‘No go’ on planned outlet shops at Rentschler Field

EAST HARTFORD – The planned outlet shops at Rentschler Field have been put on hold just two weeks before a groundbreaking ceremony was scheduled.

Mayor Marcia LeClerc said the developer, Horizon Group Properties, contacted her Thursday and said the project was $10 million short. Unless the town comes up with a different plan, the mayor said the project is dead.

“I don’t want to focus on the negativity of it. I want to focus on us moving forward. East Hartford has a lot to offer and we want to get our name back out there that the property is available. This is private property, it’s Pratt and Whitney and United Technologies property,” said LeClerc.

Horizon called the mayor Thursday and notified her of the decision to pull the plug on the project.

“Because of the retail environment, the finance here wanted additional money from him to put into the project,” said LeClerc.

She added the Town of East Hartford offered $16 million in tax abatements with the addition of $12 million from the state and $6 million from United Technologies.

LeClerc said the $12 million from the state will go back to the Capitol Region Development Authority.

“They were going to be flying in early next week to start to break that property down,” said LeClerc.

That is bad news for Christopher Costello, who owns Augie and Ray’s on Main Street.  He was hoping the shops would bring his restaurant more business.

“Well, not only as a business perspective, I think it would bring a lot of people into the town and hopefully to the restaurant. I mean, I think it would be cool to be able to go to the shops and shop around and stuff like that. It seems like something I can bring the family to,” said Costello.

Former East Hartford resident David Daigle now lives in South Windsor, but he said he still goes to Rentschler Field for football games all the time. It is the same area where the shops would have been built.

“Well, I would think it’s probably less revenue some ways and maybe less attraction. If you don’t like football, you probably wouldn’t go to that particular area anymore,” said Daigle.

The shops were supposed to open by November of 2018. So far, the mayor said there are no meetings scheduled with Horizon and crews are expected to be back on site Monday to unwind the project.