In the journalism engagement of my early 20s, 40 years ago, I wrote curiously for the Connecticut section of The New York Times, Bridgeport my main meanderings.
I pitched things to editors, via hardline phone, often offbeat: a beauty pageant in Bridgeport (no way); the feds tried to sting the police chief and it did not go well (I want it); the mayor’s wearing a bulletproof vest (get out of town!).
I was broke and needed the moolah, plus not a bad way to get your name out there. Conventional reporting would not cut a payday. They wanted something different. Good grief, it was annoying learning The Times writing style, a “Mr. Mrs. Ms.”, or whatever, fronting a second-reference name. I barely graduated high school, my comprehension fished in the shallows, and now I must absorb a stylistic handbook? Argh. Survival skills come in handy.
(Believe it or not, I also freelanced concurrently for the New York Post. I beg you to read The Times and Post on the same day and understand my schizophrenia.)
The city’s evolved from 40 years ago. Connecticut’s most populous city has undergone a transformation of sorts since that time, a tough old factory town rooted in Yankee ingenuity and immigrant brawn.
Generally, Bridgeport’s a place for outside reporters to regurgitate scribe laziness, often fanned by cynical, internal haters seeking power, pissed off because a city job rejected, horrified a development proposal flushed into the sewage treatment plant.
Many don’t put the work in to uncover the gleam among the gloom.
Lo and behold, now comes C.J. Hughes, who writes about real estate for The New York Times, recognizing a city rebounding, with evidence to back it up. Of course, then there’s this Ganim land baron nugget.
(Full disclosure: I may be violating The Times Fair Use policy, but worth the risk of litigation.)
Even gritty areas appear to be on the mend, although the process is happening in fits and starts. Apartments, breweries and antiques shops have popped up in some of the industrial hulks. Long-empty lots that resemble prairies are being eyed as sites for housing. And a two-year-old concert venue known as the Amp has added bounce to the city’s nightlife.
… In the last five years, more than 1,500 apartments have been completed, are under construction or planned, in new and converted buildings that are mostly downtown, according to the Bridgeport Building Department. A three-building complex next to Interstate 95, in a former gramophone record factory on Cherry Street and Howard Avenue that had been abandoned for decades, is completed and occupied, with 174 apartments, market-rate and affordable.
… At a 104-unit brick complex at Main and Golden Hill Streets, called 1188 Lofts, the lights are now on in what had been boarded-up windows. Market-rate studios there start at $1,630 a month, and one-bedrooms at $1,865.
“We’ve been sort of a diamond in the rough, but we’re getting discovered,” said John Guedes, the president of Primrose Companies, a developer about to cut a ribbon on a former Holiday Inn at 1070 Main Street going from 267 rooms to 94 apartments. Units will come furnished with the hotel’s furniture, and one-bedrooms will start at $2,500 a month.
Mr. Guedes is also constructing a 92-unit building at 1269 Main, a $22 million project, and is planning to add 112 units to an office building at 855 Main. “You can’t just have affordable housing in these downtowns,” he said, “because nobody will spend money at night and they will become ghost towns.”
… Boldly offbeat community radio station WPKN entertains at all hours, while Fairfield Avenue in Black Rock bustles at night. In January, Park City Music Hall hosted a Van Halen tribute band and an act called Beatniks Organ Trio. Total Mortgage Arena offers hockey games and concerts, and the Amp next door–officially, the Hartford HealthCare Amphitheater, a 5,700-seat conversion of a former baseball stadium–hosts bands.
Full story here.