two phases with the first closing–approximately $3MM of RLF, HOME & Developer Equity–in the Summer of 2014. This initial closing will allow the complete environmental clean-up and building stabilization of the project prior to the second closing, which will allow the balance of the building to be completed. Construction is projected to run approximately 16 months–with substantial completion after 12 months, which is the trigger for the residential leasing effort. The buildings should be 100% occupied within 24 months of the construction loan closing.

Block 912 represents Urban Green’s third phase in Bridgeport’s Downtown Bridgeport, with the first two phases located on Main Street, including 144 Golden Hill Street, an 8-story office building converted to apartments, office and retail space located directly across Main Street from Block 912.

Historic Tax Credit Overview

The project is eligible for approx. $4.6MM in Federal Historic Tax Credits and $5.1MM in Connecticut State Historic Tax Credits. Both Part I and Part II approvals have been received from SHPO/NPS. Because Connecticut is set up as a “certificate program” there is no recapture risk on the State credits.

Construction timeline is estimated at 12 months for substantial completion with 4 months for 100% completion with certificate of occupancy. Construction documents are complete and have been submitted for permit. Urban Green’s goal is to be placed in service 4Q 2015 or 1Q 2016.



  1. Great news! 104 units with 1000 to go to bring life downtown. At least one of my New Year’s predictions on the money. This activity going into the Spring should spur some optimism, especially in those who live and patronize downtown businesses.


    1. I agree Steve, this is great news. Those broken-down buildings are right down the street from the courthouse and a complete eyesore for decades. Nice to see someone is breathing new life into this waste of space.

  2. Great, that should provide some more tax-funded public housing or article # whatever it is. Can you say “tax increase?” Why not put that money to use and demolish those already wrecked buildings you see off I-95 coming from NY? Looks like Gaza or some such war zone. Ha! Bridgeport on the sound, a destination you want to be away from.

  3. It’s obvious these units are not for Bridgeport residents, so who are they for? With the Newfield Building Floors 2-5 will contain 48 new residences; 16 studios and The Jayson Building 32 one-bedroom units. 40 studios and 16 one-bedrooms. These are not family friendly.

    1. Attracting new tenants is the goal. Bridgeport has plenty of family units. Readers should be suspicious anytime Ron Mackey uses the word “obvious.”

    2. Who said they had to be for Bridgeport residents? They are for anybody willing to rent/buy the units. I guess only families live in Bridgeport and not singles.

    3. Ron–why would a BPT resident need a new apartment? They either 1- already have an apartment or 2- live in a house. I.E.- they are already BPT residents. The idea is to attract new residents.

  4. This press release is full of inaccuracies and typos. It says groundbreaking will be in summer of 2014? Says the interior will be restored? Sorry, the last time I walked through this building was 2005 and then the floors were totally unsafe to walk on because of all the water damage and rot. I wouldn’t be surprised if all the floors have since collapsed into the basement.
    This is an important landmark property for sure. Why has it sat there vacant during the seven years of the Finch Administration along with all the rest of Downtown North (that was all taken by eminent domain under Patrick Coyne and William Finch in the early 2000s under justification it was the circa 1970 Congress Street Plaza Municipal Development Plan)???
    As far as Urban Green is concerned, whatever happened to what was supposed to be Fat Cat Pizza on the first floor of City Trust that is vacant to this day? Ask Tony at Fat Cats down in Norwalk.
    The City wasted over ten years giving this broker/developer sole development rights on all of these properties, since, rescinded.
    Again, this should not be billed as a groundbreaking, it should be a public apology for the devastation of Downtown.

    1. Bob Halstead displays a lack of policy knowledge needed to be a member of Bridgeport’s City Council. Mayor Finch didn’t devastate downtown, he’s fixing it up!

      1. Local,
        We have entered Bill Finch’s eighth year in office as Mayor, and he is fixing it up now. Wonderful. Can you cut BRIDGEPORT TAXPAYERS some slack when they see he has presided over devastation for seven years, only to swing into action with November elections looming?
        The financing of these deals is a subject that bears more disclosure than we get. Too often the taxpayer does not realize the City taxpayer paid a larger dollar for property than they will see in a later deal … loss to the City!!! Or they find out annual property taxes by the celebrated new developer will be less per $ of value than the old standby owners. Or they find in the midst of the dealings, the City has held onto certain risks that are typically turned over to the user. Why does it seem our negotiating falls short as does the City reporting of same? And we have multiple public relations experts paid by the City for the Mayor and Police Chief who could be providing the ‘devilish details’ were they so instructed. Are they instructed to share or withhold? Time will tell.

      2. LE, are you looking at the same Downtown I and hundreds of thousands of commuters are seeing every day? Candide you are indeed!
        Yes I was at the committee meeting years ago when Finch was speaking on behalf of Coyne to take all these buildings. Excuse my institutional memory. Who are you, Local Eyes and what is your agenda here?

        1. Mr. Halstead, yes, we’re looking at the same awful downtown. The difference is years ago you attended the meeting while Mr. Finch was starting the transfer process. That was the foresight. What you saw yesterday was the follow through.

        2. Bob Halstead, why waste your time to reply to a no-name person, a person who is scared but they feel real big by running their mouth or post but who have no courage to give their real name because they are a coward.

  5. Imagine, Downtown during Mandanici, Paoletta, Bucci, Moran, Ganim, Fabrizi and now Finch. It’s a joke finally, something happening and Finch is the target. It is so funny, isn’t it? I mean really?

    Hopefully these buildings will house young professionals who can add life and patronize downtown restaurants and retail. Utilize the railways and add to the gentrification of Downtown.

    Fat Cat was a long time ago. It took too long to finish the building and he was getting the deal of the century with the penthouse unit. So he is gone. He was never here!!! In the end it will be the loss of Fat Cat.

    Black Rockin, the buildings in question that look like Baghdad or Gaza are supposed to be redeveloped into housing. That should be exciting if they ever get to it. Those are on Cherry St.

    Downtown does not need families as much as it needs young professionals who will utilize the transportation system. There may be a lot of incentives attached to these developments but it is a start to improve the climate to make developers see a market here in an area that is on its way. I’d love to see luxury housing downtown, but let’s face it, surrounded by such blight, what developer is going to be the first? Now there are projects happening, there is hope for future development. To the naysayers, it is sort of like putting water on the wicked witch. You are running out of arguments and never addressing issues worth addressing.

  6. We have observed the landscape and wasted structures for years. The article indicates a complex financial package of Federal, State and local funds including owner equity and also including tax credits has been crafted to provide living environments for “young urban pioneers” who forgo the automobile and use the rails to meet their job prospects out of town. That’s interesting and nice to know.

    What property tax special arrangements or abatements have been put in place for the development to move forward and for how long will current “full taxpayers” shoulder a subsidy at what annual expense? Finally, if the origin of the developable property was eminent domain, what was the cost to the City to acquire this property and how will such money be returned to the City and when as a part of new developments? Steve, hope you have no objection to looking behind the screen and seeing the real numbers. Time will tell.

  7. I love hearing about new development or rehabbing or repurposing existing real estate for mixed usage, more excited when they add to the tax base though. 🙂 Not big on tax abatements though.

  8. North Main St projects sounds great, substantial new wave of mostly private investment but no talk of advanced energy technology and higher performing buildings, as well as significant public and private investment needed to build dramatically more efficient infrastructure.
    Just saying.

  9. For the years it has taken to get to this point, it would have been wiser to remove all these once-historic buildings and make the area developer-ready, as done with Steel Point. The housing here will be 100% ‘affordable,’ which in Bridgeport means Section Eight.

  10. Most of the buildings on Main Street from Bulls Head to State Street need to be dropped. Not one is a truly historic structure (with the possible exception of the two theaters, but that’s another story). They are nothing more than pigeon roosts with lots of asbestos, faulty plumbing, faulty wiring, and structurally unsafe. The remediation needed is more expensive than the buildings are worth. Add to all this the 100+-year-old mechanicals in Main Street.
    Additionally, Bridgeport statutes require ALL new construction have adequate parking, but renovating an existing building (such as 100 Fairfield Ave in 1980) down to just one wall doesn’t require adequate parking. Go ask Phil Kuchma.
    It’s nice to see this pie-in-the-sky attempt, but the reality is downtown Bridgeport needs a master plan of true and complete rebuilding.

          1. When did Success Village become public housing? I thought they were owned co-ops. The Mayor needs to get involved?

  11. What ever happened with the Texas-based company who wanted to construct an office tower in downtown north? They wanted to start construction over a year ago! But the city was dragging its feet and risked losing it; who knows, they may have lost them already.

  12. McCarthy, standing in front of burned-out, falling-down structures: “Bpt, our time is now.” Lol. And on a side note, while Tom was saying ridiculous things in front of the media, who was doing his taxpayer-paid job???

  13. This is good news, but don’t be deceived. Bridgeport is in worse financial condition than when Mayor Finch took office. When the new assessments are completed it will be clear the City’s tax base has declined significantly under Mayor Finch. In addition, he has failed to control spending and taxes. He has also not taken steps to restructure the City’s unreasonable, unaffordable and unsustainable pension and retiree health care obligations in an equitable manner. In addition, Steel Point is a special tax district that will not generate additional property tax revenues for the City for many years. Finally, the City will likely lose or settle the major Wheelabrator property tax case after the November election. These are real factors that need to be considered and addressed in order to create a better future in Bridgeport.

  14. I would cap post-retirement indexing of pension benefits based on years of service and a calculated ratio to current employee pay for the position the person retired from. No one’s current pension would be cut and many retirees would not be affected at all. I would eliminate abuses relating to current workers (e.g, double dipping, spiking) and create a new plan for new hires. I would require people to be actually retired to receive retiree health benefits from the City. In addition, I would also place retirees in the ACA plans and provide additional defined contribution premium subsidies based on years of service. All of this is possible under current law given past Supreme Court decisions.


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