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Front Street Plan Advances

February 17, 2006
By JEFFREY B. COHEN, Courant Staff Writer

With the signing Friday of an agreement between the state and a developer for the Front Street retail and residential district in downtown Hartford, the attention now turns to discussions about funding between the developer and the city, officials said.

In the agreement, the state's Capital city Economic Development Authority and developer HB Nitkin Group took the next step in a deal that could bring 200 residential units and 100,000 square feet of retail to Adriaen's Landing.

As part of the deal, the state agreed to $11.5 million in rental housing assistance, $6 million in retail assistance, and about $16 million in improvements to the site, including a new parking garage.

Should Nitkin succeed in converting the project to condominiums, the state will not be obligated to the funding terms set out in the agreement - a mechanism officials said is designed to avoid a massive windfall to the developer.

Nitkin and the city have up to 120 days to negotiate a funding deal between them. The agreement anticipates $7 million in federal funding to be approved by the city, in addition to a tax abatement agreement - both of which are considered key elements of the project.

But Matt Hennessy, chief of staff to Mayor Eddie A. Perez, said the city has received the agreement but does not feel bound by its expectations or its timeline.

"Anticipating a certain [dollar] number or trying to put a 120-day deadline or something, that just doesn't fly," Hennessy said, stressing the city has a public process to follow.

"It's taken the state many years to get its point, so the fact that they'd throw around a 120-day deadline without consulting us, or showing us financial information, is really neither here nor there for us."

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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