January 1, 2007
By MATTHEW L. BROWN, Hartford Business Journal Writer
The owner of a prominent downtown building that he says doesn’t have enough parking to accommodate more tenants is worried that the Capital City Economic Development Authority isn’t forking over the money for his ambitious parking plan quickly enough.
CCEDA only has three parking projects in the works, and Michael Grunberg, principal with New York-based Grunberg Realty, is worried that CCEDA has been “dragging its feet” on his application for a massive underground parking facility at the Bank of America building at 777 Main St.
But according to CCEDA, it doesn’t matter how many applications the authority has to consider, most of its parking money has been spoken for. And most of it is going toward the Front Street project being developed by Grunberg’s friend, Bradley Nitkin of the HB Nitkin Group of Greenwich.
“We’ve got about $7.8 million left in parking money, a good portion of which we’ve already dedicated to the Front Street site, and Front Street is our project,” explained Michael Cicchetti, a CCEDA spokesman.
Apart from Front Street, CCEDA has also approved an additional $750,000 in parking construction money for the Temple Street redevelopment project, which is also overseen by the authority itself.
CCEDA has had one other project “express interest” but not apply for CCEDA parking money, Cicchetti said.
Last in line is Grunberg’s application for $3.8 million, the most CCEDA said it could possibly give him, towards a new $10 million, 500-car, parking garage.
The new garage would be built beneath the building’s 200-car, above-ground garage, which is nearly full, even though the 360,000 square foot building is less than 60 percent occupied.
Without the money, Grunberg said it wouldn’t be economical to build the new garage.
Altogether, CCEDA is funding $22 million of the $55 million Front Street project. The city is pitching in another $7 million.
Nitkin plans to build 115 units of housing and 60,000 square feet of retail space there.
Grunberg bought the Bank of America building last March. He paid $13 million for the 26-story, nearly 40-year-old building.
Grunberg wants to consolidate Bank of America, which has employees scattered throughout the building, and build condominiums in the building’s upper floors.
The lack of parking at the building hampers Grunberg’s condo plans, as well as the bank’s ability to expand should the need arise.
Cicchetti said the authority isn’t dragging its feet, but a project the size of Grunberg’s must be considered carefully.
“He’s looking for a good chunk of money,” Cicchetti said, “and I think the commission has to make that decision.”
Grunberg also owns 280 Trumbull St., a downtown office tower for which there is also insufficient parking, he said.