Whether for his bosses, colleagues or adversaries, Chuck Sheehan
loves to give people nicknames. Sometimes they are bestowed with
affection. Other times they are not. But always they reveal something
integral about the person, in turn revealing something about the
namer: Chuck Sheehan knows people as well as construction.
As the former executive director of the Capital City Economic Development
Authority, Sheehan was the state official most directly in charge
of the $271 million Connecticut Convention Center project during
much of its construction. And although he began a new job as manager
of the Metropolitan District Commission this spring, Sheehan says
he remains deeply proud of how the convention center and other state
development projects are changing Hartford.
"It's not ego-driven," said Sheehan, 56. "It's
a chance to basically change history through the practice of your
profession of construction manager. And I feel quite honestly that
it's the major accomplishments - like Rentschler Field, like the
convention center, like Capital Community College - that achieve
those kinds of goals."
Sheehan has lived almost all of his life in East Hartford, although
he recently moved west of the river. He knows what's at stake in
the state's efforts to revive the capital city.
During the first three of his five years working on the state's
development projects in Hartford, Sheehan worked for the development
authority's first executive director, Brendan Fox, a lawyer. While
the formal Fox and the jocular Sheehan could hardly have more dissimilar
personalities, they were a good team - Fox contributed the in-the-office
expertise, while Sheehan's background as an engineer meant he knew
his way around a construction site.
Sheehan took the top post at the
development authority in 2003, just as construction of the convention
center was moving into its most active phase. He was at the helm
for one major disappointment, the state's falling-out with Richard
Cohen, the developer who was supposed to build the "Front Street" district
of shops, restaurants and apartments adjacent to the convention
But most of the state's development program, including the reconstruction
of the Hartford Civic Center, made great progress under Sheehan's
watch. Annette Sanderson has replaced Sheehan as the authority's
acting executive director.
"I have a tremendous sense of accomplishment," Sheehan
said recently. "We did exactly what we committed to do."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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