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.
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