Developer Robert Landino asserted that one of his 2016 goals was to inject a positive tone into conversations about Hartford.
It turned out that 2016 was anything but uplifting for the Capital City, especially after Landino's DoNo Hartford LLC development partnership failed to deliver a usable minor-league baseball park downtown in time for the 2016 Double A minor-league baseball season, forcing the Yard Goats to play their inaugural season entirely on the road.
Instead, talk around the 6,000-seat Dunkin' Donuts stadium devolved into recriminations between Landino's development partnership, the city, ownership of the Yard Goats ballclub and the team's Eastern League parent.
That eventually led to Landino's companies, Middletown-based Centerplan Construction Co. and DoNo Hartford LLC, being fired from the project in June.
Since then, Arch Insurance Co., the insurer of Centerplan's performance bond, signed an agreement with the city of Hartford to complete the stadium, and hired Baltimore-based Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. to finish the job. The goal now is to complete the ballpark for the start of the April 2017 season, a deadline Arch recently said it is on pace to meet.
Project delays and incomplete or unsatisfactory work, however, have added millions of dollars to the project's pricetag, now estimated at $71 million.
Meantime, Landino's troubles didn't stop there. He and his companies are now engaged in several lawsuits related to the stadium development. Centerplan sued the city, claiming it was wrongfully terminated from the project and that 100 change orders from the city and team led to the delays and missed deadlines. The city and Centerplan have since agreed to mediate their ballpark dispute.
At the same time, Centerplan has been sued by Arch Insurance, which alleges the developer owes it $8.4 million for claims it had paid out.
Landino is a former Old Saybrook selectman and three-term state lawmaker, who grew up in New Haven.
Now reportedly engaged in trying to revive a once-bankrupt Atlantic City, N.J., casino as chief executive officer, Landino did not respond to repeated calls for comment.
Aside from the ballpark, the fate of Centerplan's proposal for more downtown Hartford development, including a Hard Rock Hotel, parking garage, condos and a supermarket, remain in limbo.