September 5, 2018

Sports complex developer revises plans for W. Locks

PHOTO | Contributed
PHOTO | Contributed
A prior rendering of the proposed sports complex in Windsor Locks.

The developer proposing to build a massive sports complex at Route 20 and Interstate 91 in Windsor Locks has filed revised plans that don't call for using the Waterworks Brook property, the first selectman said Tuesday.

First Selectman Christopher Kervick said JABS Sports Management LLC has filed two revisions to its first plan, which it withdrew before a public hearing on a proposal to use a piece of the town-owned Waterworks Brook property.

The developer had hoped to use 7.5 acres of the property, which is subject to a conservation easement, in exchange for developing 1.25 acres of a planned 3-mile trail in the area.

But after residents voiced opposition, JABS principal Andrew Borgia said he changed his mind because he "realized the concerns of the community" and "wanted to make sure everyone was comfortable" with the plan.

The revisions remove any mention of the Waterworks Brook property.

Kervick said that another revision significantly reduces the size of a planned indoor arena.

The development plan continues to evolve as the town anticipates that JABS will soon submit a formal financial proposal requesting public funds for the complex, which would include an outdoor arena, hotels, and a movie theater.

Kervick said he and other town officials, including the town planner and economic development coordinator, would need to review the plan before it is submitted to the Board of Selectmen for a vote.

"It's a big project, and it will most likely be a big ask, so we have to review it carefully," he said at a Board of Selectmen meeting Tuesday.

JABS Sports Management has said that the project, dubbed All Sports Village, would need public assistance during the development phase to become a reality.

Kervick has said the town would set up a Tax Increment Financing district in the area to meet the developer's needs. In a TIF district, additional tax revenue from developments within the district are used to fund the developments themselves.

Aside from any approvals the project receives from town officials, a town meeting vote is required to establish a TIF district.

Town voters approved the state's first TIF district in the area along Main Street from Elm to Suffield streets in 2016. Developers who improve infrastructure or existing properties, including the developer currently renovating the Montgomery Mill building into apartments, receive tax breaks in the district.

Kervick has said the proposed all-sports complex development would be a multifaceted destination for families traveling for sports competition.

The plan includes both indoor and outdoor areas for competition in several sports, as well as amenities like dormitories for visiting teams, a convention room, an entertainment center, sports-related medical officers, restaurants, and shops.

Officials held a news conference in July to announce plans for the complex. A week later, town officials suspended talks with JABS.

The Hartford Business Journal reported that Kervick's announcement about suspending talks came shortly after it had inquired about an ongoing lawsuit accusing the company's principal, Borgia, of fraud.

The four plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which was filed in New York, assert that Borgia took $450,000 from them after pitching a sports complex that was never built. They also accused him of creating a company "with the intent to defraud potential investors."

According to the Hartford Business Journal, Borgia said he believed the town was overreacting to the lawsuit and that he would continue to pursue negotiations. His lawyer called the suit "frivolous."

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