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Settlement clears way for Dunkin’ Park development

A $10 million settlement between the city and parties involved in the cancellation of Dunkin’ Park development clears the way for construction to resume around the home of the Hartford Yard Goats (Double-A; Eastern League).

This is a long and complex saga going back almost a decade, to 2014. When the original Hartford Yard Goats ballpark plan was developed by the city, it was 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 be expanded by Dunkin’ Park development with hotels, office, restaurants, retail and more.

That was the plan in 2014, anyway. By 2016, the ballpark opening had been delayed — too many change orders, say Centerplan Co. and DoNo Hartford, who were charged with ballpark construction as well as area development; incompetence, says the city — and the Yard Goats were forced to play the season on the road, with Whiting Turner brought in to complete the Dunkin’ Donuts Park construction. The city then terminated development rights for Centerplan Co. and DoNo Hartford and instead award them to RMS Cos, who committed to development of Parcel C, an area beyond the ballpark’s right-field wall that is set to receive 270 mixed-income apartment units, along with a parking garage, and 11,000 square-feet of ground-floor retail and flex space as part of a $50-million phase of development.

Predictably, Centerplan Co. and DoNo Hartford sued, with the city’s insurer, Arch Insurance Co., becoming involved. The city won the first round, but appeals were ongoing.

The settlement pays $10 million to Arch Insurance Co., which financed the remaining construction of the ballpark. Out of that $10 million, $1.8 million will be paid to Centerplan Co. and DoNo Hartford.

For the city, it seems like a bargain: Hartford was projecting $6 million in legal fees if the appeals continued. And, perhaps more importantly, it allows the city to move forward with its vision of the ballpark as a destination and attraction with Dunkin’ Park development. The Yard Goats are already a success and a solid draw.

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