Developers Had Proposed Factory Outlet On 40-Acre Site In City's North Meadows
By JEFFREY B. COHEN, Courant Staff Writer
November 08, 2007
Plan A was to bring big-box stores to Hartford's North Meadows, but that fell through.
Then came Plan B - a factory outlet mall.
Now, that plan is dead, too, and Plan C doesn't seem to be in the making.
Two months after they told the city they wanted to build the Hartford Crossing Factory Outlet Center on a 40-acre site just off I-91, the developers have abandoned the idea and are moving on.
"Two months ago, they came with their core team, they talked to us about everything they were hoping to do, how that model could absolutely work," said John F. Palmieri, the city's director of development services. "We were all led to believe that they had an exciting new approach."
Although Palmieri doesn't know the specifics of why the project failed, he has his guesses.
"They must have learned between their very positive presentation two months ago and these last few weeks that it would be a hard thing to do," Palmieri said. "Getting the national ... tenants to put a stake down is not easy."
The site in question is made up of three parcels in an old industrial area dominated by car dealerships: the former home of direct-mail marketing company Advo Inc., the site of the commercial truck company Edart Leasing Co. LLC, and a roughly 10-acre vacant parcel between those two.
Edart wanted a new corporate headquarters, and had its eye on about 12 acres of city-owned land on New Road near the Connecticut Expo Center. But before the city would sell Edart the property, the company and Winstanley Enterprises LLC - Edart's development partner - had to prove there was a viable retail plan for the site it is leaving behind.
Original retail plans were announced almost two years ago, and the developers worked for many months to secure an "anchor" tenant. But the developer, Adam Winstanley, said those deals never sealed because retailers were reluctant to invest in the North Meadows.
Efforts to reach Winstanley - whose company turned the old Hastings Hotel into the new Hartford headquarters of the Connecticut Culinary Institute - Wednesday were unsuccessful.
Coleman Levy, Edart's attorney, said the problem was lining up retail tenants.
"Retailers have been a little less than totally enthusiastic at this time," said Levy, who added that the joint venture between the two companies had spent $500,000 on the failed plan. "The risk was too great at this particular time. ... Everybody is disappointed."
Levy said that the city has some issues to contend with if it wants to develop the North Meadows. Those issues included the neighborhood's inaccessibility, its proximity to the landfill across the highway, and the growing number of adult entertainment stores in the area.
"Those are areas that are going to have to be addressed by the city in terms of the development of the North Meadows, whether it's this retail or any other," Levy said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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