August 13, 2018

Following setback, $200M Windsor Locks project begins local approval process

A rendering of the proposed All Sports Village in Windsor Locks across a 76-acre lot on Route 20.

A Long Island developer whose ambitious $200 million proposed sports complex in Windsor Locks was sidelined last month amid concerns about his past legal history is scheduled to appear before the town's planning and zoning commission Monday night in the hopes of winning approval of his conceptual plan.

Andrew Borgia of JABS Sports Management in July proposed to build a sports complex across a 76-acre lot on Route 20 between I-91 and Old County Road.

The facility, known as All Sports Village, would include an indoor arena and outdoor stadium (between 5,000 to 7,000 seats each), and 16 indoor basketball courts that can be converted into 32 volleyball courts. The sports venue would also house eight synthetic turf fields for soccer, lacrosse, flag football, softball and field hockey.

However, Windsor Locks First Selectman Christopher Kervick abruptly announced July 16 that he was suspending talks with the developer after he learned of a civil lawsuit Borgia was facing in New York from investors in a prior sports development.

Kervick said several days later that he planned to hear Borgia's explanation of the suit, which alleges the developer defrauded several investors in an Islip, N.Y. project out of $467,000.

In a recent interview, Kervick said he's still doing his due diligence, but was potentially open to moving forward with the project.
"I'm not quite ready to say we're diving right back in," Kervick said. "I think we're moving in that direction."

Kervick traveled to Long Island during the last weekend of July, visiting Baseball Heaven, a Yaphank, N.Y. sports facility Borgia developed in 2004, and seeking additional information about the Islip project that's the subject of the legal dispute.
"I've done plenty of sniffing around," he said.

He described Baseball Heaven, in which Borgia sold his interest as a result of a 2006 legal settlement with former partners, as "a very impressive facility."

Borgia, who is looking for a property tax deal from the town of Windsor Locks, and his New York attorney have both downplayed the Islip lawsuit, characterizing it as a disagreement between partners that's common in real estate development.

In an interview last week with the Hartford Business Journal, however, Borgia, accompanied by his local real estate attorney, Paul Smith, did express regret about not disclosing it up front.

"I didn't think it was significant to even bring this issue up initially, but knowing what I know now, I should have brought it forward," Borgia said. "I didn't want it to get blown out of proportion, and unfortunately it did."

Smith, of Smith & Bishop in Windsor Locks, said Kervick's position is understandable.

"Obviously, the town is being cautious as they should be, but at the same time it's moving forward in a very positive way," Smith said.

Borgia said he's also discussed his New York suit in recent weeks with the state Department of Economic and Community Development, from which he hopes to get incentive funding tied to the 400 jobs he says his project could create.

Youth sports competitions have become a $15.5 billion industry, and Borgia says Windsor Locks could see plenty of benefit from his facility.

Meanwhile, the local approval process kicks off on Monday.

At the public hearing, Windsor Locks officials will weigh approval of the project's general development plan. It's an early step that could give Borgia a better sense of whether his development meets local zoning and use rules, before investing his money in developing full site plans. Approval could help pave the way for further local and state approvals, as well as financing agreements.

Borgia has yet to present a financing proposal to Windsor Locks, which will be a key step. He said last week he remains confident he can wrangle the investments for what would be his largest project, and shared that some of his potential investors are in the Boston area, though he declined to identify them.

Smith, his attorney, estimated that a financing plan would be forthcoming within "several months."

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Kervick had ended talks with Borgia last month. He said at the time he was freezing talks.

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