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Rock Cats Stadium Developer Publicly Details Proposal

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DoNo Hartford LLC hopes to bring 1.5 million square feet of retail, restaurants and residences to the area of Main and Trumbull streets in Hartford. It would be a $350 million investment, but it depends on baseball, developer Yves Joseph told the city’s Operations, Management, Budget and Legislative Affairs Committee.

He and other speakers at Wednesday’s meeting advocated for the passage of city resolutions concerning the construction of a Hartford baseball stadium.

“The ballpark’s existence is what allows us to have confidence in taking the risk to make this development successful ultimately,” said Joseph, who is the vice president of development at Centerplan Development Company LLC, one of the groups that makes up DoNo North LLC.

He pointed to the track record of other DoNo Hartford LLC members, including the Leyland Alliance LLC’s Storrs Center near the University of Connecticut.

“It's a mixed use neighborhood with tremendous, successful retail that has delivered feet on the ground, which is one of the primary objectives of what we're trying to do in North Hartford,” said Joseph.

He told committee members that prospective retailers are already lining for the project, including two interested grocery chains.

Lisa Ham spoke on behalf of Wake Fern Food Corp, which represents Shop Rite.

“I’m very excited about this project. I'm excited about the mixed use component. We're excited about the ballpark and most importantly, excited about the prospect of bringing healthy foods to what we see as an underserved community,” Ham told the room.

Developers spoke about finances as well, which included 25 years of leasing payments for the baseball stadium. The city of Hartford would pay for that, developers said, through money made from renting the stadium to a minor league baseball team--likely the current New Britain Rock Cats--event parking, admission taxes, property taxes and more.

The monetary estimates didn't sit well with stadium opponents.

“The numbers are ever-changing. Actually, they've sent out three or four different revenue projection sheets in less than two weeks,” said Anne Goshdigian, the media coordinator for the Hartford Coalition to Stop the Stadium. “They haven't possibly had time to do real analysis on these projections.”

She and other opponents brought their skepticism to a public hearing that followed the DoNo Hartford LLC presentation.

“We want to see development on that spot, but we don't feel the stadium is a component that will return anything to the city that they're talking about,” Goshdigian said.

Several people attended the public hearing, speaking for and against the three resolutions before the committee. Those resolutions concerned the transfer of city land to DoNo Hartford LLC, the leasing of the proposed baseball stadium to the city of Hartford, and the subleasing of the proposed stadium to the Rock Cats.

Committee members were tasked with advancing those proposals to the City Council. They chose to keep the resolutions in committee until their next meeting, which will be held on Sept. 25 at 4 p.m.

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