I'll update this through the day as I hear from people who are willing to talk about their initial thoughts on the proposal the Bristol Downtown Development Corp. received on Friday. Any candidates, business leaders or government officials who want to weigh in -- on the record -- should freel free to write me at email@example.com or give me a call.
State Sen. Tom Colapietro, a Bristol Democrat who represents the 31st District:
To tell you the truth it was a great sounding sales pitch but you know that old saying if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is . All I am doing is hoping for the best.
Christopher Wright, a Bristol Democrat who is running for the state House seat in the 77th District:
Looking at the Depot Square proposal, it seems to include just about everything the city was looking for. It appears to have a nice mix of commertial, retail, residential and entertainment venues, even an amphitheatre. The question is, how feasable is the project? Have any of the stores or restaurants mentioned in the proposal shone any interest yet? What we need is a complex which will be around for the next 50 years and not burn out in the next 5. After all, this is the heart of our city that we're talking about. Now that the BDDC has a proposal in hand, let them investigate it and come back with a recomendation.
Derek Jerome, a Republican running for the state House in the 79th District:
At first glance it appears to be something like a proposal I saw a few years ago when Gatto still owned the mall. The concept is a good one except for actually getting the retailers noted. Remember the big ESPN project that was supposed to be the big draw? Although Bristol in their home, there wasn't enough interest in a Manhattan style ESPN Zone.
I have been asked why "they" don't put a Christmas Tree Shops or similar draw store on the site. The truth is, if the customer base isn't there "they" won't come. We, as a city, need to have the infrastructure in place in order to bring something like this to reality.
Blue Back Square in West Hartford is a prime example. West Hartford already had highway access, a pedestrian friendly downtown shopping center and ample parking (in existence for as long as I can remember) as well as the customer base with disposable income to spend. Unfortunately none of these exist in abundance in Bristol.
We all seem to develop amnesia about past mistakes when it comes to new development. We all just recently saw a prior generations idea of "Downtown Revitalization" demolished. If this is to come to reality, and the retailers are really behind it, I hope we all support them with our business so we are not having this same discussion in 20 years.
City Councilor Craig Minor, a Democrat:
The architectural rendering shows literally everything that we wanted to see, including the through street from Laurel to Main that I was pushing for. The question, however, is whether the applicant has the financial ability to execute it. The BDDC has excellent legal counsel and a top-notch economic development expert advising them, so I am confident that they will make the right decision as to what to do with the proposal.
City Councilor Ken Cockayne, a Republican:
As far as the plan itself, on paper and in theory it looks great. Now we must do our homework and see if the funds are there to actually do what is presented. The last thing we want is another investor like the last one who owned the mall, coming in with big ideas and doing nothing. If everything checks out and this is a proposal that can be done I will support it. I will not however support a proposal just because it’s the only one we’ve gotten it. I’m also a bit worried that we only received one proposal. For the past couple years all I’ve heard were the list of people interested in this property. What happened to those people?
Jill Fitzgerald, GOP candidate in the 77th state House district:
The proposal given to the BDDC was interesting. It has many similarities to the touristy Union Station in St. Louis, MO, which we enjoyed very much. I do think it would be very important to investigate the legitimacy of the firm who submitted this proposal before moving forward. I would like to see an emphasis on the tourist attractions in our city; perhaps with a branch of the Bristol Historical Society on the site and the proposed trolley giving tours of the attractions like the Carousel Museum, Clock Museum, etc. In the fall of 2007, the AAA Journeys magazine featured "The Best of Bristol", which was a three page article about Bristol and our unique attractions. Another interesting thought for this would be for the trolley to run between there and Lake Compounce during the summer season, similar to the "Downtown Disney" idea.
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Contact Steve Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org