City councilors unanimously agreed to try to cut a deal with Renaissance Downtowns to lead the effort to overhaul the former mall site on North Main Street.
But they unexpectedly added some additional strings to the process by requiring that a city lawyer take a role in the negotiations between the Long Island-based developer and the Bristol Downtown Development Corp.
They also set up one more opportunity for the council to play a major role in the process by mandating that whatever deal is cut in the months ahead has to receive a green light from councilors before it can take effect.
Mayor Art Ward said he wanted to include the changes in order to make sure councilors are kept abreast of the talks and that their concerns are included in the negotiations.
“That’s all we asked them to do, to approve it so we could go on to negotiations,” said Frank Johnson, who heads the BDDC.
“Hopefully we can get an agreement pounded it,” Johnson said.
Renaissance is eyeing the creation of a new urban-style downtown that would include retail shops, housing and perhaps offices. It would be pedestrian-friendly with the aim of creating a thriving hub in the city center.
At this point, the company hasn’t said anything about the possible details, including costs, that its bid to transform the city-owned, 17-acre former downtown mall site may require.
The downtown agency, which the city created in 2006 to lead the effort, has tapped one of its members, Jennifer Janelle, to lead its negotiating.
The first meeting for negotiations must occur within 14 days, Johnson said. There’s another 120 days to complete the talks.
“I would hope we could get something sooner than that,” he said.
The city bought the former mall site in 2005 for $5.3 million and razed the mall two years ago. Officials said they wanted to control the fate of the crucial parcel.
One councilor was absent, Democrat Kevin McCauley, a city firefighter injured at the scene of a blaze a week and a half ago.
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