Also Announced Is A Major Additional Lease By CREC
August 20, 2010
As momentum builds for designating the former Colt factory in Hartford a national park, the long-awaited redevelopment of the sprawling complex known for its blue-onion dome is getting another boost: a new developer and a major commercial lease.
Hartford-based CG Management Co. this week took over as developer of the Colt Gateway redevelopment project, and announced Friday that the Capitol Region Education Council has leased an additional 50,000 square feet in the complex.
CREC will use the space — split between the "sawtooth" building and the South Armory — for a magnet school, part of its Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts. CREC has been a tenant at Colt for eight years.
Work is expected to begin on the space in the next few weeks. While costs are still being worked out it is estimated the investment will be in the millions, according to Lawrence P. Dooley, principal of CG Management.
"We haven't had that kind of construction on this campus since the beginning of 2007," Dooley said.
While Dooley is taking over as developer, he isn't new to the project. For three years, he has managed the project on-site in Hartford through two previous developers. Most recently, Dooley managed the Colt project for Los Angeles-based Urban Smart Growth and its owner, Lance Robbins.
"All the way around, it was just determined that it was better to have local control of the project," Dooley said. "This was the best route for all parties." Robbins couldn't be reached for comment Friday.
While there hasn't been construction under Robbins' tenure as developer, key progress was made on a tangle of liens, debt and other financing snags, said David B. Panagore, chief operating officer for the city of Hartford.
"It is in much better shape to move forward than it was a year ago," Panagore said.
The challenge for the project is its massive scope and trying to build momentum in an economy that is struggling to regain its footings. But according to Panagore, a major corporate equity partner, Chevron, has recommitted to the project. One estimate put the cost for the entire project at $120 million.
The mixed-use redevelopment ran into serious trouble three years ago when Homes for America Holdings Inc., which had initially shown much promise, ran out of money.
Panagore said it is not unusual to have a couple of developers on a major project.
"They inherit the good work of their predecessor and move forward," he said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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