A judge ruled Thursday to remove liens that were placed on properties surrounding Hartford’s Dunkin’ Donuts Park, effectively clearing the way for redevelopment.
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 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 Hartford Yard Goats (Class AA; Eastern League) ultimately played the entire 2016 season on the road before opening the facility in April 2017, while the city later cut all ties with Centerplan and DoNo Hartford by terminating an agreement to redevelop properties surrounding the ballpark.
The developers eventually sued the city seeking $90 million in damages, and had liens placed on the properties that were targeted for redevelopment. A jury sided with the city in that lawsuit last month, and Hartford Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher issued a separate ruling Thursday to remove the liens. The city has a deal for a new redevelopment plan led by Stamford-based RMS Cos., and having the liens out of the way could allow work on that project to begin in the coming months. More from the Hartford Courant:
“We are actively moving ahead,” said Randy Salvatore, founder and chief executive of RMS Cos. “We spoke to the city this morning, we are finalizing the legal documents and actively work on finalizing construction plans.”
The plans for the first phase on what is known as “Parcel C” — just to the south of the ballpark — call for $46 million to build 200 mixed-income apartments, 11,000 square feet of retail and community space and a 250-space parking garage. The first phase would take 18 months to complete.
Future phases would unfold over five or six years, partially funded by state taxpayer-backed loans from the Capital Region Development Authority.
In a 13-page, often strongly-worded decision released Thursday, Hartford Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher highlighted the importance of the $200 million development of apartments, shops, restaurants and parking garages to keep alive the redevelopment momentum that began with the minor league ballpark.
Centerplan has already filed notice that it intends to appeal last month’s jury verdict in the lawsuit, and representatives have indicated that they will be asking the courts to review Thursday’s ruling. 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 debut at the ballpark.
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