April 28, 2014

BDDC to hold special meeting Wednesday re Depot Square

The Bristol Downtown Development Corp. plans to hold a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the first floor meeting room at City Hall to discuss the Depot Square financing plan submitted last week by Renaissance Downtowns.
Details to follow when I learn more.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Kilbourne continues as city Democratic chief

Press release from the city's Democratic Party:

The Bristol Democratic Town Committee is pleased to announce its 2014-2016 officers. Dean Kilbourne has been reelected as the Democratic Town Committee’s chair, Bill Wolfe was elected as vice chair, Wayne Johnson was elected as second vice chair, Krystal Myers was elected as secretary and Karen Vibert was appointed as treasurer. The Democratic Town Committee holds its monthly meetings on the fourth Monday of the Month in the City Council chambers at 7:30pm. We welcome and encourage any registered democrats who wish to get involved to attend. 

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

April 24, 2014

Renaissance expects to beat today''s Depot Square deadline

A financing plan for the proposed Depot Square project is expected to be submitted before tonight's deadline established by the Bristol Downtown Development Corp.
Ryan Porter, the project manager for the Long Island-based Renaissance Downtowns, said this afternoon he was polishing off the final touches and expected to submit the plan electronically late in the day.
He said some paperwork is likely to be delivered early Friday to flesh out the submission.
Once the plan is in the hands of the city-created nonprofit, officials will review its details to determine whether it is sufficient to allow the city to go ahead with the sale of property along Main Street for the first phase of the project.
Porter said the submission package would include both public and confidential sections, though some of the secret data would likely become public when the project moves forward.
Renaissance plans to erect two buildings during the $40 million first phase of the project, with market-rate apartments in both. Shops and restaurants would fill the first floor of one, facing Main Street to the east and a new public piazza to the west.
The BDDC said it had to have the plan in hand Thursday in order to hold its scheduled monthly meeting about it on May 12. But it may hold a special meeting about it as early as Wednesday.
“Things are going to be heating up over the next couple of weeks,” Porter said.
Bristol Rising told its members Thursday that the develop intends to hold “a large public informational meeting” sometime in the first half of May “that will go into detail on the development and what the next steps are in the development process to getting the first shovel in the ground.”
“It will be a highly transparent meeting where all Bristol Risers and Bristol citizens interested in what’s happening downtown are encouraged to attend,” the BristolRising email blast said. It will likely take place at Nuchies restaurant.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

April 18, 2014

Veteran seeks to honor taps-playing trumpeter, former Mayor Frank Nicastro

A city veteran who has championed many projects on Memorial Boulevard said he has one last monument in mind. Al “Chops” Cianchetti said this week he would like to see a 4-foot granite bench carved to honor former Mayor Frank Nicastro for playing taps at the funerals of more than 4,000 veterans during more than half a century. Read full story.

Here is an MP3 link to Nicastro playing taps.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

April 17, 2014

McCauley eyeing race for registrar

It's looking pretty likely that Democratic Registrar Mary Rydingsward will face yet another primary.
Former city Councilor Kevin McCauley is apparently gearing up to take on the two-term incumbent in a primary this August.
Rydingsward has already won two primaries, defeating former Democratic Chairman Elliott Nelson in 2010 and party activist Bruce Suchinski in 2012.
Republican Registrar Sharon Krawiecki, who is also seeking reelection, is not expected to face any internal opposition.
McCauley will likely announce his plans at this month's Democratic Town Committee meeting.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

April 16, 2014

Links to see state taxes, grants and more

Here's a link that will let you see how much the state took in from income taxes, by municipality: 


Here's a link that will let you see how much state money was sent to any town (and other recipients): 


Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

April 2, 2014

Renaissance, the BDDC and Depot Square

2012 rendering of possible Depot Square look
Depot Square plan needs financial assistance

Here is the March 20 letter from Martin Kenny of Lexington Partners to Ryan Porter, the project manager for Depot Square:

Dear Mr. Porter: 
As you know, my firm Lexington Partners, LLC with 30 years of real estate development experience with 
a focus on ground-up multi-family residential development primarily in Connecticut has joined forces 
with the principals of D' Amato Construction, Inc. an experienced and reputable General Contractor with 
deep roots in the Bristol community to work with Renaissance Downtowns to explore a financially viable 
way to jump-start the first phase of development at Depot Square. 
We have been working with our team of architects, structural & civil engineers & construction 
professionals to come up with a development plan that includes residential apartment units housed in 
an attractive four story structure of institutional grade quality, with amenity space and a retail 
component fronting Main Street. We are currently finalizing design review and preparing a bid package 
so that we have a comprehensive estimate of both hard and soft costs. We do not expect to have this 
work finalized until the second week of April. 
Provided the estimate works out, we along with Renaissance will then be prepared to sit down with the 
Bristol Downtown Development Corporation ("BDDC") to discuss the plans and a financial proposal that 
we feel would be successful. Our team is only interested in developing a quality property that the City of 
Bristol and we can all be proud of. That being said, we recognize the development plan for this critical 
first phase will require some subsidy, and cannot be all things to all people and still actually get built. 
We hope to have a meeting to review our plan and the accompanying economics in mid-April. Thank 
you for your consideration.
Sincerely yours,
Martin Kenny

Here is the email that Bristol Downtown Development Corp. Chairwoman Jennifer Arasimowicz sent on April 1 to Ryan Porter, the project manager for Renaissance Downtowns:

Subject:                          Renaissance Downtowns Submittal
The BDDC is in receipt of the letter you forwarded from Lexington Partners dated March 20, 2014. As time is getting very short for the Board to make any recommendation to the Council and arrange for a Closing by May 25, 2014 if Renaissance's financing plan is accepted, I wanted to be clear on the expected deliverables in order for the Board to conduct a complete review and make meaningful recommendations. Our next meeting is currently scheduled for Monday, April 14. In order to proceed with that meeting and a review of Renaissance's financing, development and leasing plan, please submit the following materials no later than close of business on Monday, April 7. If these materials will not be available by April 7, please let me know the date on which you intend to submit them and I will poll the Board concerning the cancellation of the regular meeting and scheduling of a special meeting.
1.  Renaissance's proposed financing, development and lease plan for the Phases on which Renaissance intends to close, including a detailed explanation of the "subsidy" noted in the letter from Lexington Partners, and the status of any pre-leasing or secured retail tenants. Please also include the amount, source and terms of all financing including equity, with documentation of the status of commitments for all sources;
2. Whether and to what extent there will be any set-aside for low-income or workforce housing;
3.  An updated site plan of the Phases on which Renaissance intends to close;
4.  Any requested modifications to the Final Concept Plan previously approved by the Board;
5.  The plans for the piazza;
6.  A copy of the subdivision plan approved by the planning and zoning commission and an explanation of why it was subdivided into 3 parcels;
7.  A complete description of the proposed program mix for any Phases on which Renaissance intends to close along with a demonstration of how the program mix meets the requirements of the PDA for an initial closing;
8. A detailed explanation of the ownership structure/partnership that intends to close on the land, whether such structure is for only the particular Phases on which Renaissance intends to close or for the entire Project, and a demonstration that such a structure meets the ownership requirements of the PDA (i.e., Renaissance/Don Monti retaining 50% ownership);
9.  An artist rendering of the proposed construction;
10.  A detailed schedule for the proposed construction;
11.  The plan for subsequent Phases of development; and
12. An explanation of the construction being "of institutional grade quality," as set forth in the letter from Lexington Partners.
Thanks and we look forward to receiving your submission.
Jenn Arasimowicz
Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Bristol officials cringe at New Britain comparison

Most every time a Bristol official seeks to point to a place that's failing to do what government should, they target nearby New Britain.
Case in point: At Monday's budget hearing, Finance Vice Chairman John Smith said the city has to be willing to pay for a quality educational system and other quality of life necessities.
"If we don't do that, there's a community not too far to our east which has never done that," he said, adding that it's the kind of place where they snatch $10 million out of the water department's surplus and borrow money to buy textbooks.
"I don't ever want to be like that community," Smith said.
City Councilor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu said that New Britain has become a city with a group that is "extremely well off" and a much larger "strata of people living barely at the line of poverty."

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com