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State Gives Front Street Developer More Time

July 15, 2006
By JEFFREY B. COHEN, Courant Staff Writer

While voicing concern that the long-delayed downtown development at Front Street in Hartford is missing deadlines, the state agency that oversees the project gave the developer an additional two months Friday to complete the next phase of the operation: a promise of money from the city.

In February, the state's Capital City Economic Development Authority signed an agreement with Greenwich developer Bradley Nitkin that allows for a phased development of the retail, residential and entertainment district. The project aims to link Adriaen's Landing with the rest of downtown.

As part of that deal, the state pledged $33 million to the project, and gave Nitkin120 days to get a city commitment for roughly $16 million in cash and tax abatements.

But progress stalled as Niktin and the state considered overtures by an unnamed party that was interested in the property, state officials said at a meeting Friday morning. "In the end, it did not work out, so now we are refocused back on the original scope," said Michael Cicchetti, spokesman for the authority.

Nitkin and the city have talked about funding, but have not come to terms.

In May, the city responded to Nitkin's phased development approach by saying that if he wants the entire $16 million the city has available for Front Street, he'll have to commit to the entire project. Nitkin has yet to respond.

The board decided to give Nitkin until July 31 to answer the city's concerns, and until Sept. 8 to reach an agreement with the city.

But board Chairman Bill McCue told other members of the state panel that even after Nitkin and the city come to terms, there will still be several steps before construction begins.

"I don't want you coming around Sept. 9 looking for a backhoe starting to dig a hole," McCue said. "That isn't going to happen. This process will continue to move on."

Nitkin's office declined to comment.

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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