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July 29, 2022

State Bond Commission approves more than $350M for projects

MARK PAZNIOKAS / CT MIRROR Gov. Ned Lamont speaking at a news conference.

The State Bond Commission signed off Friday morning on $369.8 million in general obligation bonds, pouring hefty sums into brownfields and a rebooted version of the Small Business Express program, among many other efforts.

Gov. Ned Lamont said there were significant allocations for housing, including mixed and affordable housing, along with public-private partnerships. He also stressed the importance of transit-oriented development and brownfields remediation.

“Housing is not just Bridgeport, New Haven and Hartford; it’s also Middletown, Mansfield and Madison,” Lamont said. “So what this means in terms of holding down costs by having more housing options available is a big piece of what we're trying to do today.”

The commission additionally approved $482.2 million in Transportation Special Tax Obligation Bonds, which are dedicated to transportation initiatives and are repaid through pledged revenues from transportation-related taxes and fees.

The commission pumped $25 million into the state’s brownfield remediation grant program, and another $25 million into the reformed “Small Business Boost” program. The latter offers grants of up to $500,000, now with provisions establishing a pool dedicated to minority businesses.

The commission funded a laundry list of economic development and related housing initiatives, including:

·      $10 million for the Connecticut Manufacturing Innovation Fund. This is a loan and grant program meant to encourage joint research and development efforts between private business and universities; vouchers to assist with business development; job skills training, as well as matching funds for federal grants.

·     $6 million for grants to towns to support transit-oriented development.

·     $5.5 million for a low-interest loan to help with the $36.2 million redevelopment of the former Fuller Brush factory at 3580 Main St. in Hartford. This project, by major Hartford developer/landlord Shelbourne, will add 153 market-rate apartments.

·     $258,612 to help East Hartford demolish the former McCartin Elementary School. This will make room for single-family housing.

·     $3 million for a low-interest loan for the $18.7 million redevelopment of the former Travelers training center at 200 Constitution Plaza in Hartford into 101 apartments, 10% of which will be affordable. Biagio Barone of Stratford-based Barone Properties has teamed with John Guedes, president of Bridgeport builder Primrose Cos. for the redevelopment of the roughly 125,000-square-foot, five-story concrete building on the northeastern edge of downtown Hartford.

·     $1 million for improvements at the Connecticut Convention Center and Rentschler Field. Work will include repairs to stadium concrete, caulking and painting, along with replacement of damaged bathroom fixtures, flooring and ceiling sections. It will pay for new food and beverage equipment, LED lighting, sound system upgrades and various other repairs.

The bond agenda also included $53.5 million in earmarks through OPM for specific community projects, including some that include direct or tangential benefits to economic development, including: 

·     $2 million to help Hartford with brownfield remediation.

·     $1 million for improvements to the Elizabeth Park Conservancy in Hartford.

·     $2.1 million to Waterbury to upgrade electric and water capacity at its Captain Neville Industrial Park.

·     $415,000 for renovation at the Noah Webster House Museum in West Hartford.

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