Scrapped Tax Deal Back On City Council Agenda, Finch Asks Council To Table It

Rejected by the City Council in May, the city’s legislative body tonight (Monday) may revisit a revised 35-year tax abatement for the mixed-use Crescent Crossing housing development at 252 Hallet Street on the East Side. Former Mayor Joe Ganim, a critic of the tax arrangement, is scheduled to address the council during the public speaking portion of the meeting at 6:30. Mayor Bill Finch has asked the council to table the measure. Related news release below. CT Post scribe Brian Lockhart has more here

Full Council agenda here.

News release from city Communications Director Brett Broesder:

Today, Mayor Bill Finch is urging the City Council to support a new program that will incentivize investors and developers to rehabilitate run down properties in the city.

The new program–titled the Enterprise Zone Ordinance–provides a seven year fiscal incentive for developers and investors to create jobs and rehab properties for owner occupancy.

“In order to improve areas like the East Side by transforming the neighborhood into the job creating engine that it can be, we need to create quality housing while incentivizing developers to revitalize run down properties,” said Mayor Finch.

Click here for a copy of the Enterprise Zone Ordinance.

“This program will help the East Side rehab blighted properties while creating jobs, and making our neighborhoods safer,” said Councilwoman Lydia Martinez. “It’s a win-win for the city.”

With the Enterprise Zone Ordinance, only contractors in Bridgeport can take advantage of the fiscal incentives, providing more development opportunities for Bridgeport residents and businesses.

“I support this ordinance wholeheartedly because I feel it will restore a sense of pride and promote home ownership in our community,” said Aidee Nieves, President of the East Side Neighborhood Revitalization Zone (NRZ). “This is a huge step in the right direction and will help promote self sufficiency.”

The proposed ordinance also requires that all work on the blighted or abandoned property be done in a timely fashion, without interruption or delay. It also states that properties must be owner-occupied or sold to owner-occupants.

“Taking on blighted properties is a priority for our city,” said Bridgeport Anti-Blight Director and State Representative Chris Rosario. “This measure is a great step toward a further revitalized Bridgeport.”

And, the Enterprise Zone Ordinance will only allow one-family, two-family or three-family structures to be built on these former blighted or abandoned properties.

“This measure will improve our quality of life in the East Side and throughout Bridgeport,” said East Side Neighborhood Revitalization Zone (NRZ) member Guillermo Marin who came up with the idea for the new ordinance. “It helps out our city and its residents and will tackle blight head on.”

Crescent Crossing
Mayor Finch is also asking the city council to table a full council vote on fiscal incentives associated with the development of Phase II for Crescent Crossing, which is a job creating project on the city’s East Side that will result in new quality apartments at Monday evening’s council meeting.

“Crescent Crossing is a tremendous project that will create jobs and bring new high-quality apartments to a parcel that has been neglected and off of the tax rolls for decades,” said Mayor Finch. “But we want to ensure measures that complement one another can pass together whenever it makes sense. That’s why I’m asking council members to consider tabling the Crescent Crossing measure in order to wait until it can be voted on with the Enterprise Zone Ordinance.”

Crescent Crossing will be a privately developed, mixed-income community located in the City’s East Side between Waterview Avenue and Hallett Street.

Click here for a Fact Sheet about Crescent Crossing.

The location for the Crescent Crossing job creating project has a storied history.

It once served as home to Father Panik Village, which was built to replace shanties for factory workers, and housed nearly 5,000 people in 46 three-story buildings spread over 40 acres after opening in 1941 (LA Times, 1/9/1994).

But in 1986, due to crime and drug trafficking getting out of control at the site, the city decided it could not be saved and began knocking down buildings. By the fall of 1994, workers began demolishing the last 15 buildings (LA Times, 1/9/1994).

The land has been readied for development for more than a decade, however, it became entangled in a corruption scandal in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Former Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim entered into a ‘pay-to-play’ deal with two contractors–Alfred Lenoci Jr. and Alfred Lenoci Sr.–to develop the land in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars in kickbacks and a $35,000 worth of free construction on his house. The two contractors and former Mayor Ganim served federal prison time related to the scandal (Hartford Courant, 2/19/2003).



  1. In my opinion it’s hard to understand since I’m not an insider. From what I’m hearing Finch and his administration are corrupt and Ganim’s is the solution, not any of the other candidates for mayor. From the outside looking in I see investors and investments dry up after the Ganim case. It was hard for Fabrizi to bring in new development to Bridgeport. Finch took office in the global financial depression of 2008. We talk about how taxes went up but what about everything else? People lost for pension, food, gas, utilities, medical, etc. skyrocketed. People lost their homes, their home value went down by 50% maybe 60% probably. Companies were closing, people were losing their jobs. People didn’t have the extra money to spend, which created less money for municipalities to collect on taxes to pay their bills. In times like what Finch had to deal with, smart cuts and tax increases were not an option unless you wanted to do what Greece or Puerto Rico did and borrow money instead of making smart tax increase and budget cuts, that would have been even more burdensome for cities and their residents in the long run. I don’t know about you but I’m glad Bridgeport is not where Greece and Puerto Rico are. Finch should be applauded, not condemned for his actions. Like love, politics is blind.

  2. I recall well the intent of the Tax Incentive Development Program ordinance adopted by the city council in 1992. The purpose was to encourage commercial development that created jobs and contributed to the tax base.

    I was not aware until recently when I did some research on my own (not revealed by the media or a council member) and found that the city council adopted in November 2013 (the last meeting of the previous council) an ordinance to provide tax breaks for affordable housing projects. Brilliant!

    Just what a distressed municipality needs. Shift the burden of property taxes away from government-subsidized rental housing projects to an already over-taxed commercial and residential base. Brilliant!

    Oh, and the ‘developers’ are contributors to Finch’s campaign.

    Robert Teixeira, you have a lot to learn if you’d care to.

    1. Yes you’re right, I do. I know developers contribute to all campaigns including Ganim’s. Didn’t United Property contribute to Ganim’s campaign when he was mayor? I’m not here to get into a pissing contest. I’m kind of using this forum as a constructive writing class. If you knew me as a kid, you would really know how much I have to learn. To be honest, four years ago I barely knew how to read and write. Here’s a fact, I graduated from Central High School and went to share time at Bullard-Havens nights and I didn’t even know how to read or write. Hell, I wasn’t even spelling my last name correctly. (I had issues.) I don’t know nor do I say I know. I’ll tell what I do know, Seaside Park is a crown jewel of Bridgeport and the GOVERNING BODY allows it to be used as a landfill (dump), that’s crazy. Didn’t the council reject the proposal already? Negotiate a deal that gives relief for Bridgeport tax base and the developer. Is there a middle ground? And while I do have a lot to learn, I believe my original statement is valid.

      1. Robert, I hope you get involved and learn more about governance in Bridgeport. Many people who post on OIB are knowledgeable and articulate. Some are funny or sarcastic at times. Most are opinionated. We all arrive by different paths. I arrived in 1983 with an MBA degree, a corporate job and convinced the recommendations of the Management Advisory Committee and later the Financial Review Board were helpful blueprints to follow. Then my education began. Bridgeport governance now is dominated by retail politicians who are unwilling to base decisions on lessons learned from previous administrations, choosing instead to create their own version of reality. Robert, follow your curiosity and (very carefully) get involved.

        1. Tom White, I agree 100% with you. The blueprint for Bridgeport has been paid for and is right there to be put into place. The MAC Report help point out many things that were wrong in running the Bridgeport Fire Dept. and those changes were made and there was no need to go through the union and those changes have improved the the running of the department. The second part of big change was the Financial Review Board, now in the fire Dept. we took some very big financial losses in our pay but it help change the climate and the City’s financial condition. Members of the current City Council know nothing about what you stated Tom, nothing.

    2. Good post, Tom. FYI, I called the City Clerk’s office on Thursday looking for a phone number for a council member, the office was closed. I tried another resource, and was directed to the Council liaison by the name of Mike. Just Mike, no last name given. Tom, I was wondering if you know of this person and what it is he does as liaison.

        1. Tom, what does this “Mike” do, and what authority gives McCarthy the right to hire? Is this “Mike” doing half the job you did, and if he’s working as a liaison to the Council how and how much is he being paid? Does his salary come from Mayor’s personal budget or is his position in reality called by another title coming from the budget of another department? I’m curious about this one.

          1. Lisa, my case in Federal Court is proceeding. This is off-topic but you picked up on an important component of my case. Essentially, I was terminated illegally (via layoff) and the funds for my position were moved to the city clerk’s office (even thought they did not specifically request it) and McCarthy, not the city clerk, hired ‘Mike’ to do many of the functions I did. Let me stop here. It gets more interesting and I will thoroughly enjoy having details of what went on explained to a jury. Perhaps Lennie will have me do another update.

  3. I could be wrong but what I see is a shift from government housing development to private housing development. Either way it’s a burden on the tax base. The question is for how long.

    1. Robert, that all depends on the length of tax abatements as well as the legitimacy of who is granted one. Back in the day companies would be granted a five to ten year abatement, and as soon as the abatement expired, they booked. That’s another story for another time. To shift a bit, in the Mayor’s comments above, Guillermo Marin, a NRZ member from the respective district made a suggestion that an ordinance be created to address combining housing issues in that area. I don’t know enough of the intricacies involving this suggestion, and it may have merit, but why did it have to come from an NRZ member and not one of the council people representing that district? I was serving on the council when the Federal government gave permission to gut FPV with the mandate each unit be replaced. That was almost 29 years ago, and five administrations ago, and Finch is blaming Ganim. It’s obvious Joe’s going to take legitimate hits as this campaign continues, but come on people, keep it real!

  4. Robert: I’ve spent two decades studying the political process in Bridgeport, as well as the way the State of Connecticut and the US government interact with Bridgeport. I must also note I have been involved in environmental and good-government activism, as well as public safety and economic development activism during this time.

    I’ve seen a lot during this time–in regard to what goes on in Bridgeport and how Bridgeport is treated by the State of Connecticut and US government.

    From my perspective, I believe the deck has been deliberately stacked against Bridgeport by the state and federal government on behalf of the wealthy towns down-county. There is a policy, orchestrated by the wealthy towns down-county, whereby Bridgeport is deliberately kept poor such that our large labor pool is kept available to maintain the tax base and lifestyle of the down-county towns. Hence there are few living-wage jobs in Bridgeport and most working Bridgeporters have to commute to down-county jobs in Stamford, Greenwich, and other affluent suburban towns in Fairfield County in order to have some kind of work.(We must remember a high percentage of Bridgeporters are not working–we have about 70% of our people in the poverty or near-poverty zone.)

    While Stamford and other Fairfield County towns get huge state and federal subsidies to help attract high-value businesses and jobs to these towns, Bridgeport gets very little -and the little we get is usually for housing or for types of development the other towns don’t want (such as jails, drug treatment centers, waste disposal facilities, incinerators, etc.). Housing might seem like something very desirable for a town, but if it means bringing more people into your town than there are jobs for or available services and schools for, then adding housing stock to your town works against all of the inhabitants.

    That is why Stamford and other towns are eager for us to house their workforce while they keep their populations stable and tax bases growing. We supply the labor to keep their tax bases growing, and lifestyles high (and taxes low), while we have to pay for all the services their workers (living in our town) need–and we have to do it without big commercial taxpayers to help us. We, the residents of Bridgeport, have to foot our giant tax bill for their benefit. The wealthy towns get a free ride off of our shirtless backs.

    That is why our taxes are insanely high, our services poor, our schools underfunded and failing, and our city is generally falling apart (we have three major bridges linking vital areas of the city that have been closed for decades).

    Now, keep in mind Joe Ganim tried to bring jobs and tax base to the city back in the ’90s–the casino initiative–but was mightily opposed by the down-county folks (especially Stamford and Greenwich–who want to make sure their cheap labor pool in Bridgeport will never have good Bridgeport jobs and will always have to commute to their towns in the morning, take care of their businesses, and then leave at night; thus, they have a no-cost labor force).

    So Robert; while there is some corruption in Bridgeport (as in all places), that is not our big problem. There was major corruption in Stamford when they were becoming a boom town. The corruption didn’t keep businesses from knocking down their doors–because the state and federal government kept sweetening the pot for businesses to locate there (because there was already power in those towns that had leverage in Hartford and Washington).

    Don’t be fooled by those who would blame local corruption on Bridgeport’s problems. If you want to know the source of our problems, follow the power and money down-county and to the suburbs.

    I would suggest you go to the City Council meeting on Monday and listen and watch the proceedings. I suspect you’ll have an eye-opening experience! (I also suspect the Council is going to cancel the tax-break vote. It’s too hot an issue at this critical time in the election, and the Mayor doesn’t want to be embarrassed by the controversy if he loses–or if he wins.)

    But listen to what Joe Ganim, and others, have to say.

  5. Jeff, but is the US Government really? The first settler genocide 90% of their Indian population and then forced the rest of their land and made the camp, I mean reservation. Black people were considered 3/5 of a human being and that was an improvement in status for them.
    We all have junk drawers in our houses. Every home has a bedroom, housing is based on population I think. Just because Bridgeport is one of the bedrooms for Connecticut, it doesn’t have to be a dump. So I think it has a lot to do with the type of housing projects and style that are being built. I think the local businesses and the Bridgeport residents would benefit from new development housing and commercial. What Bridgeport residents wouldn’t like to move into the new housing units? I don’t know the tax structure of this housing project. I would hope Bridgeport isn’t that corrupt that on one hand it would deny Bridgeport residents new housing or on the other it would overburden the residents on the tax base by given a too-generous tax relief. If the Council cancels the vote I hope it’s not base on corruption. I hope Bridgeport’s council isn’t that corrupt, Jeff. I hope it would be because it was because the council wants a better tax relief deal for Bridgeport or their might be a better project for the land. Whatever their rationale, Finch’s effort to bring new housing to Bridgeport residents should not be condemned.
    How many people do you know live out of Bridgeport but commute to Bridgeport for work because of their higher-paying job? How many Bridgeport cops live out of town? That a decent-paying job, so if Finch said he wanted to make sure the newly hired cops to be from Bridgeport, that would be a positive for Bridgeport and its residents, right? I would bet most Bridgeport business owners and people who have higher-paying jobs who work in Bridgeport don’t live in Bridgeport. If there’s a systematic effort to keep Bridgeport’s residents in a lower working pool then the real culprit is the BOE. If the school system is not giving the residents the skills to negotiate their value than yes they will be taken advantage of. Believe me, I’ve seen evil firsthand. And I agree with you there’s an effort by an unseen force to subjugate individuals, just like there’s an unseen force trying to capture and subjugate your soul.
    Listening to Joe Ganim was not the problem.

    1. Robert, about 75% of the police and fire departments live outside of the city of Bridgeport. This was bought to the attention of Mayor Finch at a meeting in 2011. He completely ignored what Ron Mackey and I were telling him, in fact he looked us in the face and lied to us about what he would do to see more blacks and women and Bridgeport residents would continue to be hired on both.

      The fact is under Mayor Finch fewer blacks, women and Bridgeport residents have been hired than any mayor since the police lawsuit was filed in 1970 and the fire lawsuit that was filed in 1976. For the first time in 45 years no blacks were hired on the police department and for the first time in 35 years no blacks or women were hired on the fire department. Now there’s a push to hire blacks and Bridgeport residents and my question to you is would it be an issue had this not been an election year and will it still be an issue if he is re-elected.

      I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, you don’t really know Finch until he has looked you in your eyes and guaranteed, assured and promised, and then lied to you.

  6. Robert, I’m afraid you missed my point. I am not against decent housing for everyone, I’m just trying to make the point if Bridgeport only gets housing–that brings people who need expensive services–and doesn’t get the high-value businesses that pay taxes and provide good jobs for people, then our city will only get poorer and poorer and more and more run-down.

    That is what is happening to Bridgeport, and it’s happening because we are poor and the wealthy towns benefit from our difficulties.

    Yes. We are deliberately being kept down by the US government and the State of Connecticut.

    I can’t be any clearer. Housing is great, but not without big businesses and good jobs to support the people who live in it.

    Mayor Finch has stated he wants to double the population of Bridgeport, by building more and more housing. Why would he want to do this when we can’t take care of the people we already have? Doesn’t that make you think maybe something is wrong with the way things are being done in Bridgeport?! (Bridgeport is the victim of class warfare/exploitation of the poor at the state and federal levels, and our current city government is giving this high-level corruption its blessing under Mayor Finch.)

    Go to the City Council meeting tomorrow night. You’ll learn something.

    1. I missed it because it’s one-sided I think and it sounds really ironic on the corruption issues. I don’t know about the population thing. I know what Finch said about Steel Point and the businesses he said were coming. Bridgeport is not going to be the new Silicon Valley. I’m pro entertainment destination for Bridgeport. Whatever corporations Bridgeport can attract, that’s great too. If Bridgeport is the victim of class warfare I would focus on education, nothing keeps a person down like a poorly educated kid, and I know that firsthand.
      >a target=”_blank” href=””>www

  7. It definitely is an issue in his re-election of 2015. It wasn’t in his re-election of 2011. Why that was I don’t know. Obviously whoever has an agenda of seeing this election as a opportunity with Ganim is going to seize it. Better things get done for the city. Maybe Torres is right, that’s because Bridgeport lacks a viable Republican Party. My opinion is not that cops are black, white or Hispanic. It’s the content and character of the person being hired. What happened in Beardsley Park was not a race issue, it was a policing issue. Police are going to be equipped with body cameras. This type of policing tactic can’t continue no matter what race you are. Everything and every move they do will be on camera. It’s a highly stressful and psychological job and they take that stuff they see and experience home with them. Didn’t the Federal Government recent give Bridgeport full control of its police force? I’m not left or right, black or white, red or blue. I’m not pro-Finch because I’m anti-Ganim. I’m just a human being who sees people suffer needlessly by the hands of evil. I respect the game, but we need to be honest with ourselves.

  8. Robert, the police budget for personnel for calender year 2013-2014 was over 17 million dollars and that doesn’t include overtime. That’s 12.5 million dollars leaving Bridgeport every year going to the uplift of the suburban communities. The fire department had similar numbers as well. Another indisputable fact is no suburban police officer or firefighter has moved to Bridgeport after getting these jobs.

    Why is this Mayor with his new hiring policies continuing to send these jobs to the suburbs, jobs which are transformative and can and will change lives? Why isn’t there a real effort on behalf of the residents of Bridgeport from Mayor Finch to keep these jobs in the hands of Bridgeport residents? I know from which I speak because when I came on the job as a firefighter there were very few of us who owned a home, but when I retired virtually every one of us owned our own home. The rule of the day should be you don’t have to stay a Bridgeport resident, but you sure as hell have to start out as one. Hartford does this and so should Bridgeport.

  9. Mayor Finch is asking the Crescent Crossing financial incentives issue be tabled. It’s understandable: Finch was going to give a 35-year tax abatement to a Stamford-based developer, no strings attached. The same developer made a $4000 contribution to Finch’s re-election campaign. Tonight Joe Ganim is going to attend the City Council meeting. Finch is afraid of the public embarrassment of being questioned about that $4000. Take the money and run, Bill. You don’t have to refund it.

    1. Bridgeport Kid,
      A $4,000 donation is hardly worth a 35-year tax abatement. You couldn’t possibly be that stupid, could you? Well Kid, the answer is yes. What is most surprising is the councilmen and State senators and reps as well as the community should be supporting this. Not because it is obviously a less than desirable situation but because the neighborhood is desperately in need of new housing and attractive housing. The project could stimulate other development, local business on East Main St. would profit. This is what happens when minorities in underserved areas become political footballs. Kid remember, this property was one that involved Ganim during his corruption trial with pay to play. Isn’t it almost a joke he would be grand standing on an issue and punishing the very constituents he has in his back pockets? A $4000 donation is equal to a 35-year abatement. Litter-strewn property for this neighborhood is what they have had since Ganim was Mayor. Go figure.

  10. What Finch is really saying is he will allow this little tax incentive (7 years) to go forward on very restrictive properties as long as he gets his 35-year tax break for a very large property that he has promised.
    He wants them voted together so it is totally understood, no 35-year tax break for my peeps, no small break for your peeps.
    You vote against me and I will veto your proposed ordinance.
    So Cabana Boy, I believe the answer to your question is he will choke all the small property owners if the council fails to give him what he wants.

  11. So the Council should grow a set of balls and not table his plan. Vote it down tonight and tell the mayor you might reconsider if your program is approved and funded.
    Now Lydia, that’s a win-win.

  12. Finch will win this vote tonight. Lydia Martinez sold out for a chance for a spot on the Finch ticket. The other Hispanics will vote with her. Watch!!!

    1. They should! For the good of the neighborhood and the people who live there. Imagine, walking distance to two very nice schools, Barnum and Waltersville. Does anyone pay attention to the future?

  13. Andy, it is doubtful Finch will win this one. He wants the resolution tabled, not voted on. If it is voted on by the full Council he will lose. That would add to a list of embarrassments that grows longer every day.

  14. I have organized against this sort of Corporate Welfare in Bridgeport and in the state. The Democratic party is constantly accusing Republicans of such things.

    Finch is a toady for the rich as have been all the last many mayors. Giving these abatements means the taxpayer is an unremunerated partner in the deal. Atlanta is way ahead of us in this corrupt process. Read what their objectors say:

    “Until you have alternative housing that is affordable, available and appropriate, you have no business going into these communities and destroying them,” said Anita Beaty, the executive director of the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless. “To disperse these people without giving them alternatives is wrong.”

    The real winners, Ms. Beaty said, are business developers who make fortunes once the projects are torn down and the neighborhoods gentrify. For years, wealthier Atlantans, frustrated by long commutes, have been moving closer to their jobs downtown and, critics say, displacing poorer residents to outlying suburbs.

    “Very much intertwined in all of this is the issue of race,” said Deirdre Oakley, a professor of sociology at Georgia State University. “The people being affected are almost all poor African-Americans.”

    So it’s developers who win. Not residents. Not taxpayers. This program with JHM Group is a disgrace. JHM is scheduled to take over Marina Village 2. They already have Marina 1 with a great tax deal.

  15. Robert: it takes a healthy tax base and competent leadership to create first-class public education systems. Bridgeport doesn’t have either. Steal Point will not even move us an inch in that direction.

    Maybe we won’t be Silicon Valley, but there are many high-value products that could be produced here.

    If parents don’t have good jobs and reasonable working hours, it is impossible to create a first-class education system in Bridgeport. Effective education starts with stable, prosperous families. I’m sure you would agree with that.

    The only types of jobs that could produce that kind of prosperity in Bridgeport are manufacturing jobs. With our universities, community colleges and technical high schools, we can have high-value manufacturing here, if we want it (maybe even Silicon Valley).

    Don’t listen to the naysayers, Robert; they have their own, selfish agenda for Bridgeport.


Leave a Reply