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CT Construction Digest Wednesday March 15, 2023

Port Authority announces completion of State Pier delivery berth

Greg Smith

New London ― The Connecticut Port Authority reached a milestone last month with the completion of one of two delivery berths at State Pier, which means incoming vessels carrying offshore wind turbine components will be able to offload their cargo at the pier.

The wind turbines are expected to arrive next month. They are associated with the ongoing work at South Fork Wind, a 12-turbine wind farm 35 miles east off Montauk Point that will supply power to an estimated 70,000 homes in East Hampton, N.Y. on Long Island.

The delivery berth is a heavy-lift platform on the northeast side of the newly-expanded State Pier facility in New London that officials have said will handle the weight of the offshore wind turbine components and the cranes needed to off load them.

Other parts of State Pier remain under construction, delayed by supply chain issues and a series of obstacles impeding the driving of piles at the site. Dredging, for example, is expected to resume in the fall.

South Fork Wind is a 130-megawatt wind farm developed by the Eversource and Danish company Orsted, which have so far contributed $77.5 million dollars towards the $255.5 million State Pier project.

South Fork Wind is just one of three projects by Eversource/Orsted expected to use State Pier for staging and assembly. The others are the larger 704-megawatt Revolution Wind and 924-megawatt Sunrise Wind projects.

Revolution Wind is providing 304 megawatts to Connecticut and 400 megawatts to Rhode Island, in total producing enough to electricity to power an estimated 350,000 homes. Sunrise Wind is projected to power 600,000 homes in New York.

The final price of the ongoing construction at State Pier, which has risen from $93 million to $255.5 million, had been an ongoing source of controversy and is not yet known. Connecticut Port Authority Executive Director Ulysses Hammond, at the port authority’s meeting in February, said there are ongoing negotiations about costs with the construction administrator AECOM, construction manager Kiewit, Orsted/Eversource and terminal operator Gateway.

Gateway is scheduled to take over terminal operations next month.

In a statement to The Day, Matthew Satnick and Philippe DeMontigny, co-CEOs of Enstructure, Gateway's parent company, said it is expected to begin operations at State Pier on April 21.

As port operators, Gateway we will be responsible for activities that will include unloading wind turbine components from delivery vessels and, once assembled, loading wind turbines onto specialized vessels that will install those turbines offshore.

“We will also be responsible for a wide range of other support functions that will take place at State Pier, such as moving components and equipment within the port, warehousing, security and terminal upkeep,” Satnick and DeMontigny said in the statement.

Gateway is in the process of finalizing agreements with the International Longshoremen's Association to support work at the site and working with wind-engineering company Siemens Gamesa to prepare for the first delivery vessel which is scheduled to arrive on April 26.

Hammond, in a statement, called the completion of the northeast bulkhead a “seminal milestone” in the effort to upgrade State Pier into a “modern marine terminal.”

Norwich, New London, Preston to receive $19 million in state grants

Claire Bessette and Johana Vazquez

A second Norwich business park, a New London community center and improvements to Poquetanuck Village in Preston were the recipients of $19 million in state grants Tuesday through the Community Investment Fund 2030.

The local approvals were among 28 grants totaling $98.5 million approved by the Community Investment Fund Board Tuesday and will be forwarded to the State Bond Commission for approval.

Gov. Ned Lamont created the fund with $875 million to be allocated over 10 years to 55 qualifying municipalities, including Norwich, New London, Groton, Ledyard and Montville. The fund is designed to boost economic development and fund capital projects in traditionally under-served communities across the state.

The Norwich Community Development Corp. received the second-largest overall grant with $11.3 million to fund 2,700 feet of a new access road into the 384-acre second business park in Occum. NCDC President Kevin Brown said the money will pay to build the road and install utilities from Route 97 near the Interstate 395 Exit 18 ramp to an intersection with Canterbury Turnpike.

NCDC also has applied for a $15.9 million federal U.S. Department of Transportation grant to develop the road, including a proposed dedicated off ramp from Exit 18 into the business park.

Brown called the CIF approval “a big lift” to get the so-called Business Park North off the ground. NCDC purchased the 17 parcels in the Occum area that run north of I-395 in Occum in December for $3.55 million. Neighbors have objected to the proposed business park master plan, which was defeated by the City Council in February, but the land already is zoned for commercial and planned development.

“Now that we have an entitled, zoned, owned and funded piece of terrain, we need to start aggressively, actively marketing it,” Brown said. “We wanted to be able to deliver the first parcel in the last quarter of 2024. Certainly, this helps give that impetus.”

Brown and Norwich Mayor Peter Nystrom thanked local legislators who supported NCDC’s application and helped create the fund financially needy municipalities.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity for our city, for our tax base, job growth and help us answer the question: ‘how do we pay for our schools?’” Nystrom said, “because they are linked. I hope people understand that.”

Neighbors vehemently opposed the business park master plan ultimately rejected by the City Council. State Rep. Derell Wilson, D-Norwich, a former alderman, said in a news release that he supported the CIF grant for the business park road for economic development and to attract investment in the city.

Wilson urged city officials to continue to work with the neighbors “to build a park that works for all.”

State Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, whose district includes Norwich, said the new business park is needed to expand the Norwich tax base and bring in new jobs.

“We've seen our old manufacturing facilities, mills, turned into housing, which we need,” Osten said in the news release. “Now we need new, modern facilities for new, modern manufacturing.”

New London grant completes funding for community center

New London is to receive $7.2 million from the investment fund for the construction of a projected $40 million community center at Fort Trumbull. The long-awaited center will offer a space for recreational activities; rooms for educational and community use; and house the city's recreation and youth affairs departments.

The city already had $35 million for the project, including the $30 million bond approved previously by the City Council, federal American Rescue Plan Act funds and state grants. In January, the city approved the project’s first contract totaling $30 million for infrastructure costs but doubt remained on where the remaining funds for the overall project would come from.

Felix Reyes, director of the city’s Office of Development and Planning, said the project is now fully funded, but the city will continue to raise funds to leverage the bond money. He said the $7.2 million grant will go towards the construction of the project.

Reyes said as someone who grew up in the city, the community center is easily one of the greatest projects in his professional career. He said as a director the hardest part was keeping up with the rising costs of the project due to inflation. For the past two years, the city worked to keep the budget for the building at $30 million.

New London’s Democrat state legislators, Sen. Martha Marx, D-New London, and state Reps. Christine Conley, D-Groton, and Anthony Nolan, D-New London, issued a press release Tuesday celebrating the approval of funds.

"It's wonderful to hear that the Community Investment Fund is supporting this important project, which is going to benefit the entire New London community," Marx said in the release. "A new and improved home for recreational and youth affairs’ needs is going to allow many more residents access to helpful resources.”

Mayor Michael Passero said he is grateful to the local delegation for working hard on this and for all the support from Hartford, specifically from Gov. Ned Lamont, Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz and state Sen. Martin Looney, D-New Haven.

“People in the city have been without an indoor recreation facility since the early 1980s when the YCMA pulled out,” Passero said. “A pool, a gymnasium, this facility will provide the community with indoor recreation we’ve been lacking.”

Passero said contractors are currently working on preparing the site and are waiting for a final state environmental permit to start construction. The building is expected to be finished in November 2024.

Preston grant to design Poquetanuck Village plan

Preston town officials were excited to learn the town received approval for a $400,000 grant to pay for design and engineering work for the planned Poquetanuck Village traffic calming project. The plan calls for creating a village atmosphere for the historic section of town now used as a speedway between routes 2 and 12.

Preston has received preliminary approval for a $3 million Local Transportation Capital Improvements Program grant for construction of the proposed improvements, but lacked the funding for design and engineering work.

“It seems like everything is lining up for this project to happen so that it will have no impact on the local taxpayers,” Town Planner Kathy Warzecha said Tuesday.

The project will connect Preston Community Park, the Tri-Town Trail off Route 117 and Poquetanuck Village. The main plan includes a 10-foot-wide pedestrian/bicycle path through the park that would connect to a 5-foot-wide new sidewalk through the village along Route 2A, with period lighting and decorative signage. Lined crosswalks are planned at certain spots on Route 2A.

The road itself will be narrowed to slow traffic. A large square with a different pavement material and color, is planned in the roadway at the Schoolhouse Road intersection to call attention to the busy intersection. Flashing caution signs are planned to warn drivers of the village crosswalks and intersections.

First Selectwoman Sandra Allyn-Gauthier thanked the town, Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments and state legislators for helping secure the grant.

“It’s nice when all the pieces to the puzzle come together,” Allyn-Gauthier said. “A lot of hard work went into this.”

State Sen. Heather Somers, R-Groton, whose district includes Preston, said the Poquetanuck Village project received widespread support from the town, the Mohegan and Mashantucket tribes, the Tri-Town Trail Association and local business owners and residents.

Somers said the project, “will help Preston realize its vision for a safer, more walkable village.”

No room for south Stamford K-8 building: District decides to split new school into 2 campuses 

Ignacio Laguarda


STAMFORD — School and city officials failed to find a spot in south Stamford for a new K-8 school, so they settled on splitting it into two locations

On Monday night, Superintendent Tamu Lucero hosted a virtual public meeting about the proposed new school — to be split between a new school building at the current location of K.T. Murphy Elementary School and a building at 83 Lockwood Ave. that used to house Rogers Magnet Elementary School.

Judging from the few people who spoke, there was enthusiasm for the planned developments.

"It’s really exciting," said Lizzy Kmetzo, whose son will be able to attend the new dual-campus school once it is open.

Officials have long discussed opening a new school in the under-served portion of the city south of Interstate 95, but finding a spot with enough space for a K-8 school proved challenging. 

Initially, city and school officials had studied Cove Island Park as the potential home for a south Stamford school, but that plan was quickly abandoned after swift opposition from local residents and the Audubon Society, all of which sought to maintain the park. 

The Lockwood facility was not considered at first because school administrators said they had hoped to convert that space into a pre-school facility to house about 675 students, a project that would have cost roughly $51.7 million. They submitted that proposal to the state and were told the state would reimburse 20 percent of the cost. But officials withdrew the project once it became clear that federal dollars would not be available to help fund it.

Currently, the 100,000-square-foot building at 83 Lockwood Ave. houses the Children’s Learning Centers of Fairfield County pre-school program and the nonprofit Domus Kids, which runs a number of programs inside the structure.

The plan is to start construction on a K-4 school at the Lockwood site in the summer of 2025, with an expected opening for the 2028-29 school year. Students from Murphy and fifth-grade students would be moved to the new facility that school year.

Construction on a new Murphy school would begin in the summer of 2028 at the current site, with the new building opening in 2030 as a school for students from fifth to eighth grade. At that time, the Lockwood building would eliminate its fifth grade.

The Lockwood location is proposed to have 590 students, while the new K.T. Murphy would have enough room for 475 students.

The locations are about a mile apart, but Lucero said they would operate as one school, with students transitioning from one to the other. She described the concept as "one school, two campuses."

Lucero said there have even been discussions to make it easier to get from one of the locations to the other.

“We talked about 'should there be a shuttle bus that goes back and forth?'” she said. 

Building on both locations could prove to be challenging, however, because of limited space.

"These are two very interesting properties because they don’t have a lot of land on them, so we have to decide how high are we going to build them, where can we create some outdoor space," Lucero said.

Students who would attend the proposed split K-8 would come from the current Murphy and Toquam Magnet Elementary School attendance zones. Toquam is expected to shutter in 2030, when the school at the Murphy site opens.

The work is part of a 20-year master plan that would include improvements to all schools and would call for building or expanding four schools, including the proposed south Stamford K-8. As part of the plan, four schools would shutter: Cloonan and Dolan middle schools, Toquam and Murphy.

Toquam currently is a magnet that takes students from outside of its attendance zone, but under the proposed change, only students from the Toquam district would attend the new south side school, which would not operate as a magnet school, Lucero said.

A proposal for the two Cove schools will go to the state this summer. Local officials will know by December if they will receive state funding, which would be a reimbursement rate of 60 percent.

“It is really up to everyone to not just think about what we want these schools to be designed for today but what we want them to look like in the future," Lucero said.

Shelton 129-unit apartment project on Canal Street nears approval

Brian Gioiele

SHELTON — Plans to construct of an apartment building at the end of Canal Street may be nearing approval. 

The Planning and Zoning Commission, at its meeting last week, asked zoning staff to prepare a favorable resolution for Cedar Village at The Locks, Don Stanziale, Jr.’s plan to develop a four-story building on property known as the Ascom Hasler site. Cedar Village would have 129 apartments and 1,745 square feet of retail space.  

The commission will vote on Stanziale’s proposed development at 287 Canal St. at a future meeting. 

“Hopefully the commission and Shelton likes our project, and we are looking forward to starting as soon as we are getting approved,” said Stanziale, a Shelton resident and owner of Midland Development & Contracting known for developing Cedar Village at Carroll’s on Howe Avenue. 

Commissioners did voice concern about the amount of parking proposed. In the plans, Stanziale stated that he has proposed 187 spaces. 

He has since told the commission he has an agreement with John Watts — owner of the former Ascom Hasler site — to purchase the land across the street for at least 24 spots. 

“This would be for visitors of the apartments or people visiting the locks,” Stanziale added. 

An alternative place for extra parking, he added, would be the left side of the building over the lower parking area adjacent to the locks. 

Stanziale’s latest parking plans were enough to allay commissioner’s fears about a lack of parking at the end of Canal Street. 

Stanziale told the commissioners during the public hearing process his plans for the end of Canal Street call for him to complete the Riverwalk and create a seating area for people to enjoy looking over the Shelton canal locks and the Housatonic River. The new building would have views of the river.  

The land sits at the north end of Canal Street. The city is in the initial stages of planning for an environmental restoration of that area, and Stanziale said his development would fit in well, as he plans to create an open space area with tables and seating.  

The proposed building will include 40 studios, 77 one-bedrooms and 12 two-bedroom units, and the top floor would feature three outside deck areas, one which will be covered – to allow for viewing of the river.  

The retail space will be a convenience store that would also offer assortments of things like coffee and ice cream. The site would be “self-ran,” Stanziale said.  

This site has environmental issues, much like all the old industrial sites along Canal Street. During a previous Shelton Economic Development Corp. meeting, SEDC President Paul Grimmer said most of the issues reside inside the building, such as lead and asbestos contamination. 

New Milford to borrow $15M to repair roads, roofs. These streets, buildings are first on the list

Sandra Diamond Fox

NEW MILFORD — The town plans to borrow up to $10 million to repair roads and up to $5 million to fix roofs on several schools and municipal buildings over the next few years. 

By June 30, 2024, the town aims to repair Candlewood Lake Road North, Buckingham Road, Big Bear Hill Road and Little Bear Hill Road, officials said. That work will cost around $2.5 million. For roof repair, Hill & Plain and Northville Elementary Schools are on the list. 

Public Works Director Jack Healy said the town prioritizes roads based on the level of repair needed.

"We go out and we evaluate the road. We score it, we debate back and forth on it. We meet monthly with the Municipal Roads Committee," he said during Monday's Town Council meeting, when the borrowing was unanimously approved. "It's a team effort to get to that."

He added every 20 years the town will start to go back over the roads to see if they're again in need of repair.

"We're up around 40 miles of reclaimed roads. When we do a reclaim, we put new pipes, drainage — the whole thing," he said.

The road work involves chip sealing, milling and putting new gravel down on dirt roads. It will begin when the asphalt plants open at the end of March, said Mayor Pete Bass, adding everything in regard to outside work is weather dependent.

"So if you have a week's worth of rain, you're gonna have to extend the project for another week," he said.

To report a road issue, visit New Milford’s public works department’s website, FixNewMilford.com. People may take pictures of potholes and report them on the SeeClickFix app system. The town posts road updates and work projects on the New Milford Public Works Facebook Page.

Roof repair

Bass said the roofs on Hill & Plain and Northville Elementary Schools are at the end of their life. He said roofs typically have a life span of 20 years.

The roofs at The Maxx, an event and party rental space on Railroad Street, and John Pettibone Community Center, on Pickett District Road, are also being considered for repair.

Additionally, Bass said the town's Board of Education is handing over East Street School to the town, and the town will get an assessment of that school's roof, as well as the roofs of all other town buildings.

He said the town wants to make sure its buildings are as safe and up-to-date as possible.

"Then what happens is it becomes more of a maintenance cost versus a full repair cost," Bass said. 

He added the town is in the "initial phase" of roof repair and before anything is solidified, the town needs to meet with engineers and the education board. It's too early to determine a cost for the projects.

The town will not borrow the full $15 million all at once, but sought authorization for the full amount so it doesn't have to go through the costly and time consuming approval process again.

"This sets the table for when we go to actually do repairs, when we get the quotes in and things like that," said Gregory Osipow, the town's finance director. "What we typically do is get authorization in an amount larger than what we actually need at that point in time so we don't have to keep going through this process on a continuous basis. The authorization is in perpetuity until executed."

Lab Builder Buys ​“10th Sq.” Corner For $10M+


A North Carolina-based real estate developer has purchased the southwest corner of the ex-Coliseum site for over $10.6 million — furthering an already-city-approved plan to build up that part of the property into a new 11-story lab and office building.

According to the city’s online land records database, on March 8, a holding company called Ancora 265 S. Orange Holdings LLC bought a 0.78-acre surface parking lot at the corner of South Orange Street and North Frontage Road from a holding company called 275 Orange Phase 1‑C LLC for a total of $10,681,750.

The seller of that property is an affiliate of Spinnaker Real Estate Partners, the Norwalk-based firm that is overseeing the broader redevelopment of the former Coliseum site into hundreds of new apartments, parking spaces, and shops as part of a project called ​“Square 10.”

The buyer of the property is an affiliate of Ancora, a Durham, N.C.-based science-focused real estate developer.

The sale comes roughly a month and a half after Spinnaker affiliates won site plan approval from the City Plan Commission for Phases 1B and 1C as well as an amendment to their already-approved Phase 1A development proposals. In all, those three subphases should see the construction of 320 new apartments, a new 657-space parking garage, a new 11-story lab and office building, a retail ​“laneway,” and a new public plaza at the 4.5‑acre block bounded by Orange Street, George Street, State Street and MLK Boulevard.

“This letter confirms our plan and process towards the development of Parcel 1C (265 South Orange St.) as a lab and supporting office building, with accompanying amenities and access to the adjoining parking garage being constructed separately on Parcel 1B,” Ancora founder and CEO Josh Parker wrote to Spinnaker VP Frank Caico, according to a Feb. 28 letter filed on the city’s land records database in conjunction with this latest property deal. 

Parker also write in that letter that the ​“equity for the project,” which should begin construction this summer, comes in large part thanks to an ownership interest that the British financial services giant Legal & General (L&G) has in Ancora.

“The project has been reviewed and approved by the Ancora L&G Investment Committee, and the company’s leadership remains supportive of the project,” Parker wrote. ​“Specifically, approval has included closing on the land acquisition of Parcel 1C and spending the necessary capital to advance the project to GMP and construction readiness. Construction is projected to begin this summer.”

According to a City Plan Department staff report, the site plan approval granted by the City Plan Commission in January for Phase 1C of the Coliseum redevelopment was for a new 213,635 square-foot building to be constructed atop a 0.78-acre site bounded by South Orange Street to the west, North Frontage Road to the south, the Phase 1B parcel to the east, and the retail laneway to the north. The new building will be 183 feet tall, consisting of nine stories and two floors of ​“mechanic penthouse.” ​“The remainder of the building will be laboratory and office space including amenity space for the tenants, a loading dock and loading spaces, mechanical rooms, and south-facing terraces on the second through ninth floors.”

The approved site plan includes no on-site parking for the site. Instead, 300 parking spaces in the to-be-built Phase 1B garage will be provided for this new lab and office building.

In a Monday morning phone interview with the Independent, Spinnaker CEO Clay Fowler said that this Phase 1C property sale — and Ancora’s plan to build a new lab and office tower at that site — fit within ​“our initial vision for the project,” as well as within a ​“biotech cluster” that is a ​“sector that New Haven is particularly good at.”

“We’re really pleased. We think we have a great partner in Ancora. They’re incredibly well funded by one of the largest insurance companies in England,” Fowler said.

He said that this property sale ​“gives us momentum with the rest of the vision for the project,” including the 200 new apartments already under construction as part of Phase 1A.

Does this sale change Spinnaker’s involvement in the other phases of the ex-Coliseum site’s redevelopment?

“No,” Fowler said. ​“We just thought they were a great partner. We’re not an expert in life sciences. These folks bring the appropriate tools to the project.”

Does this sale help at all with the overall financing for the ex-Coliseum redevelopment, given how rising interests rates have made it more difficult in recent months to borrow money for new construction projects?

“Not really,” Fowler said. He noted that his company is ​“clearly underway on the first apartment project” as part of Phase 1A. ​“But, with a large user next to us, I think the market gets a little bit better, the prospects of of being able to tell the story of growth is much more evident.” This sale ​“does not counteract financing rates,” he repeated, ​“but it does make our story more easily told.”

Stone Bridge Crossing project on Cheshire-Southington line moves forward

Peter Prohaska

CHESHIRE — Following the Planning and Zoning Commission’s Monday meeting, the project at Stone Bridge Crossing in Cheshire’s north end is one major step closer to breaking ground, signing tenants, and bringing new commercial energy to a property in town that has been mostly invasive weeds.

Despite clearing the regulatory hurdle, Cheshire developer Paul Bowman isn’t getting ahead of himself. Bowman, of Miller, Wolff, Napolitano LLC, says Monday night’s vote comes after “a long 20 years” of various efforts to transform several lots on the north end property into a complex that is now projected to feature a gas station and a convenience store, a hotel, a grocer, restaurants, and other anticipated retail uses, along with new housing already underway. Monday’s hearings focused mainly on lots on the eastern side of the property, along Route 10.

Bowman acknowledged the public curiosity about incoming stores but stated that the developers are still in a “blackout” period with prospective tenants. Still, Bowman said, “We’re well on our way,” following the PZC’s approval.

Commission members were largely enthusiastic in their comments following the public hearings on a series of applications, which did not draw any public input.

“Thank you for bringing this to the town. The conceptual drawings look wonderful. I think it’ll be a great addition and I expect we’re probably going to have an unanimous vote,” said PZC Vice Chair Jeff Natale, correctly predicting the outcome.

The evening’s subject matter was largely technical, even requiring a call to order of the Aquifer Protection Agency, part of the PZC. That application was done, according to project attorney Anthony Fazzone, “as a matter of caution.” The relevant statute, he explained, requires confirmation that there would be no “regulated” activity in the aquifer protection zone. Although part of the development crosses over the North Cheshire Aquifer, no such activity is planned. Fazzone stated that all relevant state and local authorities had been notified as necessary.

In a separate set of waiver applications, project engineer Darin Overton, of SLR Consulting, described some of the earthwork plans. In order to create a flat pad for the retail stores, the level of the development will be below the level of Route 10. The work will also involve disturbing more than five acres at a time, due to the scope of the project.

He added that the plan is to create a “gentle slope in order to avoid guardrails.” Overton explained that the state Department of Transportation had approved those plans and there is “no danger to the public.”

Bowman added that the developers are putting in a sidewalk along the east side of the project as well.

A concern about retail tenants requiring their own branded signage, which might be out of harmony with the architectural plans approved by the PZC, remained present. Bowman, stepping in for the project’s architect who could not attend, stressed that the plan would be for those tenants to strive for harmony with the site, while indicating that businesses often do require their own design for marketing purposes.

Town Planner Michael Glidden added that any “substantive changes” to the look or approved materials would require coming before the PZC again.

Commissioner Casey Downes inquired about the landscaping plans, suggesting that more native plants might be preferable. The development team indicated that they would be willing to consider that request.

In addition to the Stone Bridge Crossing discussion, the PZC addressed other business items during the March 13 meeting, including a request for a special permit to build a permanent structure to accommodate outdoor seating at Rose Dairy on South Main Street. Owner James Barbato explained that the pavilion-style roof, likely to include ceiling fans, would extend the popular spot’s season while making it accessible for guests in rain or hot sun.

Having received permission for variances from the Zoning Board of Appeals, and with no objection from neighbors, the PZC approved the special permit for the long-term fixture.

The PZC also moved to streamline the approval process for accessory or “in-law” apartments. Glidden informed members that in the unlikely case of a non-conforming use being brought to the planning office, staff would then inform the PZC. Glidden also reiterated that offering the administrative approval route means reducing to $50 the homeowner’s fee from the nearly $500 required to apply for a special permit .

The change, effective on April 1, also saves applicants and the PZC time on hearings which, once town staff has approved the plans, rarely results in public input or requires PZC clarification, commissioners stated.

As Natale commented during the discussion, “In all my years here, I don’t think we’ve ever denied one.”