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CT Construction Digest Tuesday November 12, 2019

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CT2030

With GOP on sidelines, Senate Dems cool to CT2030

Gov. Ned Lamont will walk into the Senate Democratic majority caucus Wednesday morning to pitch CT2030, his new $21 billion transportation plan, knowing he has yet to find a full-throated champion for it among fellow Democrats in the upper chamber, only quiet sympathizers, wary skeptics and a few resolute opponents.
The governor is expected to reiterate what he told the House Democratic majority on Friday: He sees CT2030 as crucial to growing Connecticut’s stagnant economy, and anyone opposed to the limited highway tolls in his financing plan should be prepared to support an alternative capable of raising the same $320 million a year.
“You’ve got to have an alternative,” Lamont said. “I think people know now we need to do it. The question is how do you pay for it?”
Senate President Pro Tem Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, said Monday that his caucus remains wary of embracing tolls without some Republican support — something that Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, conceded was unlikely with the GOP already deep at work on a tolls-free alternative.
Fasano said the governor has a reasonable rationale for limited tolling: A toll is a user fee and an estimated 40% of the new revenue would come from out of state drivers. But he said the governor cannot overcome Republican suspicions that the number and price of tolls would increase, even if Lamont’s proposal would fix the scope and pricing in law.
“A lot of people would say if you paid for something you use, it makes sense,” Fasano said. “It’s a trust-in-government issue and future legislatures and legislators that are are going to say, ‘Tolls are here, let’s do more.’ And that’s where the plan is running into a wall.”
Looney was careful Monday not to rule out his caucus eventually being sold on CT2030, saying he had yet to gauge support since last week’s rollout. But Looney also said he expects Democrats to explore alternatives to tolls, including the legalization of sports betting and recreational marijuana.
Democrats hold a 22-14 advantage in the 36-seat Senate. Eleven are first-term senators, and five are in seats wrested from Republicans in 2018. Lamont could afford to lose no more than four Democratic votes and still pass CT2030. (An 18-18 tie would be broken by the presiding officer, Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz.  Rank-and-file Senate Democrats reacted cautiously, if not cooly, to CT2030 in interviews Friday and Monday, noting opposition to tolls has taken root since Lamont’s initial proposal in February and was a factor in some municipal races last week.
“I think the boat was missed,” said Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague. “I really wish this was the plan or the approach in February,” said Sen. Norman Needleman, D-Essex, noting that the new plan outlines projects to be built, an oversight February. “It’s not starting with, ‘Give me the money, and trust me’ ”Osten and Needleman are the two Democratic senators who also run their communities as first selectmen. Needleman was re-elected a week ago. Osten, whose vote for a tolls bill at a committee meeting was an issue during the election, lost.
“I don’t attribute it all to tolls,” Osten said.
Osten said the Republicans made her a target, capitalizing on a budget shortfall that she blamed on the Board of Education. 
The GOP also flipped control of local governments in Wethersfield, Rocky Hill and Newington, where Republicans made tolls an issue, albeit to varying degrees.  All three communities are represented by Sen. Matt Lesser, D-Middletown, who was non-committal Monday about CT2030.
“I’m trying to understand how it affects my district, like everyone else is,” Lesser said. “I’m processing it, talking to local officials.”
CT2030 would remove a traffic signal on Route 9 that is the source of backups during weekday commutes and on summer weekends, when the state highway is taken to the shoreline by beachgoers. A toll would be placed on Route 9 to finance the $90 million to $180 million cost of redesigning the highway and constructing a new bridge to eliminate the current intersection with local roads.The new plan cuts its reliance on tolling revenue by more than half. The original plan called for at least 50 gantries on Route 15 and Interstates 84, 91 and 95, raising nearly $800 million. CT2030 calls for tolls on 14 bridges, with the revenue dedicated to financing their repair, remodeling or new construction.
House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, and House Majority Leader Matt Ritter, D-Hartford, are generally supportive of CT2030, giving Lamont something in the House that he lacks in the Senate — a champion in the ranks of leadership.
Ritter said the backlog of transportation infrastructure maintenance, the need for improvements to speed up highway and commuter rail commutes, and the approaching insolvency of the Special Transportation Fund all demand legislative action. 
“People have to stop being lazy legislatively and propose things and have a real debate and conversation on this,” Ritter said. “The intellectual dishonesty of saying no is unfair.”
In 1991, Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. managed to pass the income tax over the objections of the Senate’s Democratic leaders, President Pro Tem John B. Larson of East Hartford and Majority Leader Cornelius O’Leary of Windsor Locks.
But Weicker had a champion in Sen. William A. D-Bella, D-Hartford, the co-chair of the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee. Lamont has no one playing that role now, and the problem goes deeper than a reluctance to embrace tolls.
“I think people like me and others would be willing to champion the transportation initiative if they saw a governor who is more engaged and understanding the needs of the members and where they come from in their home districts,” said Sen. John Fonfara, D-Hartford, the co-chair of the finance panel.
Fonfara said the governor’s deep cuts in borrowing have undermined a range of legislative priorities, including the continued financing of affordable housing and the remediation of polluted brown fields, a major issue in cities struggling with an industrial past. Legislators would like to believe that Lamont has broader interests than transportation, he said.“There is a lot [more] to their agenda than this one proposal,” Fonfara said, “And, heretofore, he has not been willing to entertain that.”

Dan Haar: Here's how much each Lamont toll would cost you
Dan Haar
If you drove every workday between, say, New Haven and Stamford you would pay $2.40 round trip, or $550 a year in tolls under Gov. Ned Lamont’s plan.
Danbury to Waterbury? That’s gonna set you back $460 a year.

And if all you do is pass the infamous Route 7 interchange on the Merritt Parkway in Norwalk, even if you’re just traveling one exit, you’re in for $370 a year.
Those prices assume you’re in a car or light truck, using an electronic toll transponder registered in Connecticut.
Prices for the 14 toll locations Lamont is pushing are $1 each way at three locations: Route 9 in Middletown; I-95 in New London over the Thames River on the Gold Star Bridge; and that Route 7 mess on the Merritt, which is often backed up.
Two other toll locations would carry a 75-cent levy each way. They are I-91 in East Lyme and the Waterbury mix-master along I-84, where those stacks need to be rebuilt.
Otherwise, the nine other locations are a mere 50 cents each way.
And of course, Connecticut drivers fetch a 20 percent discount — 80 cents, 60 cents or 40 cents.
As we’ve all reported widely, you’d only have to pay once a day at each gantry, so having to go back home if you forgot your lunch would be free.
The proposed prices were on documents related to the rollout of Lamont’s CT2030 plan, but not the main website.
So, how much is all this compared with other states? The short answer is it depends, because Connecticut isn’t doing full  highway tolling. So if you’re going a long distance, it’s a lot less per mile than other states charge, and if you’re just using the highway for a few exits, it’smore.
A typical price in a Northeast state is 5 to 6 cents a mile. The Mass Pike, for example, is $7.45 each way with a Massachusetts E-ZPass, according to the turnpike authority. That’s 5.6 cents a mile, and it would be $9.45, or 7 cents a mile, without the Massachusetts registration.
Compare that to a trip from New Haven to Greenwich and you’re looking at 2.6 cents a mile for Connecticut-registered drivers — less than half the Mass Pike price. Yes, you’re going to need an E-ZPass for every state to get the discounts.
Connecticut’s most expensive highway, by far, would be I-95, aka the Connecticut Turnpike for most of its route. Driving the full length of it, from New York to Rhode Island, would set you back $2.60 each way with the discount, or $3.25 without the discount.
That’s a bargain at 2.4 cents a mile at the discount rate.
Ah, but if all you’re doing is zipping from Westport to New Canaan along the Merritt, that’s 14 cents a mile, or $460 a year for just a 5-mile stretch if you commute.
And if you’re going anywhere between West Haven Center and downtown Westport — a tough 34 miles, some of which will be repaired under Lamont’s plan — it’s absolutely free. Bridgeport area residents are spared the tolls completely while Waterbury has two sets of gantries.
Does that seem fair? Certainly not. That’s the charade of tolling only at selected bridges and interchanges. We desperately need tolls to pay for all this, it’s free money from out-of-state drivers and interstate trucks. But without the political will to toll whole roads, we’re stuck debating a system that unfairly targets people who happen to live and work in certain places.
And if you’re plotting to avoid the tolls by driving around on local roads, consider this: Connecticut is allowed to place the gantries strategically to limit motorists’ ability to skip the charges — even if that means placing them a ways away from the targeted project.
The complete list
Following is the proposed price, without a Connecticut discount, of each of the 14 tolls in Lamont’s plan. The percentage figure shows the share that would come from non-Connecticut drivers. Heavy trucks would pay 7 times the listed amounts, or $3.50 for a 50-cent bridge and $7 for one that costs cars a buck
* Route 9 Middletown, bridge at Route 17, $1, 17 percent
* Route 15 Norwalk, Route 7 interchange, $1, 36 percent
-95 New London, Gold Star Bridge, $1, 36 percent* I-95 East Lyme, bridge over Route 161, 75 cents, 37 percent
* I-84 Waterbury mix-master stack at Route 8: 75 cents, 32 percent
* I-84 Newtown/Southbury over the Housatonic Bridge: 50 cents, 40 percent
* I-84 West Hartford, bridge over Berkshire Road west of exit 41: 50 cents, 28 percent
* I-91/Route 15 Hartford, Charter Oak Bridge interchange: $1, 31 percent
* I-95 Stamford, bridge over Metro North, 50 cents, 49 percent
* I-95 Norwalk/Westport, bridge over Route 33 and the Saugatuck River, 50 cents, 40 percent
* I-95 West Haven, bridge over Metro North, 50 cents, 36 percent
* I-395 Plainfield, Moosup River, 50 cents, 35 percent
* I-684 Greenwich, Byram River, 50 cents, 85 percent
* Route 8 Waterbury, bridges south of I-84, 50 cents, 16 percent

What's happening to tolls? People are slowly wising up
Chris Powell
Governor Lamont's plan for imposing tolls on Connecticut's highways has devolved over a few months from 50 tolling stations producing about $800 million a year to just 14 stations at bridges needing renovation, where a mere fraction of that $800 million would be raised.
So what happened to the plan? The governor, a Democrat, eventually calculated that while his party has comfortable majorities in both houses of the General Assembly, a majority can be built for tolls only on the smallest scale, since the Republicans are opposed and many Democrats are fearful of retaliation from their constituents.
Some of the governor's ideas for transportation improvements are compelling, like bringing more passenger service to Tweed New Haven Airport or a serious amount to Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford, along with modernizing the Metro-North commuter railroad from New Haven to New York. But putting tolls all over the place would be far too visible to voters. It also would be a regressive form of taxation, falling mainly on the poor and middle class, whom the Democrats purport to represent. Meanwhile the state's ever-rising taxes are inducing people with higher incomes to leave the state, which continues to lose population relative to the rest of the country.
Democratic legislators are usually willing to raise taxes, so their reluctance with tolls indicates a change in political atmosphere. Such a change was also indicated by the most notable result of this year's municipal election campaigns -- the defeat of New Haven Mayor Toni Harp by Justin Elicker in the Democratic primary and then again in last week's election, where Harp ran as the candidate of the government employee union-dominated Working Families Party. Harp had just raised New Haven's property taxes by 11 percent and her administration lately was full of costly incompetence.
Since Democratic legislators fear tolls and since even overwhelmingly Democratic New Haven seems sick of taxes, people here slowly may be wising up. So the government class may be vulnerable if Connecticut ever has an opposition party not led by President Trump.
In any case, tolls are not really for transportation purposes. Rather they are for allowing the state's Democratic regime to avoid economizing in the rest of government in favor of transportation.
Tolls will let state government continue to overlook its mistaken and expensive policies with education, welfare, and government employees, where ever more spending fails to improve learning, worsens the dependence of the unskilled, and makes public administration less efficient and accountable.
Connecticut needs profound reform in these respects, and enacting tolls will only reduce the pressure on elected officials to choose the public interest over special interests.
The state's most fearsome special interest, the Connecticut Education Association, the teacher union, inadvertently illustrated one of those choices the other day. The union issued a report about “sick” schools -- schools that, because of deferred maintenance and lack of improvements, suffer from mold, excessive heat, and such.
But school maintenance and improvements are neglected in large part because state law requires binding arbitration of teacher union contracts, thereby giving teacher compensation priority in budgeting. There's no binding arbitration for “sick” schools, so maintenance and improvements are often deferred in favor of raising teacher pay.
What's really sick here is the law, since it serves only the special interest, letting it cannibalize the rest of government.

 Crane falls on New London construction site
Sten Spinella
New London — A crane working on the construction of an apartment complex on Howard Street Monday morning fell into the road.
The crane, which was being used for the apartment complex currently under construction at the corner of Bank and Howard Streets, fell partially into the roadway. A section of Howard Street was cordoned off by police and fire vehicles, preventing traffic from crossing the intersection of Bank and Howard streets for more than two hours.
According to Battalion Chief Jeffrey Rheaume, units were dispatched at 8:37 a.m. Police Captain Brian Wright said police are still investigating exactly why the crane turned over.
No one was injured in the incident. Rheaume said the operator of the crane refused medical attention. Wright said he isn't sure about the extent of damage to the crane.
Rheaume said about five gallons of fuel spilled from the tank of the crane and into the dirt on  the construction site. Authorities notified the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection about the fuel spill.
Authorities also notified the state Department of Labor's Division of Occupational Safety and Health, as is customary for accidents on construction sites.
Pennsylvania-based A. R. Building Company is working on the development along with e2 Engineers, a structural engineering group in New London. In May of 2018, New London's Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council approved construction of a 98-unit residential apartment complex on the site.

East Hartford’s Founders Plaza eyed for major mixed-use redevelopment
Joe Cooper
resh off a major facelift, East Hartford’s most notable office building could soon be part of a much larger transformation.
The town’s economic-development arm is searching for a developer for an ambitious plan to convert the area surrounding the half-century-old Founders Plaza office tower on Pitkin Street into a mixed-use residential-retail center with up to 2,000 new apartment units.
East Hartford’s development-services department this year collaborated with the building’s landlord, Merchants 99-111 Founders LLC, the quasi-public Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) and Hartford’s Tecton Architects on conceptual plans geared toward making Founders Plaza a “live, work, play destination,” something the town largely lacks now.
The Founders Plaza site, adjacent to a 121-room Hampton Inn & Suites hotel, has been blanketed by surface parking lots since its early 1970s debut.
“It’s taken us the last nine months or so to put this together, and it’s kind of ambitious, but it can be phased in over time,” said Eileen Buckheit, the town’s development director. “We are really hopeful this design can attract a private developer to partner with the owner.”
Buckheit said the town is looking for a developer that will partner in constructing new buildings over 12.6 acres of largely black pavement.
Plans call for an initial build-out of up to 400 residential units, with a potential for phased construction of up to 2,000 units over time.
Small-scale retailers, like a coffee shop or dry cleaner, could also occupy space.
“That’s why we were so excited about this plan, because we could do a few hundred units at a time, wait for the market to absorb those units, and move forward from there,” Buckheit said. “The town is eager to be a partner in this, but we are looking for this to be privately led.”
It also comes as demolition begins on the vacant Showcase cinemas on Silver Lane, an area that is also being eyed for residential or hotel development.
Parking question
Before any plans move forward on Founders Plaza, a study will be done to decide whether or not to extend the life of the tower’s adjoining 333-space parking garage, or demolish it and rebuild. East Hartford already has $500,000 in state Bond Commission funding, secured by CRDA, for the planning and design of a new parking garage at Founders Plaza.
A potential carrot for an interested developer is that the land is in a so-called Opportunity Zone (OZ). That means investments in the area are eligible for capital gains tax incentives.
There are 72 low-income neighborhoods in 27 municipalities across Connecticut that have been tagged as OZs, including in East Hartford, Hartford and West Hartford.
East Hartford’s economic-development team attended a late-October OZ conference sponsored by the state, pitching Founders Plaza as an opportunity to create a vibrant urban destination that links the business district along the Connecticut River to the Founders Bridge leading into downtown Hartford.
“The bridge is really popular for walkers, and it would be really easy for people to work at Founders Plaza and walk over to their home in Hartford, and vise versa,” Buckheit said.
Recent upgrades, tenancy
While Founders Plaza awaits new potential investments, more than $600,000 was spent in the last year to upgrade the 19-story tower.
The face-lift included a fresh coat of exterior paint, and other improvements to the lobby-entryway, first-floor cafeteria, wallcoatings and flooring. A new security/visitors’ station was also added.
Merchants 99-111 Founders LLC acquired Founders Plaza for more than $23.2 million in 2002, and years later sold off an adjacent office building at 99 Founders Plaza, land records show.
The roughly 257,000-square-foot office building in recent years has lost several major tenants, including CareCentrix, Amenta Emma Architects, and administrative offices for Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, all of which relocated to downtown Hartford. Mortgage lender 1st Alliance Lending has also scaled down its operations there.
At its peak, the tower consistently had an occupancy rate of about 95 percent because of its link to downtown Hartford, according to lease broker Tom York, of Goman + York Property Advisors LLC.
York said the tower has experienced a few down years of late, but he is bullish about its future given the redevelopment push and because his firm is negotiating with several new potential tenants.
“Historically, this building had strong leasing demand,” York said. “We will get back there.”

CT nonprofits stake capital wish list on little-known tax-credit program
Matt Pilon
Connecticut nonprofits have seen a decade-long decline in state financial support, as lawmakers grapple with continued budget deficits.
But some financiers and officials perceive a potential bright spot, at least for nonprofits trying to put together financing for major capital projects like new buildings.
New Markets Tax Credits (NMTCs) are a little-known federal incentive that have pumped major dollars into Connecticut over the past 15 years.
The U.S. Treasury, which oversees NMTCs, says it has allocated more than $360 million worth of the credits that ultimately ended up seeding construction and real estate projects, many of them by nonprofits, in low-income areas throughout Connecticut, according to federal data.
But, while that may seem like a lot of money, Connecticut actually punches below its weight in the NMTCs program. And there are still plenty of nonprofits crossing their fingers that they can obtain the tax credits to fill crucial project financing gaps, including the Hartford Boys and Girls Club, which is fundraising to build a new $18-million clubhouse in the city’s South End.
The tax credits could also be the answer for a long-awaited downtown Hartford grocery store.
The state ranks 39th in the country for the amount of NMTC investments per low-income resident, with Hartford — one of the poorest cities in the country — being particularly underserved, according to an analysis by the Connecticut Health and Educational Facilities Authority (CHEFA), which is making a play to increase the state’s share of the multibillion-dollar New Markets Tax Credits pie.
“There’s an underutilization of New Markets Tax Credits in Connecticut,” said CHEFA Managing Director Michael Morris.
The structure of New Markets Tax Credits transactions can be complicated, to say the least.
“Just when you think you fully understand it, you really don’t,” said Michael Suchopar, CEO of the Bristol Boys and Girls Club, who stayed patient through an NMTCs financing that helped pay for his club’s new headquarters that opened in 2014.
The Treasury each year allocates about $3.5 billion worth of tax credits to intermediaries called Community Development Entities, or CDEs, which in turn solicit investors — often banks — for equity and loan investments.
CDEs then seek out specific projects to finance.
As long as a development is in a qualified low-income census tract and complies with various other requirements, the investor would earn a tax credit equal to 39 percent of its investment over a seven-year period.
Depending on the scenario, NMTCs investments can produce a return of about 30 percent for the investor or bank, according to Michael J. Andreana, an attorney at Pullman & Comley who has worked on a handful of NMTC deals.
NMTCs are similar in some ways to the more recent federal Opportunity Zone program.
The latter is a vehicle for delaying and reducing taxes on capital-gains income, and is seen by some as having greater potential appeal to investors.
NMTCs haven’t been without controversy. A 2014 report issued by then-U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Maryland) called NMTCs “just another tax code giveaway with little available evidence to demonstrate its effectiveness … .”
Among the several dozen Connecticut projects financed through New Markets Tax Credits is the $34-million redevelopment of the Swift Factory, expected to wrap in the coming year, bringing sorely needed food-related jobs to residents in the distressed section of north Hartford.
The 82,000-square-foot building will soon house a wholesale facility for Bear’s Smokehouse BBQ and an indoor hydroponic operation run by FreshBox Farms, as well as a kitchen incubator, and office and community health space.
“This project would not have been feasible without the New Markets Tax Credits,” said Patrick McKenna, senior project manager of Community Solutions, the nonprofit redeveloper of the Swift Factory. “We felt it was kind of the only option we had to get the capital together.”
Conventional commercial lenders may have been uninterested in a project located in a “severely distressed” census tract that will command below-average rents, he said.
Community Solutions was able to pair the credits with state historic preservation tax credits, as well as other loans, financing and grants from the state and federal governments.
It took years to put the whole package together, and a lot of that had to do with the complexity of NMTCs, which Community Solutions had not used before.
The Bristol Boys and Girls Club had a similar experience dealing with NMTCs, which contributed several million dollars toward financing the nonprofit’s $10-million clubhouse.
Suchopar said dealing with the program’s complexities was worth it because the new facility has allowed the club to expand programming and serve more children and families.
The quasi-public Connecticut Health and Educational Facilities Authority (CHEFA) is known best for issuing bonds that help finance major capital projects for Connecticut hospitals and colleges.
CHEFA’s leadership recently decided to leverage the agency’s relationships with area nonprofits by enrolling in the New Markets Tax Credits program as a Community Development Entity. There hasn’t been an active Connecticut-based CDE in over a decade.
The designation gives CHEFA a shot at receiving a tax-credit allocation, and related equity investments from banks and others that want them.
CHEFA would then dole out that money largely to nonprofit capital projects worth at least $5 million, said Dan Kurowski, program manager for CHEFA’s recently formed subsidiary, CHEFA Community Development Corp.
Those projects include:
• The Boys and Girls Club of Hartford’s proposed $18-million clubhouse at the corner of Meadow and Ledyard streets in southeast Hartford.
• Hartford Community Loan Fund’s plan to bring a supermarket and nearby nutrition counseling office to North Hartford, an $18-million project coined the Healthy Hartford Hub.
• Community Mental Health Affiliates’ $8-million acquisition and renovation of a headquarters building in New Britain.
Rex Fowler, CEO of Hartford Community Loan Fund, said the credits would be a critical source of financing for the long-pursued Hartford supermarket.
Without the tax credits, he said it “doesn’t mean the project can’t happen, it just means we need to find an extremely low-cost or free source of capital, grants, or foundation investments, or something else to replace it.”
CHEFA won’t know if its application is successful until next year.
“These credits are incredibly challenging to obtain,” said Andreana, the Pullman attorney. “It’s very competitive for CDEs to get the credits and then it’s competitive as to how those credits are applied.”
CHEFA’s executive director, Jeanette Weldon, is hopeful.
“We are trying to build on CHEFA’s successful track record of providing financial assistance to nonprofits in the state,” Weldon said. “That’s the sector we were created to serve, and we have a lot of expertise we can bring to the table.”

Bloomfield sees steady development boom
Greg Bordonaro
“Building boom” is a phrase not often used in Connecticut as the state’s slow-growing economy, fiscal issues and declining population have dampened investment in real estate and other development.
But there have been some pockets of significant activity. One town that’s seen its fair share of development in recent years is Bloomfield. In fact, the town of nearly 21,000 saw $189.2 million worth of construction projects between 2015 and 2017, ranking it 14th among the state’s 169 cities and towns in overall investment, beating out much wealthier and/or larger municipalities including West Hartford, Windsor and Glastonbury.
“There is a lot of construction going on,” said Town Planner Jose Giner. So much so that Bloomfield has had to add three full-time building inspectors over the last five years to keep up with all the work. Another hire could be on the way.
The list of recently completed Bloomfield projects, which has exceeded the town’s expectations, includes both commercial and residential developments, Giner said.
And, there are more projects in the development pipeline, headlined by health insurer Cigna Corp.’s plans to invest $90 million-plus to renovate its Cottage Grove Road corporate headquarters and Swiss industrial-power/technology conglomerate ABB Group’s decision to establish its North American product-development center in a recently purchased 84,000-square-foot manufacturing facility at 45 Griffin Road South.
Meantime, the next phase of a town center apartment development could soon get underway. The first phase of that project — construction of the 215-unit Heirloom Flats luxury apartments — was wildly successful, having been fully leased within a year before being sold in January for $61 million to a New York investor.
Giner said a wetlands application has been submitted for the project’s next phase, which will include 42 apartment units constructed on Bloomfield Avenue, across from town hall.
Paul Butler, who is the principal of 25 Jerome Avenue LLC, is the project’s master developer. He acquired property in the town center and received approval in 2014 to build 407 apartments in three phases on Bloomfield and Jerome avenues and Jerome Way.
R. Michael Goman, principal of realty brokerage firm Goman + York, which provides economic-development consulting for the town, said Bloomfield’s central location — next to key highways and the employment centers of Hartford, West Hartford and Windsor, as well as more broadly New York and Boston — makes it attractive for residential and commercial development, including distribution centers.
Just as important, Goman said town officials have created a business-friendly environment.
“There are a lot of towns in Connecticut that wait on the next opportunity to come to their door,” Goman said. “What Bloomfield has been good at is taking a much more proactive stance to adding businesses to the community. If you want to attract companies you have to go out and compete.”
Bloomfield’s use of tax abatements also helps, Goman said, especially when the town is competing with other low-cost locales.
“The tax abatement was critical,” Goman said.

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