Although the city is still in litigation with a former developer, a new firm is hoping to finalize an agreement to redevelop land around Dunkin’ Donuts Park–the home of the Hartford Yard Goats (Class AA; Eastern League).
Home to the Yard Goats since its 2017 opening, Dunkin’ Donuts Park has always been envisioned by local officials as an anchor for new development in the underutilized section of downtown Hartford. While the team itself has been a success since opening the ballpark, redevelopment efforts have stalled amidst an ongoing legal dispute between the City of Hartford and original developer Centerplan Construction Co.
The city fired Centerplan from the development side of the project in 2017, and opted last summer to select Stamford-based RMS Cos. to redevelop four vacant parcels surrounding the ballpark. However, a final development agreement with RMS has not been approved amidst the ongoing litigation, and Centerplan has placed liens on the sites. RMS–which had originally hoped to break ground on the first phase of development as early as May–is now pushing to get construction started before the end of this year, and is eager to see a finalized deal with the city. During a city council meeting on Monday, developer Randy Salvatore stressed that RMS is in a position to move forward quickly once the city can approve the agreement. More from the Hartford Courant:
Salvatore added to the council, “We’re ready to go as soon as you all are ready to go, as far as your approval process,” and as soon as the legal issues are dealt with.
Centerplan won the original bid to build office space, housing and retail on all four parcels, but was fired from the entire project after it missed two key deadlines to complete work on the baseball stadium. Another firm finished construction at Dunkin’ Donuts Park, and it opened a year late.
Centerplan sued the city for wrongful termination in 2016, and placed liens on the parcels in 2017 to block the city from using any other developer for the expansive project. But as the lawsuit has dragged on, Hartford selected a new developer, RMS Cos., and began fighting the liens that left Downtown North in limbo.
The city is asking the court to order Centerplan to lift its liens and release the land to Hartford. A hearing on the motion was started in January, but has not yet resumed.
Phase one of the development would take place on a parcel beyond the outfield wall at Dunkin’ Donuts Park that is currently used for parking. Under the current concept, the site would be redeveloped to feature a new mixed-use building that includes 200 mixed-income apartments, along with 11,000 square feet of retail and community space, and a 250-car parking garage. Over time, the full redevelopment project would affect 13 acres surrounding the ballpark, with additional apartments and retail possibly part of the mix.