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September 15, 2023

Developer Randy Salvatore eyes major apartment conversion of RPI's former Hartford campus

CoStar RPI's former downtown Hartford campus at 275 Windsor St.

With efforts to build blocks of apartments around Hartford’s Dunkin’ Park stymied by ongoing litigation, developer Randy Salvatore hopes to redirect millions in public financing to a 369-unit apartment redevelopment of the former Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute campus on Windsor Street.

The 12.7-acre site was put on the market earlier this year. The campus sits just north of the minor-league ballpark, but is not part of a cluster of city-owned lots around the stadium that had been committed to a development – known as North Crossing – of roughly 1,000 apartments by Salvatore’s RMS Cos.

The city picked RMS to develop the North Crossing properties after it fired Middletown developer Centerplan Cos. from ongoing construction of the ballpark. Centerplan was also supposed to develop the vacant lots around the ballpark.

RMS opened its first, 270-unit apartment building off the southeast corner of the ballpark last year and had planned to immediately begin work on another apartment building and attached parking garage on a nearby city-owned parcel. Those plans were halted after the Connecticut Supreme Court ordered a new trial on a lawsuit Centerplan had filed against the city for wrongful termination. 

Michael Puffer | Hartford Business Journal
An exterior shot of the 'Pennant,' a 270-unit apartment building in the larger North Crossing development in downtown Hartford.

Centerplan originally lost the lawsuit, but appealed the lower court’s decision. It’s seeking the rights to redevelop the remaining vacant parcels within North Crossing and take control of the building already completed by Salvatore.

Given the legal issues, Salvatore is now asking the Capital Region Development Authority to allow him to tap a $13.6 million low-interest loan approved for the second phase of North Crossing for the redevelopment of the RPI property. 

The CRDA will also consider steering an additional $3 million loan toward the effort.

Salvatore, on Friday, said he plans to build out the RPI campus in phases, beginning with the construction of a 269-unit, market-rate apartment building and a parking garage, much like the existing “Pennant Building.”

That would be followed by construction of a 100-unit apartment building on the same 3-acre corner of the property.  

It is essentially taking the second phase of the halted North Crossing development and moving it to a new location, he said. 

“The idea is to jump-start what we were planning on building on Parcel B over to this site and make it a continuation of the North Crossing development,” Salvatore said. 
Salvatore said he is under contract on the RPI campus and expects to close within 60 days, provided he can secure funding through CRDA and achieve zoning relief needed for the project. 

Michael Puffer | Hartford Business Journal
Randy Salvatore

“There are some loose ends, but we have every expectation to be able to execute and move forward,” Salvatore said. 

The development proposed so far still leaves plenty of remaining room to build on the RPI campus. Salvatore said he has no definite plans yet for the extra space, but is considering mixed-use development.

“We continue to be really bullish about downtown Hartford and that’s why we continue to move forward to expand there,” Salvatore said.  

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