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August 8, 2019

Bronin: City cleared to move forward with development surrounding Dunkin’ Donuts Park

Image | Contributed A breakdown of DoNo properties.

The city of Hartford has been cleared by a Superior Court judge to move forward with development around Dunkin’ Donuts Park, Mayor Luke Bronin announced Thursday.

Judge Thomas Moukawsher ruled Thursday that the city’s Downtown North, or DoNo, project can go forward, partially lifting the automatic stay of the jury verdict last month, and discharging the liens on the parcels around Dunkin’ Donuts Park, Bronin’s office said.

At a press conference, Bronin said he expects the project's fired developer, Centerplan Construction Co., to appeal the decision and he didn't offer a timeline related to when DoNo construction might begin. 

Bronin said it’s “highly unlikely” that the court would side with Centerplan’s appeal.

“All I can say is that we are looking forward to moving forward as quickly as we can,” Bronin said. “We have a lot more work to do, but we are moving in the right direction, and I think the judge recognized that and that denying the city a chance to move forward with this development would have done some damage to a city that’s gaining real momentum and energy.”

HBJ Photo | Joe Cooper

Thursday’s decision comes about a month after the city prevailed in a long-running legal battle with Centerplan, who was fired from building the city’s Dunkin’ Donuts ballpark downtown due to construction delays and cost overruns.

Capping a civil suit that spanned nearly three years, a Superior Court jury in early July ruled that Middletown-based Centerplan and DoNo Hartford LLC -- companies both controlled by Robert Landino -- were responsible for the stadium construction delays that led the city to fire them and terminate their related Downtown North redevelopment pact.

The companies were also ordered to pay the city $335,000, court records show.
An attorney for the companies, Raymond Garcia, previously said his clients would appeal that July verdict. Garcia could not be reached for immediate comment following Thursday's Superior Court decision.

Both court rulings help clear the way for Hartford's second choice as DoNo developer -- Randy Salvatore, founder and CEO of Stamford-based RMS Cos. -- to begin work on his $200 million vision to remake the DoNo quadrant with housing, office, retail space and parking.

In June, the city council approved the first phase of the Stamford developer’s $46 million plan to build 200 apartments, 11,000 square feet of retail space and community space, and a parking garage containing about 250 parking spots across the stadium at 1212 Main St. 

Overall, RMS plans to build up to 800 apartments and 60,000 square feet of retail and 2,000 parking spaces in four clusters flanking the ballpark.

Bronin on Thursday said he’s still hopeful the mixed-use development will include a grocery store.

“We’ve said many times we think that area of Albany and Main is an important area for a grocery store to be located,” he said.

For now, he said the city is looking to finalize a development agreement with RMS to push the project toward a groundbreaking. Bronin said he expects that deal to be completed in the “near future.”

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