A public hearing will take place Monday night featuring a tax abatement for the next phase of the Steelpointe Harbor redevelopment area, a $100 million project that includes 400 units of market rate housing, hotel and retail as well as more than $2 million in building fees due at the start of construction along East Main Street and Stratford Avenue.
Under the terms of the agreement, the developer will pay taxes on the cost of the land for three years annually, $23,900, during the construction and occupancy phase. Tax payments will increase to $1.26 million in 2025, rising by two percent each year, reaching $1.47 million in the final year of the abatement. Full standard taxation will then commence.
This phase is considered the linchpin of the harbor redevelopment that features Bass Pro Shops, the Hornblower Group, North Sails, Bridgeport Boatworks, full-service marina, Boca Oysters Bar, Starbucks, Chipotle, T-mobile, and associated construction jobs.
The project is owned and operated by Bridgeport Landing Development led by Robert Christoph Jr. and his father who’ve managed waterfront real estate developments along the East Coast and Caribbean.
Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase were among investors participating in a recent sale of $48 million worth of revenue bonds to provide the resources to start building the towers and hotel, expected to commence spring 2022, upon approval of the tax abatement.
“We look forward to the next couple of years as vertical construction continues, new businesses and new jobs are created, and the hotel and housing towers begin to welcome visitors and residents to a new live, work and play Connecticut waterfront neighborhood,” says Christoph Jr.
While this current construction phase attracts market rate housing with views of Long Island Sound, the Christophs have partnered with Bridgeport Neighborhood Together to create 45 workforce housing units toward the required 10 percent allotment of what is being built on the 44-acre redevelopment area that once housed a power plant cutting off water access.
Another 44 units proposed on East Main Street, they say, have been submitted for approval.
The Christophs have also partnered with Bridgeport-based, minority-owned Ashlar Construction for the mixed-use development in the East End that includes a grocery store in the food desert neighborhood.
The Christophs have gradually transformed the area into a top 10 taxpayer, according to a review of city tax assessment records.
It’s been a long time coming powering through cynics but the vision of transforming a troubled area is now coalescing. The redevelopment was first proposed in 1983 under the administration of Republican Mayor Lenny Paoletta. Nothing much happened on the site for more than a decade. In the mid 1990s under the first mayoral tenure of Joe Ganim, eminent domain initiatives and parcel purchases started the process for site clearance. The Christophs arrived on the scene as developers about 20 years ago. Over the ensuing years the city and developer worked through land disposition agreements that set forth parcel acquisitions, site clearance, remediation, bulkhead work and development timetable. The national economy tanked in 2008, once again slowing progress.
After decades of starts and stops, doubters abounded. City, state and federal officials announced millions in grants for infrastructure improvements. A major breakthrough came in the summer of 2012 when the mayoral administration of Bill Finch announced the site had hooked Bass Pro Shops, the mega outdoor retailer, for its first urban store featuring a marine theme. It opened in November 2015.
The past few years, a public boardwalk, restaurant and full-service 220-slip marina hosting annual yacht shows bolstered a brighter face to the waterfront. In addition, the Christophs recruited key ancillary components to Bridgeport’s waterfront such as Bridgeport Boatworks, Hornblower Group and North Sails that include refurbishing yachts and maintaining ferries serving New York Harbor
Following the public hearing Monday night, a joint council committee is expected to take up the matter December 29. If the tax abatement is approved, it will go to the full council for ratification in January.
What happens if the council does not pass the tax abatement? This housing and hotel phase will not commence, say supporters of the plan, because the economics don’t work without it.
See council agenda here.
This meeting will be conducted by Teleconference at 7 p.m.
The public may listen by calling the following conference line and then
entering the conference code:
Dial-In Number: (929) 436-2866
Meeting ID: 381 083 245