Condemners Still Coming Up $hort


Working on yesterday's New London, CT story, I made several attempts to confim with the New London Development Corporation that none of the revenue-generating parts of the Fort Trumbull development (hotel, condos, retail outfits) currently have any signed commitments for funding. Today I got a reply from John Brooks, development manager for the waterfront and Fort Trumbull:

The public access Fort Trumbull Riverwalk is complete (i.e. paid for). The funding came from two grants. More than $1 million in state funded Fort Trumbull Project funds were used for shoreline structural restoration and environmental remediation, as well as replacement of a 400′ long bulkhead (seawall). More than $500,000 in Maritime Heritage Park (state) funds were used for the installation of walkway, lighting, benches, etc.

Parcel 3A (Fort Trumbull Office Building Project) was ground leased to a private developer last December. This parcel (mostly former Navy land) and 88,000 sq. ft. building are now on the City's tax rolls. The building is under construction at the present time (exterior and interior repairs), and is being marketed for future tenants. City Planning & Zoning approval was obtained in late 2001.

Residences at Fort Trumbull (Parcel 2A, 2B and 2C) Project is pending approval at the City of New London Planning & Zoning Commission. These parcels (alll former Navy land) have been remediated, and are infrastructure ready for development. Funding for construction will be the responsibility of the private developer. Property will become taxable as of the date of the ground lease, which must be signed no later than construction start (anticipated next spring).

Hotel Project (Parcel 1B) design requires coordination with USCG Museum (Parcel 1A) design for parking, infrastructure easements and related issues. This coordination has been initiated, and will be ongoing during the next few months. Once these issues are resolved, hotel and museum designs will be presented to City Planning & Zoning for approval. Hotel project will be privately funded. Museum Project, as you noted, will have a mix of funds—federal, state and private. The federal legislation is in place (approximately $10 million). The "quiet phase" of a private capital campaign is now underway.

Parcels 1A and 1B are comprised primarily of three properties: former U.S. Navy (Undersea Warfare Center), a former oil terminal, a former Amtrak rail yard. All were heavily polluted. State funds were used for aquisition, environmental remediation, and installation of new infrastructure (streets, sidewalks and underground utilities). A $2 million Federal grant was applied to the infrastructure installation.

So there is no funding for the hotel, the condos, or the stores, but there is apparently a parcel leased to a private developer that is currently being taxed and developed. Everything else is coming from the state or the feds. Which, given the number of anti-eminent domain bills in Congress and state legislatures, raises a question: If politicians like Connecticut's Governor Jodi M. Rell are serious about wanting to keep people in their homes, wouldn't they be better off not giving millions of dollars to projects that involve forcible evictions? The way to end a problem is to stop funding it, yet so far the only entity that has taken this step is BB&T, a private bank holding company.

It would certainly be politically difficult for the Nutmeg State's executive to hold up funding now; people would ask why, after so many people have been kicked out of their homes, the state isn't stepping up to make it worth the trouble. But there's a simple answer: because as long as the state keeps the money coming, people will keep getting kicked out of their homes.