City policy wonk Jeff Kohut shares an alternative view about Steelpointe Harbor in this commentary. “To go in another direction and ponder lost opportunities in the absence of actual planning: We might have had Bridgewater Capital at Steel Point had we not had Gold Coast lackeys making decisions for Bridgeport development in City Hall and Hartford.”
The whole Steelpointe project–from the inception–was flawed in that it was (apparently) not conceived in resonance with any vision-based, comprehensive scheme of citywide redevelopment that was designed to address the enormous (positive) tax base and living wage jobs needs of our city. (There has never been any official, city, state, or federal analysis of Bridgeport’s needs in that regard, so such a comprehensive, goal-directed plan of redevelopment is impossible in any event.)
We see from Lennie Grimaldi’s very well written article intended to bring us up to date on the Steelpointe development, that about $25 million in public money–local/state/federal taxpayer money was used up to this point to accomplish the creation of about 125 mostly part-time jobs for city residents and about $1.4 million in annual taxes which must be directed toward the public service and infrastructure needs and debt recovery/debt servicing needs of the development (as do all local tax moneys collected from the project for at least the next 20 years).
We know that an enormous amount of money was spent on land acquisition by the city, per eminent domain seizures, and that very significant tax money was also lost by the city over these past decades of land acquisition as taxable property was taken off the tax rolls.
So Bridgeport has to recoup many millions of dollars in direct investment and forgone taxes before there can be any net, positive effect from this development.
With a 300-unit residential aspect to this project, the increased infrastructure and services requirements involved in the completed development would seem to indicate that it will be decades before this project has a positive tax impact on the city. The paltry, permanent local jobs-creation prospects wouldn’t seem to be something that will do much to nudge the economic impact of this project into the positive side of the ledger any time soon for the city, either.
Given the prospects for the state and regional economies, it doesn’t seem terribly likely that the local/regional patronage of the planned offerings of the presently conceived Steelpointe have much of a chance of resulting in anything near a required return on investment for the private investors or taxpayers. Indeed, it seems much more likely that only the housing will be sustainable–and only within the scheme of the state/regional plan for Bridgeport as the “Housing Hub” for the region (i.e., Bridgeport as “servants’ quarters” for the region).
So while a constant drumbeat of skepticism and negativity about real and planned development in Bridgeport is tedious at best, and sickening at worst; is cheerleading presently indicated in this regard?!
If we look at Bridgeport’s reality and do any sort of critical analysis of the planning and steps being taken to address that grim reality and replace it with any sort of realistic vision for a bright and prosperous future for our city, we must allow reason to win out and force us to admit that we’re coming up way, way short of what we need.
Again; where is the analysis and numbers generation around which to create a real vision and plan for the city? Without the analysis, there can be no plan. And truly, a discernible vision for the city has yet to be presented by any modern, Bridgeport City Hall–with or without the analysis. What kind of place do we want to be in 20, 30, 40, or 50 years? If we don’t know then we can’t take meaningful, logical, goal-directed steps to get us there.
Do we want to be WATERWORLD? DISNEYWORLD? Why? Presumably, whatever we pursue by way of development should make us more prosperous and viable over the short and long terms. Does Steelpointe strongly play into at least this very general, nebulous vision? How? How much tax money will be realized from a completed Steelpointe? When? How many living-wage jobs? What will they be?
At this point, this Bridgeporter doesn’t see any reason to say Steelpointe versus “Stealpoint.”
No matter how impressive the artists’ renderings for Steelpointe, or the proposed Exact Theater Complex development, there is simply no context in which to perceive either of these proposed projects as realistic or resonant with any sort of overall prosperity plan for the city. Lots of “iffy” glitz–nothing based on needs analyses or any sort of comprehensive plan to address those needs. And not even any sort of complete vision! Even a fanciful, albeit complete, long-term vision for the city would be a reason for some optimism. But all we see here are a couple of disjoint, fanciful plans that present “nothing much” in the form of living-wage jobs, much less positive cash flow for the city. And they don’t even present a stand-alone development fit for the city/region/state as things now stand, let alone a fit as part of a grand scheme and plan for the city and its short and long-term prosperity.
To go in another direction and ponder lost opportunities in the absence of actual planning: We might have had Bridgewater Capital at Steel Point had we not had Gold Coast lackeys making decisions for Bridgeport development in City Hall and Hartford. At least that would have meant serious tax revenue and the prospect of future, similar firms, and permanent, supportive jobs in Bridgeport. And so it goes with economic planning and decision-making in Bridgeport City Hall and Hartford. We can see where we’ve been taken by the Gold Coast-serving models for our region and the state.
The question is: Are we just going to allow ourselves to languish and decay per the state/regional non-plan for Bridgeport (and the rest of the state east/northeast of us)? Are we going to keep deluding ourselves about our future by cheerleading fanciful projects that can have little benefit for the city, even if realized? Are we going to keep supporting representation in Hartford, Washington, and City Hall that is either clueless, indifferent, or deliberately operating contrary to our needs and reasonable municipal ambitions?
Clearly, critically considered, the sum total of Bridgeport economic development (recent/new, proposed, drawing board, and evolving) amounts to little more than a distraction from our real, growing needs and negative economic momentum.
Let’s have the real facts/numbers about where we are and where we need to go in terms of tax base and jobs growth. And then let’s hear some real vision and planning in that regard.
Steelpointe: What’s the point?!