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Jury Rules in Hartford’s Favor in Legal Challenge Over Dunkin’ Donuts Park

Dunkin' Donuts Park

A jury has ruled in favor of the City of Hartford in a legal dispute with the former developers of Dunkin’ Donuts Park, who were ordered to pay the city $335,000. 

When construction on Dunkin’ Donuts Park began in February 2015, it was envisioned that the ballpark would open for the relocating New Britain Rock Cats–now the Hartford Yard Goats (Class AA; Eastern League)–at the start of the 2016 season, and anchor future development in the Downtown North area. However, the construction process was marked by several delays and overruns, prompting the city to terminate its agreement with the ballpark’s original developers, Centerplan Construction Co. and DoNo Hartford LLC. The Yard Goats ultimately played the entire 2016 season on the road before opening the facility in April 2017–after Whiting-Turner took over and completed construction–while the city later cut all ties with Centerplan and DoNo Hartford by terminating an agreement to redevelop properties surrounding the ballpark.

The developers later sued the city, and were seeking $90 million in damages through a four-week trial that began early last month and concluded Monday. Ultimately, the six-member jury has ruled in favor of the city, with the developers to pay $335,000. With the verdict in place, the city is hoping that it can move forward with developing the area surrounding Dunkin’ Donuts Park. More from the Hartford Courant:

The decision “represents the fact that the mayor did the right thing after attempting to work with Centerplan to get the stadium done. Terminating them, firing them was not an easy decision,” said Howard Rifkin, corporation counsel for the city of Hartford.

“We’re hopeful we can move ahead and begin development of the full project,” Rifkin said.

The developers, Centerplan and DoNo Hartford, sought $90 million in damages, arguing the city made last-minute changes to the plans for 6,000-seat Dunkin’ Donuts Park that prevented them from finishing it on time.

The city argued that Centerplan was in control of those changes, which were attempts to correct mistakes and make adjustments resulting from alterations Centerplan made in the original plans. Centerplan also knew those changes had to be made to the project, the city argued.

Although plans for new development in the surrounding area stalled amidst the legal dispute, the Yard Goats have had success over their time at Dunkin’ Donuts Park, racking up strong attendance since their April 2017 debut at the facility.

RELATED STORIES: Agreement on First Phase of Dunkin’ Donuts Park Development Approved; Trial Between Hartford, Former Ballpark Developer Set to BeginFirm Looks to Jump Start Development Around Dunkin’ Donuts ParkFormer Dunkin’ Donuts Park Developers File Intent to SuePlans Sought for Development Around Dunkin’ Donuts ParkHartford Cuts All Ties With Ballpark Developers

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