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Hartford ballpark development battle resumes

The longstanding dispute over Hartford ballpark development rights is back on, as the original developer whose agreement was terminated has won a legal battle for a new trial–which means we likely won’t see Dunkin’ Park area economic activity until 2025.

This twisted tale of how the home of the Hartford Yard Goats (Double-A; Eastern League) was born begins almost a decade ago in 2014. This is when the original Yard Goats ballpark plan was developed by the city, pitched as an economic-development plan for an underutilized part of downtown Hartford. The new ballpark would generate foot traffic in the area, which would then attract private investment and be developed with hotels, office, restaurants, retail and more, with increased taxes covering the $70-million ballpark price tag.

However, a scheduled 2016 ballpark opening did not come to fruition as construction of the ballpark was marked by several delays and overruns, prompting the city to terminate its agreement with its 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, while the city later cut all ties with Centerplan and DoNo Hartford by terminating an agreement to redevelop properties surrounding the ballpark.

That termination of the original development agreement has been in court ever since, with the city winning some battles and the original developers winning others. In the two most recent legal battles, the original developers prevailers, first convincing the Connecticut Supreme Court to award them a new trial and now winning a decision from Superior Court Judge Cesar A. Noble to halt all work on the development. While a first phase of 270 apartments was completed, the remaining three phases are on hold. From the Hartford Courant:

Pepe said his client were pleased with Noble’s ruling, noting it had successfully competed for the development rights for the parcels around the park.

“And they are just as willing, ready and able to develop them today as they were then,” Pepe said.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, who made the decision to fire Centerplan and DoNo Hartford which were hired by his predecessor, Pedro E. Segarra, issued a statement calling the court’s decision “very disappointing.”

The Yard Goats are not a party to all these legal machinations, by the way.

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