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Steel Point A Step Closer

June 19th, 2012 · 22 Comments · Analysis and Comment, Development and Zoning

Steel Point

Steel Point redevelopment area. Photo courtesy of Morgan Kaolian.

It’s been decades in the making generating heavy doses of hope–and cynicism–to transform a beleaguered section of the East Side, but city officials say “The Steelpointe Interlocal Agreement marks another step forward in the development of the peninsula.” The agreement between the city and The Steel Point Infrastructure Improvement District that permits the district to issue bonds up to $190 million has been submitted to the City Council for approval.

The entity would finance the infrastructure for a development that upon completion is “expected to contain a new pedestrian-oriented urban neighborhood containing a mix of uses permitted by the General Development Plan adopted for and governing the permitted uses in the District, including retail, entertainment, office, residential, hotel, conference center, marina, yacht club, various marine related uses and a public promenade.”

The agreement has been referred to the Council’s Economic and Community Development Environment Committee. Two meetings in City Hall have been planned by the committee, this Thursday, 6:30 p.m in the Wheeler Room B and June 26, 6:30 p.m. in Wheeler Room B. City officials and the developer Bridgeport Landing led by Robert Christoph will provide  details about the agreement.

A public hearing will take place before the agreement goes to the full Council for approval, according to Elaine Ficarra, communications director for Mayor Bill Finch.

City officials express optimism that an anchoring retailer could be announced this summer. Former Democratic Town Chair John Stafstrom, the city’s bond counsel, helped to draft  the agreement. Stafstrom is a key player in moving the project forward both in his role as city bond counsel as well as his strong relationships with state officials such as Governor Dannel Malloy and his chief legal counsel Andrew McDonald. State assistance is critical in making the project a reality.

Some highlights  from the proposed agreement:

A portion of the District Improvements will be financed with the proceeds of the Bonds (the “Bond Funded District Improvements”), a portion of the District Improvements will be financed by advances from the Developer (the “Developer Funded Advances”), and a portion of the District Improvements will be financed by grants or other sources of capital as may be available from time to time …

District Improvements are not capital projects of the City, the District Improvements will not be funded with capital funds of the City and the City will have no financial or other obligations with respect to the funding, construction, maintenance, repair or replacement of the District Improvements except as otherwise may be specified as described herein or, in the Development Agreement …

Bridgeport Landing Development, LLC, a Florida limited liability company, or one or more of its permitted assignees or transferees (collectively, the “Developer”), intends to master develop a mixed-use development upon the District Property to be known as Steel Point Landing, also known as Steel Pointe Harbor Development or Steelpointe Harbor Development (the “Development”) and without construction of the District Improvements, the Development cannot be built …

Upon completion, the Development is expected to contain a new pedestrian-oriented urban neighborhood containing a mix of uses permitted by the General Development Plan adopted for and governing the permitted uses in the District, including retail, entertainment, office, residential, hotel, conference center, marina, yacht club, various marine related uses and a public promenade …

The Development is expected to stimulate economic development and growth within the City to benefit its citizens and to generate significant revenues for the City, including without limitation, increased ad valorem tax revenue and other fees and charges related to the Development …

The Interlocal Act provides that any public agency of the State of Connecticut may participate in developing and implementing an interlocal agreement with any public agency or agencies of the State of Connecticut or any other state or states providing for the joint performance of any function that each participating public agency may perform separately under any provision of the general statutes or of any special act, charter or home rule ordinance …

In exchange for the significant material benefits to be received and enjoyed by the City and its residents and the fiscal benefit anticipated to be received by the City as a result of the construction of the Development, including the District Improvements in accordance with the Development Agreement, and in consideration for the performance by the District of its obligations described in this Agreement, the City has agreed to direct the Tax Collector to transfer the Tax Increment Payments (as defined herein) from the Special District Fund (as defined herein) to the Trustee for payment to the District in accordance with this Agreement …

The City has authorized the creation of a Special District Fund and has directed the Tax Collector to deposit into the Special District Fund the Tax Increment Payments …

The Act permits the District to issue bonds in an amount up to $190,000,000 secured by Tax Incremental Revenues and Benefit Assessments (plus additional bonds exclusively secured by revenues from the property financed with the bonds, and any bonds issued to refund the Bonds) and the District plans to initially authorize the issuance of its bonds in an amount not to exceed $190,000,000 which may be issued in one or more series, to pay for the cost of the Bond-Funded District Improvements, the costs of issuance, a debt service reserve fund, an amount not to exceed $123,200 for pre-funded Administrative Expenses, and capitalized interest and other costs necessary for the issuance of …

The board of directors of the District (the “Board”) shall consist of five members, at least three of whom shall be Connecticut residents, with one member selected by the Mayor. The Board shall be appointed, nominated and/or elected by the District property owners as provided in the Act and Section 4.1 of the Development Agreement. All Board members (other than the director appointed by the Mayor pursuant to the Act) shall be elected by a vote of the then-current property owners within the District as provided in the Act. At the organizational meeting of the District, five directors, inclusive of a president, vice president, a clerk and a treasurer were elected by the then-current property owners within the District to serve until the first annual meeting for the election of officers and thereafter.

The board of directors currently includes Chief of Staff Adam Wood and Ed Lavernoich, Bridgeport’s ex deputy director of economic development who’s now the chief development official in Trumbull. Officials expect the makeup of the board will change over time.

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22 Comments so far ↓

  • CityTruster

    “City officials express optimism that an anchoring retailer could be announced this summer.”

    We’re not still talking Walmart, are we?

  • Grin Reaper

    YES, WE ARE TALKING WAL-F’N-MART.

  • Grin Reaper

    BS
    A portion of the District Improvements will be financed with the proceeds of the Bonds (the “Bond Funded District Improvements”), a portion of the District Improvements will be financed by advances from the Developer (the “Developer Funded Advances”), and a portion of the District Improvements will be financed by grants or other sources of capital as may be available from time to time …

    What the hell does that mean?
    The district exists only on a piece of paper.
    The district has no assets.
    The district has no revenue until actual taxpaying entities are built and then instead of paying the taxes to the city they are paid to the district.

    So who is going to guarantee the bonds? The district? Interest rates should be around 20% because they would pre-qualify as junk bonds.

  • Grin Reaper

    More BS.
    “a portion of the District Improvements will be financed by advances from the Developer (the “Developer Funded Advances”)”
    If this statement is indeed correct why isn’t there a specific dollar amount included in this agreement? Why does it not say the developer will finance the first $20 million?
    “will be financed by grants or other sources of capital as may be available from time to time.” That ladies and gentlemen is the state of CT and the city of Bridgeport.

  • Grin Reaper

    “Bridgeport Landing Development, LLC, a Florida limited liability company, or one or more of its permitted assignees or transferees (collectively, the “Developer”), intends to master develop a mixed-use development upon the District Property to be known as Steel Point Landing, also known as Steel Pointe Harbor Development or Steelpointe Harbor Development”
    Assignees or transferees??? Translated this mean Bridgeport Landing can and will sell this land and make a bundle as a reward for doing nothing for 20 years.

  • Jimfox

    This City should see a very small Tax Revenue in the year 2038. Maybe?

  • Grin Reaper

    “In exchange for the significant material benefits to be received and enjoyed by the City and its residents and the fiscal benefit anticipated to be received by the City as a result of the construction of the Development, including the District Improvements in accordance with the Development Agreement, and in consideration for the performance by the District of its obligations described in this Agreement, the City has agreed to direct the Tax Collector to transfer the Tax Increment Payments (as defined herein) from the Special District Fund (as defined herein) to the Trustee for payment to the District in accordance with this Agreement …”

    This means the city forgoes all taxes paid on Steel Point until the bonds are paid off. But John Stafstrom, Adam Wood and Ed Lavernoich will tell you with a straight face the city isn’t paying for the bonding. No, the taxpayers are. How much money does Mr. Stafstrom make on this deal? Maybe John Marchall Lee can answer that.

    1 percent would be 1.9 million dollars. 1.5 percent 2.8 million. No wonder he always has that shit-eating grin on his face.

    • John Marshall Lee

      Found a hot button Grin? Steel Point has you so excited you have five entries (with good questions). You want to look at the numbers, good. You will have to read the agreements too to get at the real numbers. What numbers will the CC see? And can you get a copy of same before a hearing happens, or a review of same by whatever committee is consulted, Contracts, B&A, Miscellaneous???

      About Stafstrom’s grin. Maybe he is just a happy guy and on top of the world. Maybe he had some cosmetic surgery that is pulling a little on the grin line. Or maybe he is just constipated and that grin is part of the strain trying to make things happen. If you see him, you can ask him.

      Why is Lavernoich still in the mix?

      It is likely you will find the legal expenses (or part of them anyway) covered in the Bond instruments at some point. Of course Stafstrom may also receive compensation routinely for his professional representation at Pension Board meetings and other activities on behalf of the City. You might find those through Freedom Of Information requests to Mark Anastasi. (That is neither a quick nor satisfying process.) Share the info when you learn it. Everyone needs to do the research. It is not easy lifting, but facts beat out untested assumptions, and if you have enough of them you can see the City story in an entirely different light than that projected from the Finch perch! Time will tell.

  • Bridgeport Now

    Right. I don’t know what this means: “Developer Funded Advances.” It doesn’t sound great.

  • Mojo

    *** One step closer followed by two steps “back to the future” of another major letdown. Not in this present city admin’s lifetime will East Siders see a Super Walmart or anything else for that matter! It’s going to take a Moses of his peeps type of miracle to really get things going, no? *** HERE WE GO! ***

  • Up On Bridgeport

    All I know is RCI et al. cut a deal for 50+ acres of land for 5 million dollars and only came up with a 1/2 million including a marina. No taxes paid and a money pit for Bridgeport. Don’t forget we gave $4.5 million to PYC to sail out of town!

  • Steven Auerbach

    I am very optimistic and hopeful. I cannot believe it would be a Walmart as Stafstom said it was an exciting retailer. Walmart does not equal exciting and way too close to other Walmarts. Plus if it were a Walmart, Bridgeport and Mayor Finch would be the laughing stock of the region. Let’s get this show on the road so eventually other projects can move ahead. Problem with article in the Post. Ed Lavernoich hasn’t worked for the City of Bridgeport for a while now and yet he was listed as the number two man after Adam Wood. When was this press release written??? Let’s ask Elaine Ficarra.

    • LennieGrimaldi

      Steve, Elaine did not issue a press release on this. She responded to a request by the Post for info. Tim Loh’s generally an accurate scribe but apparently did not know that Lavernoich left the city a few months ago. It also means the copy desk did not catch the mistake. Ed has agreed to stay on as a development board member because he cares about the city and has vast institutional knowledge.

  • Bob

    Lennie,
    Don’t hold your breath on Steel Pointe. The only people who will make money on this will be Stafstrom and the people who he or Mario will get to do the construction. Don’t forget Father Panik Village (FPV). It was also a pie-in-the sky project that was supposed to provide housing for low-income residents of Bridgeport. The rest is history.

  • Bridgeport Rising

    What exactly is an exciting retailer?

    Bass Pro Shop?

  • Local Eyes

    America’s largest employer qualifies as an exciting retailer.

  • yahooy

    Sorry, bullshitters. I do not buy it. You do not have to cater to the neighborhood when you have one of the most lucrative harbor side properties in the world available for development. Yes, the people who live near SteelPointe shop at Walmart. Big deal. I shop at Walmart.

    The most desperate slum I have ever seen is in Baltimore. Baltimore took property very similar to SteelPointe and turned it into a business center, a commerce center and a huge tourist attraction. Many of the people who live in that desperate slum work for employers located at HarborPointe.

    Our future is in the hands of Mario Testa and Paul Timpanelli with Stafstrom sticking his beak where it don’t belong.

    Happy, brain-dead Bridgeport registered non-voters?

  • Bridgeporteur

    Why is there a presumption we have to keep this developer and keep Stafstrom as bond council? Divide the land up and procure multiple developers. Get the DTC out of it totally, especially those making so much money out of it such as obscene Stafstrom.
    The same players who put businesses and residents out of their homes, took away harbor uses, blew hundreds of millions of dollars, were involved in kickbacks, made excessive profits on their fees and services, took away taxpayers, made an embarrassment out of Bridgeport, should be fired, period. Insanity is defined as persisting in the same behavior over and over and expecting different results.
    JML, who is paying for the upkeep of this property at present?

  • John Marshall Lee

    Earlier postings indicate title to the land is still in City hands, it seems. If that is confirmed then the City, probably through Public Facilities, is responsible for the upkeep or maintenance. That can be in the form of mowing, plowing, etc. It can also be in the form of interest on debt incurred to purchase properties if that was the avenue of acquisition. It may also be in the negative sense of paying where those taxpayers moved off the property have caused all other payers in the City to make up the difference by our payments and the high mil rate. Until we get our City Council persons to represent the people in a real sense, and look at the whole picture, rather than be rushed into last-minute or “emergency” votes to please the Mayor, will we have a chance at reversing the decades of poor decisions that leave us here at this moment. Time will tell.

  • countdown

    I’d like to see something like a Cabella’s or equivalent retailer–they are at the former Rentschler Field, much more diverse than REI; or something like the Shops at Evergreen near Windsor CT with LL Bean. We need a destination with diversity and class with lots of jobs. I’d really like to see a Dave ‘n Busters or ESPN Zone which would attract all ages up and down the I-95/MetroNorth Corridor; something that makes folks want to stop the car or return for a visit, get off the Ferry and Train and walk to the ‘Pointe.’ I will really go nuts if it turns out to be a Super-Walmart. The connections to the Downtown are also critical so all the new stuff downtown grows as the ‘Pointe’ grows.

    Have you heard about Chelsea Piers CT that is opening in three weeks in Stamford’s old Clairol property (half of it because the other half will be home to NBC Sports and NBC Olympics)? They are hiring now, big time; over 200 jobs; 22 minutes by train from Bridgeport train station–$3.30 train ride. I toured it last week; totally amazing 400,000 sq ft done by Spinnaker and partners (the same firm that is doing SONO in Norwalk and owns all of the former People’s United Bank property in downtown Bridgeport). Chelsea Piers CT (Exit 9 off I-95) will have everything that is at South Street Seaport in NYC except for the three floors of golf. Jobs, destination, low entry jobs as well as very skilled jobs such as coaches, docs to treat the injured on-site and a daycare center for 3-month-old babies and up. The former Clairol site is 30 acres. Steelpointe Harbor is 50 acres with lots of waterfront. Bridgeport deserves the best.

    This Interlocal Agreement is a critical piece to getting the millions of dollars in infrastructure done; remember under that dirt are the remains of the old UI generating plant (yucky dirt with all kinds of problems to clean up). The CDA bonds will be backed by the district which is backed by the development and retired through the incremental increase in real estate taxes. A very important positive step. Tax Increment financing has been done to get Antares/BLT to build in the South End of Stamford. It has been used in lots of urban deals. Once the buildings are up, the jobs will create the disposable income that Bridgeport desperately needs. Whether this is finally done by one or several developers within a master developer, or the extent of the infrastructure improvements could not be done without the real estate TIF or financing using the CT sales tax. I don’t think the sales tax financing mechanism survived the last legislative session. I for one am happy the Interlocal Agreement has finally made it to the City Council for review and action.

    Please remember, the City did not have total control/own the peninsula until 2007 (Fabrizi) so as far as I am concerned we are five years into the critical deal structuring and financing following the most difficult financial crisis this Country has experienced since the Depression. Things are looking up. I’m not sure I can make it back to Bridgeport in time for Thursday’s ECDC Committee to hear the specifics of the draft Interlocal but I encourage you to go and listen. Yes, the details are important, very important. But the fact there is an Interlocal before the City Council is a very good thing.

  • Mojo

    *** I’m hoping for a TACO BELL, no? *** FORGETABOUTIT ***

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