October 4, 2017

Tax breaks OK'd for Rentschler Field shopping outlets

Photo | HBJ File
Photo | HBJ File
Horizon Group Properties plans to build a retail development at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, which is home to UConn football, outdoor retailer Cabela's, and plenty of vacant land.

The Outlet Shoppes at Rentschler Field project is moving a step closer now that the East Hartford town council has approved up to $16.9 million in tax breaks for the developer.

"Development in East Hartford has long been sought after as a stimulant for other developments and I think that's what this will serve as," Council Republican Minority Leader Esther Clarke said Wednesday. "I see it as a downpayment for a project that will benefit the town immediately in the form of jobs and eventually in the form of tax revenue."

The incentives unanimously approved Tuesday allow the developer, Horizon Group Properties, to have a full property tax exemption during first its two years and a decreasing percentage over the next eight years, said the town's Finance Director Michael Walsh.

Capped at $16.9 million, the incentive comes with the caveat that Horizon must occupy the space for 10 years or the tax breaks would end, he said.

Farmington's United Technologies Corp. and Horizon inked a lease agreement allowing for the development of a new outlet center at the end of August. Expected to cost up to $107 million, the new 280,000-square-foot center near Rentschler Field could take about 18 months to complete if work begins this fall, Mayor Marcia LeClerc said at the time.

LeClerc estimated the first phase of the project, which includes shops and dining establishments, should yield 1,200 direct and indirect construction jobs and 1,400 direct and indirect permanent jobs once the venue opens. Preliminary site work has begun and a formal groundbreaking is expected later this month, she said.

Horizon CEO Gary Skoin could not be reached for comment.

[This story has been updated.]

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