December 4, 2008

Downtown corp. eyeing ways to attract more developers

A new effort to find potential downtown developers is likely to get underway soon.

The draft solicitation for potential bidders “really lowers the barriers” for those who might be interested compared to the detailed requirements laid out during the unsuccessful first attempt to find a developer, said Dick Harrall, executive director of the Bristol Downtown Development Corp.

The nonprofit downtown agency is reviewing a draft “Request for Qualifications” that it hopes will attract qualified developers to consider what could be done with the 17-acre former mall site in the city center.

The BDDC says in the draft that it seeks “the most qualified developer that can create a unique livable downtown community that blends housing, office, retail, commercial, public facilities and open space with quality design, improved circulation of street networks and public gathering spaces.”

The key portion of the document, however, contains just two paragraphs detailing the submission requirements of anyone who’s interested.

It requires only that developers list the names, positions, track record and references for the owner, architect, builder and other key personnel.

While it is not required, the draft document also encourages prospects to include “the development team’s vision for” the mall site “and how your project experience would support your selection as the preferred developer.”

When the city sought a developer last spring, it asked for much more detailed plans and information and it specified what it wanted to see on the former mall site purchased by taxpayers in 2005 for $5.3 million.

The only bidder, Florida developer Ron Legrand, who touts himself as the “millionaire maker,” was dismissed from serious consideration early on after officials read Press stories looking into his background.

This time, officials are aiming for a wider pool of applicants because they’re not seeking so much information and work up front.

Members of the seven-person BDDC are reviewing the draft and plan to seek proposals again within a couple of months.

It isn’t clear whether there will be much interest given the bleak economic outlook, officials admit, but they are angling for a developer with ambition to lay the groundwork now so that a project might be possible when the recession lifts.

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at


concerned conservative said...

The purhase of the downtown mall site by the city has proved to be an extreme example of government waste, intrusive-ness, shortsighted-ness as well as a misuse of power.

Shame on all the council people who pushed and voted for the purchase of the mall and the mall site.

Ralph Pierce said...

PLEASE don't lower the standards!

What goes in will be there for years.

Another few months won't matter.

Steve Collins said...

I guess that perhaps it isn't clear enough. The lower barriers refer to the initial paperwork that a developer needs to turn in, not the project they propose. If the city doesn't like what's offered, it doesn't have to take anyone or back any project.

Anonymous said...

Dear concerned,

Time to stop dwelling on the negative. It may have been a big mistake, but it's history now. Time to look forward to revitalizing our downtown. We're in a recession now, but hopefully when it's all over we can bring in the shops and restaurants that Bristol so badly needs. Try to think positive!

Anonymous said...

help us george carpenter !!!!!

you're our only hope !!!!!

Anonymous said...

With the expanding of Rte. 72 I really see no reason for anyone of the "big" stores to not want to move in downtown. Bristol is 60,000 plus, there must be other reasons of them not wanting to take a chance.

Anonymous said...

Three or four years ago there was a major push for the development of the site using state money and creating a unique public-private space.

If that proposal had gone forward everyone today would be enjoying the use of a well designed community space.

Paul Morrision said...

But the PEOPLE knew that it was not the best solution for Bristol, and let their feelings bre known.

Shane said...


And paying dearly for it!

Anonymous said...

Once 72 is done and the recession is over, we're going to have shops and restaurants downtown. It's gonna be terrific! (Hey, it's the season for miracles....we can always hope, right?)

ben said...

the city should consider selling pieces (plots) of the mall site to whom ever could afford to purchase, once the (all) plots are sold individually each owner can combine to make a condo type mini strip mall , such as corbins corner.