West End Revitalization Project Begins

Cherry Street Lofts
Mayor Joe Ganim is joined by development officials at groundbreaking. CT Post photo Brian Pounds.

A complex $120 million finance package now in place, city and state officials on Tuesday joined Mayor Joe Ganim and developer Gary Flocco at a groundbreaking for the first phase of the Cherry Street Lofts, a mixed-use project in the West End bordered by Cherry Street, Hancock Avenue, Railroad Avenue and Howard Avenue consisting of eight buildings two of which will be demolished due to structural deterioration.

Cherry Street rendering
Rendering of project.

The six remaining buildings, according to the developer, total roughly 460,000 square feet and have been approved for 311 residential units and the Great Oaks Charter School. The school is expected to be completed by fall of 2018.

CT Post reporter Keila Torres Ocasio has more:

“I have to pinch myself,” said Gary Flocco, head of developer Corvus Capital. “Over the last three years, it’s been about solving problems. Now it’s coming to fruition.”

… While some of the apartments will rent at market rates, 80 percent, or 126 units, will be set aside for those making no more than 60 percent of the area median income. Some units will also be set aside for tutors at the school.

The second phase would rehabilitate the oldest buildings on the block bounded by Cherry Street and Railroad, Hancock and Howard avenues into a mix of housing and retail. A grocery store is also part of the plan.

Mayor Joe Ganim noted this is the first major development project launched since he returned to office in 2015. He said he has been waiting decades to see progress on transforming the factory buildings into something Bridgeport can be proud of, especially considering their derelict state leaves drivers on Interstate 95 with a negative impression of the city.

Full story here.

Cherry Street apartment rendering
Rendering of apartment.

Additional info from developer:

A facelift has begun on Bridgeport’s most visible, dilapidated industrial site. Bridgeport Mayor Joseph P. Ganim and state officials broke ground yesterday on the first phase of the Cherry Street Lofts redevelopment project. The project includes 157 new residential apartments at the West End site along I-95. The Mayor was joined by community members, union officials, government representatives, bankers, and investors.

“When you’re coming in on I-95, or on the train, this area is the visual gateway into Bridgeport. It leaves a lasting impression. This is the most significant project that we’ve seen since I’ve been reelected and I’m honored to be a part of it. Let’s get it going!” Ganim remarked.

Officials say it will be between 18-24 months before the first apartment is available. The first phase involves cleanup and adaptive reuse of the former factory. Developer, Gary Flocco of Railroad Avenue Lofts LLC said, “We are creating 250 jobs and building a school that will provide a first-class education to our children which will ensure our future. I am thankful to our partners and the Bridgeport community for their continued support.”

In addition to 157 residential units, the development will consist of a community facility, a gym, and 40,000 sq. ft. of outdoor recreational space.

In all, the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust (HIT) is investing $35 million to renovate the historic buildings into multifamily rental units, helping to transform the Bridgeport neighborhood–a transformative project located adjacent to the Amtrak/Metro North rail line and I-95.

Andrew Nolen Pfeifer, Investment Officer for the HIT said, “We are pleased that our first investment in Connecticut will provide affordable housing opportunities to working families in Bridgeport.”

The HIT is purchasing bonds issued by the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA) for the $54.4 million adaptive rehabilitation of two historic buildings into 157 apartments. Eighty percent of the units, or 126 apartments, will be affordable to residents making no more than 60% of area median income (AMI).

The first multi-family new construction in the area in over a decade, it will be built with 100% union labor. The project is expected to create approximately 235 jobs for members of the local building and construction trades council.

Peter Carroll, President of the Fairfield County Building and Construction Trades Council said, “We appreciate HIT’s commitment to and support of union construction and recognize the benefits this work can provide to the workers and the community.”

This transaction came to fruition after several years of close coordination between HIT, CHFA, the City of Bridgeport, and the Fairfield County Building Trades, as well as the development team of Corvus Capital Partners, LLC and The Pacific Companies, the general contractor Construction Resources, Inc. (CORE), and tax credit syndicator City Real Estate Advisors (CREA).

The historic structures were originally built as a factory for the American Graphophone Company in the late 1800s. In the last 30-plus years, the area became vacant and blighted. The neighborhood, which was previously an industrial area, has seen recent improvements as part of the first phase of the city’s Neighborhood Revitalization Zone Plan: West Side/West End. It is now home to more diverse businesses, including retail, light manufacturing, and antique centers, as well as two new schools and a police station.

“The Cherry Street Lofts and its spark of new economic activity will create new affordable housing, support revitalization of the City’s West End Neighborhood and is a very visible investment in one of the gateways to Bridgeport,” said Karl Kilduff, Executive Director of the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority.

The site is also located within the boundaries of the newly created Bridgeport Eco-Technology Park in the city’s West and South Ends.

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13 comments

  1. INDEED. Finally some great news for the West End. What I don’t understand is we are breaking ground on a $120 million redevelopment project but yet Ganim is saying Nothing and Tom Gill of OPED is trying to facilitate bringing O&G’s poison piles from Seaview Avenue to Howard Avenue,a few blocks away from this $120 million project. Something is wrong with this scenario.

    1. BTW, this is ANOTHER project that was started in the Finch Administration. Ganim taking responsibility for this project is galling. Mayor Ganim, if you really want to show some leadership, please make a statement that you oppose O&G bringing their poison piles to Howard Ave, a few blocks away from the Cherry St. project. We need that statement prior to the P&Z meeting on February 24th when O&G will be seeking approval for the move to Howard Ave.

  2. This was a great initiative that had the big bells and whistles press conference when Finch was still in office. He can look back with pride on what he has done for Bridgeport. Hopefully, this project will stimulate other developments that Ganim can be proud of.

    This will be great for the city and the West End. The visibility from I-95 will send a message, hopefully positive like Steelpointe. Now that most of the residual Finch initiatives are underway, it will be exciting to see what great initiatives the Ganim administration will bring to fruition. I am hopeful. I know Ganim must be proud but uncomfortable knowing these grounbreakings are not counted as his successes.

    I do believe he will do his best to attract signature developments that will have his mark on them. Hopefully, it will not say “Trump.” 🙂 The Clinton Crossing apts by the proposed train station and Barnum School look spectacular.

  3. Off subject. Looks like the two-year circus concerning the liquor zoning change has been deferred again by Attorney Chuck Willinger and his client Michael DeFillipo, who happens to be associated with Mario Testa. There are a number of postings on OIB about this mess. Next P&Z for DeFillipo will be in March.

  4. Here’s another off-topic, but ‘Judge rules cop ineligible for promotion’ from the CT Post.
    Another win for Tom Bucci and another loss for David Dunn.
    Seems Dunn can’t count and politically connected Cotto is not qualified.
    Oh well, back to the drawing boards.

  5. Bob, Mackey and I have been saying for over seven years Dunn isn’t qualified for the Director of Civil Service he was given by Finch and he currently occupies thanks to Ganim. Give an exam and bring in a qualified Director and remove political patronage out of the Civil Service office.

  6. I noticed not once was this project referred to as economic development. It isn’t. It is government-subsidized rental housing. No mention of the complex being added to the city tax rolls. A charter school uses taxpayer funding. Taxpayers may be better off if their money were spent removing the eyesore buildings and making the property development-ready.

  7. I’ve made up my mind. Charter Schools are not good nor right for Bridgeport. Charter schools can go Fairfield down the coast. Surprise … these communities don’t want or need charter schools. Suburban schools are state of the art.

  8. *** Trump the Anti-Christ is the new savior of the silent white right-wing majority that wanted a white man, not a woman, back in the W/H. They also want the federal government run more like Big business, along with better homeland security and a tighter U.S. border! Terrorist violence is spreading all over the world and Americans want to feel safe here at home. However Trump’s first 100 days should tell America and the world if he and his admin are going to sink or swim. ‘Til then it’s hold on to your hats, seats and wallets and be prepared for a future possible purge! And “God Bless America!” ***

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