CT Construction Digest Tuesday January 21, 2020
Is the governor’s transportation bill stalled?
HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The clock is ticking and there is still no language on a bill to fix Connecticut’s transportation system.
It’s a pillar in the governor’s policy agenda.
“There will be a public hearing this week, but that’s up to the leaders,” Governor Ned Lamont told News 8. “They’re going to have to come up with a schedule.”
Insiders at the Capital expect a draft transportation bill to be released this week, but the regular legislative session begins Feb. 5, which is less than two weeks away.
Republican leader Sen. Len Fasano said the only reason the Democrats are trying to do it before is to sneak it in.
Despite the lack of a bill, Fasano said the unofficial vote count in the state Senate on the issue of tolls is divided 18 to 18.
Therefore, he’s focusing on options like running the Republican Faster CT plan.
“Absolutely, we’ll not only run the bill but we will run amendments if our bill fails,” Fasano said. “It gives them an alternative at least they can’t walk away from the chamber and say it was the only plan up there.”
The Republican plan relies on funding the nearly $20 billion transportation plan through leveraging a line of credit with some of the rainy day fund.
The Republican plan relies on funding the $20 billion transportation plan through leveraging a line of credit with some of the rainy day fund.
Many Democrats don’t like the idea and are pushing the governor’s trucks only tolls to raise money for low-interest federal government loans to pay for the plan.
Those on the fence like Democratic Senator Matt Lesser need details, “I have to read it before I can commit one way or another. I haven’t seen it yet. What I’ve said to my constituents is it’s really important to see how it affects my district.”
Lamont said no more roadblocks; he wants the transportation bill voted on before the February legislative session begins.
Wesleyan to issue $75 million in bonds to fund expansion project
MIDDLETOWN — Wesleyan University’s physical campus plays an important role in the distinctive residential liberal arts education it offers students. Facilities planning has been a focus on campus recently, with major upgrades in the works for the academic buildings housing Wesleyan’s art, social science, and science programs.“Our work on campus involves modernizing, upgrading, and, in some cases, expanding our core academic centers. These facilities will be transformed into spaces where courageous faculty and students can activate their ideas to make a difference in the world,” said President Michael Roth ’78. “We are taking steps now to ensure Wesleyan is a high-impact university for decades to come.”
In early 2020, the university is planning for a $75 million bond issue to enable it to accelerate this work, including construction on the Public Affairs Center and planning work for the science facilities. In December, Standard & Poor’s credit rating agency affirmed a AA credit rating for the bond issue, while Moody’s affirmed its Aa3 rating.
The Public Affairs Center, home of Wesleyan’s social sciences, is slated for a major upgrade in the coming years. Located at the heart of campus, the updated building will be nearly 20 percent larger and feature a 75 percent increase in classroom space, as well as a new art gallery space connecting to Olin Library. Classrooms and gathering spaces in the building will be flexible and modern, inspiring interaction among students and faculty across academic disciplines and fostering innovation. Funding from the bond issue will allow construction to begin as early as 2020.
The university plans to continue raising funds to support its strategic priorities, as well. While the successful This is Why campaign (which concluded in 2016) focused largely on building the endowment to ensure Wesleyan’s future fiscal stability and support financial aid, “the next decade will be about continuing to build the endowment while also investing in our campus infrastructure to meet the needs of future generations of students,” said Vice President for Advancement Frantz Williams ’99.
“We are on a mission to raise significant funds to invest in the future of a Wesleyan education. We are fortunate to have a loyal and generous donor community to help ensure that our campus remains an incubator of creative ideas that have an impact on our students and the world in which they will live,” he added.
Development agreement inked for $26M Park-Main St. redevelopment
The city of Hartford has signed a development agreement with the developers of a long-awaited 126-unit apartment and retail community at the corner of Park and Main streets.
The agreement, signed in late December, lays out various economic, local hiring and affordable-housing requirements that Spinnaker Real Estate Partners, of South Norwalk, and Hartford’s Freeman Cos., must adhere to in constructing two buildings worth $26 million on a pair of vacant, city-owned properties just south of downtown, officials say.
The city council approved the development agreement and ground lease for the project almost a year ago.
Developers hope to break ground on the project by the end of the first quarter or early second quarter, said Matthew Edvardsen, Spinnaker’s director of acquisitions and asset management. Apartments in phase one of the mixed-use project could be completed in just nine months, Edvardsen said.
Market demand has encouraged the developers to swap proposed two-bedroom units with more studios and one-bedroom units, Edvardsen said. That change has increased the development’s proposed residential footprint from 108 units to 126 units.
Plans show the two buildings including 90,000 square feet of residential space with 18 studios, 84 one-bedroom and 24 two-bedroom units. Another 20,000 square feet will be used for retail space and a 9,000-square-foot rooftop lounge is also planned for the building fronting Park Street. A surface parking lot with 125 spaces will be located behind the buildings.
The developers say they have not yet marketed the proposed commercial and retail space, which have been pitched as ideal landing spots for restaurants and a convenience store, among other potential uses.
The city originally selected Hartford nonprofit CIL as the overseer of the redevelopment project.
However, the city and the developer were unable to agree on a construction timeline and other financial terms, and the city in Aug. 2018 ended up selecting Spinnaker and Freeman Cos. to take over the project after a competitive bidding process.