Riverfront Recapture Parties In Nearly Finished Building
April 17, 2005
By JEFFREY B. COHEN, Courant Staff Writer
More than 700 people
showed up to celebrate the annual Riverfront Recapture fundraiser
and got a "sneak peek" at the convention center Saturday
night, paying to be among the first to mingle in the heart of
the state's Adriaen's Landing downtown development project.
The Big Mo' is an annual fundraiser that celebrates the region's
progress. Now in its sixth year, the event is traditionally hosted
at a site of construction or renovation. Saturday was the public
debut for the $230 million, 1.6 million-square-foot convention
facility that is one of a series of projects aimed at bringing
new life to the city. Those attending paid either $150 or $250
per person for tours, views of the river, food and drink.
Guests taking tours met the facility's executive chef, who showed
them industrial-size cookware, soup vats and unopened boxes of
flatware that will first be put to use May 31 at a banquet for
Then, after a walk through the service areas, the tours progressed
to the 40,000-square-foot ballroom that can fit up to 2,300 people
for dinner. They then passed a mezzanine with a view of what
will one day be the Connecticut Center for Science and Exploration.
Next came a view of the new
Marriott Hotel and a look at the unfinished "retail and residential" space
formerly known as Front Street. Finally, after tours of two
boardrooms, guests made it to the cocktail hour.
But not everything was completed Saturday. Carpet fuzz stuck
to shoes, some escalators were not ready to escalate and much
was still a work in progress.
"This is nuts!" said Ben Seidel, executive director
of the center. "It's like opening a store to customers before
the store is ready to be opened."
But guests seemed to enjoy themselves, Seidel said.
"Any questions?" he
asked a group.
"Wow," said one
woman as others exhaled.
"Is this the largest in the United States?" asked
"No," Seidel answered. "But
it isn't supposed to be."
Later, as guests mingled to the sounds of bagpipes and quiet
jazz - some in festive attire and a few in hard hats - they relaxed.
"The convention center and hotel are a magical first step," said
Don Wilson of Riverfront Recapture's board. "And I love
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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