May 30, 2008

Only one developer interested in failed mall site

Only one development group, the Jacksonville, FL-based Heritage Financial Group, submitted plans to the city Friday for the revitalization of the 17-acre downtown mall site.
The plan it submitted is skimpy but impressive, including a train station, a movie theater, an ESPN Zone and more. But all of it is merely conceptual and there is no indication whether it's possible or not.
As soon as I can, I will post a copy of the submission here so you all can read it.
I have so far been unable to reach the developer or its Los Angeles-based liason to the project, a nice young fellow named Jaime Parker whom I met briefly a few months ago.
Keep watching. There's much more to come.

Update at 4:40 - Click here for 14-page PDF of the mall site plan submitted Friday by the L.A.-based Cielo Real Estate Investment Group, working for Heritage Financial Group of Florida, the developer

Update at 4:50 pm. - The plan I just uploaded for your reading pleasure (?) doesn't show the site very well, but if you look at the last page, I'll try to tell you what's important:
1. The site includes 68.400-square-feet of retail and office space, plus
2. It includes 66,000-square-feet of professional office space, plus
3. Multi-family units total 320, plus
4. There are 1,460 parking spaces, including a parking garage where the grocery store is now, pus
5. A new train station just west of the existing bridge over Main Street, plus
6. An ampitheater across the street from Brackett Park, plus
7. A "cascading stream" and water features, including someplace for kids to play, between the train station and the ampitheater, plus
8. A bell tower with chimes, plus
9. An ice rink (yes, Rick Krizcenski, it hasn't been forgotten!), plus
10. A rooftop pool with a putting green, plus
11. A grocery store, a movie theater, and a host of restaurants (including ESPN Zone, Olive Garden, Quiznos, McDonalds, Dunkin' Donuts, Maggianos Little Italy and more), retailers that include GAP, Ann Taylor, and Abercrombie & Fitch.
There's more, but it's all just conceptual. There's nothing to indicate any of the stores have promised to come and plenty of reason for skepticism about many of them. ESPN, for example, has already said it doesn't have any intention of putting an ESPN Zone restaurant in Bristol.

Update at 5 - Mayor Art Ward said he's anxious to review the plan and "looking forward to future development."
I should add that the plan I uploaded is the entire thing minus one or two pages at the end that city officials said contained confidential financial information. I've already registered my protest over that decision given that any privileged financial information was specifically supposed to be put in a separate, sealed envelope. I don't think it should be held back.
The secret pages contain Appendix D, "Acquisition Terms & Conditions - Letters of Intent"
I know from eyeballing the thing that it was no more than a couple of pages, but what they said, I have no idea. Hopefully, someone who has a copy will let me know soon. In any case, I'll be trying to get one somehow as quickly as possible.

Update at 5:10 - There's not even an answering machine at the offices of Heritage Financial Services. The phone just rings and rings and rings.
Plus, if you Google the name, you'll find almost nothing. Heck, I can Google my brother's dog and find more information than that.
I'm still hoping to talk to Jaime Parker. We'll see.

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at


Anonymous said...

We've gone through all this crap for years to get... this? I'm sickened.

Anonymous said...

What a load of crap, there is no way even 1/10 of all that stuff in the design would ever happen.

Anonymous said...

First glimpse: totally unrealistic.

Anonymous said...

sounds better than what we had if only half happens

Anonymous said...

Wonder why no local developers submitted proposals, Carpenter, D"amato, as well as no Conn developers.

Should tell us something.

Anonymous said...

Uh Oh!

Anonymous said...

One quality developer is all we need.

Those of you who prefer an empty 17acre lot so you can say, "I told you so" for the next decade may be disappointed, but I think its a great start in a new direction.

Let's hope DEPOT SQUARE stays on track.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Steve, for putting the proposal online for us to read. I'm impressed with the style and like the concept, but, really, it does seem like a bunch of hooey. Is there any reason to think any of these people are legit?

Anonymous said...

What happened to all the names that Rosenthal had?

Did he turn them over to the BDDC?
Or Purchasing?

Anonymous said...

Stick with the basics and the rest willfal in place.

Anonymous said...

I am of the opinion that he state will not go along with a good portion of this.

john cullen said...

"We invite you to review our proposal and realize our shared dream of transforming Bristol into a true Destination Location. A thriving city sought after by families, couples, teens and singles as Bristol will now have more to offer than any other city or town within Hartford County."

Looks pretty good, but they must have held back on telling us about the Playboy mansion, the new municipal offices and Mayor’s mansion, the Centre Mall museum and the bank that will be giving out money so we can truly “realize our shared dream.”

And put your diapers on before reading this one … they’re going to be putting up a giant replica of the Gateway Arch! (With a 631’ span and height of course!). And just to get everyone really hootin’, here are some quick facts about the “old” arch courtesy of its web site.
• The Arch is the tallest national monument in the United States at 630 feet; it is the city's best known landmark and a popular tourist attraction.
• Construction began February 12, 1963 and the last section of the Arch was put into place on October 28, 1965.
• The Arch is a structure known as a catenary curve, the shape a free-hanging chain takes when held at both ends, and considered the most structurally-sound arch shape. The span of the Arch legs at ground level is 630 feet, the same as its height.
• Each year, approximately a million visitors ride the trams to the top of the Arch. The trams have been in operation for over 30 years, traveling a total of 250,000 miles and carrying over 25 million passengers.
• The Arch weighs 17,246 tons. Nine hundred tons of stainless steel was used to build the Arch, more than any other project in history.
• The Arch was built at a cost of $13 million. The transportation system was built at a cost of $3,500,000.
• In order to ensure that the constructed legs would meet, the margin of error for failure was 1/64th of an inch. All survey work was done at night to eliminate distortion caused by the sun's rays. Since the Arch was constructed before the advent of computer technology, relatively crude instruments were used for these measurements.
• The Arch sways a maximum of 18" (9" each way) in a 150 mph wind. The usual sway is 1/2".
They are a bit worried about that 1/64” tolerance but hope they can get some of the contractors who have been doing all the fine work for UCONN to take on the project.

Yep, that’s about 2,700 people a day you can expect will visit, 365 days a year (sounds like they’ll need new doormats at the Clock and Watch Museum on a regular basis too if just a fraction of them show up there!). And they are not allowed to use the magic bank – just Bristolites. So even if it costs a billion bucks, at $10 a pop for a ride up the arch to see Federal Hill and Muzzy field and the Hoppers (David Blaine would be hired to create an illusion that the sewage treatment plant was a quarry lake, Route 6 was a pine forest, etc.) it would only take 100 years to pay off – and then it’s gravy time!

Think Yarde Metals should get a piece of that stainless contract or should we have Mr. Rosenthal look into a municipal steel enterprise? My mind is racing in all kinds of directions – no doubt I’m not alone. Can’t wait to find out who these guys are, and which “America’s Most Wanted” list they belong on – the good one or the bad one. Hope someone can find them…

And oh, I almost forgot, which figures since I'm on the wrong side of 50 – what are they going to do for us old folks to make it a “sought after city” for our kind too?

john cullen

Steve Collins said...

That's funny, John. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Gee, it sounds like the Kosta proposal that he was castigated for and Couture lost the election is looking good afterall. Too bad they were both thrown out with the bathwater.

Good vision, voters.

Anonymous said...

Interesting to read the plan. I appreciate that you posted it.

Anonymous said...

Didn't this company oversee the recent sale of the Brooklyn Bridge?

Anonymous said...

This plan is great! Further proof that the Mayor is moving Bristol forward.

Anonymous said...

Was ANY feedback received from the other developers who had contacted the city over the past few years?

If this developer isn't truly qualified and bringing the funds to the table then perhaps we should revisit this site as a location for a new school instead of the Scalia site.

Anonymous said...

What happened to the 5 developers Ward whined about on the council? Now that he is in charge one 1 came forward?

Anonymous said...

How much is the developer going to pay? How much is the state going to pay? How much will our mill rate rise when we have to pay?

Perhaps its in those missing pages.

How much of this scheme is going to depend on "the support of others from out of town" commuting to it?

Given that we're entering a period of rising energy costs [gas prices projected to rise from $5 to 8 dollars a gallon soon (that is what the europeans are currently paying)], if cheap transportation is the linchpin for the financial success of this proposal, what are they going to do when the cheap gas disappears and people fail to flock to this "destination location" because they can't fill their tanks.

Nice to PLAN for a train station, but where are those commuter trains I'd like to see the schedule?

Anonymous said...

I almost choked on my coffee as I read this morning's Press. A roof top pool and a putting green? Let's get a little more on target - Bristol has 2 new schools in the plans that haven't even begun to be built.

I know of folks who won't go to anything past the overpass on upper Main Street, including the new and beautiful library, due to the questionable activity beyond that point.

What are people "smoking" that are on the overall Bristol development team?

Anonymous said...

No one will ever come to this city to spend money. This town is dead, dead, dead! Give "Grandpa Woodstock" an acre and let him entertain the masses. This downtown plan is dead on arrival.

Anonymous said...

Ward had best get his people under control.

Where do these people come up with these ideas?

Did Russos specs lead to this fiasco?

Anonymous said...

Steve, what is your brother's dog's name?