By LISA CAPOBIANCO
After trying to develop the 15-acre former mall site downtown for six years, Renaissance Downtowns has ended its contract with the city.
In a letter addressed to the Bristol Downtown Development Corporation and the city of Bristol on Nov. 13, the attorney representing the Long Island-based firm stated it Renaissance ended its contract for a variety of reasons, including the “inability of the parties involved to agree on an overall strategy of the development that would allow for a creation of a vibrant, walkable downtown area.”
Under the seventh amendment that was added to the contract with Renaissance last December, there was “unilateral termination rights” of any party if the conditions of submitting a financing plan were not met, said BDDC chairperson Jennifer Arasimowicz during a BDDC meeting held last Monday. Under this amendment, Renaissance had an extended deadline of June 30. After failing to meet this new deadline, Renaissance was no longer the preferred developer of the downtown site, where it proposed to bring a four story, mixed-use building fronting Main Street and Riverside Avenue, along with 100 market rate housing units as well as over 20,000 square feet of retail space and a public Piazza.
Arasimowicz said Renaissance had ended its contract after it was not able “to provide financing or get financing and submit a financing, development and leasing plan to the board.”
“This board never did receive a financing, development and leasing plan that it could act upon,” said Arasimowicz. “I look forward to moving forward now…figuring out what’s next and putting something really terrific [downtown].”
During the meeting, Bristol resident Rich Kilby said now that the city is starting over to revitalize downtown, the BDDC should “take it really slow” moving forward to ensure what the residents of Bristol want.
John Lodovico, one of the longest-serving members on the BDDC, said it is unfortunate what happened with Renaissance. He commended the former preferred developer for bringing positivity to Bristol, especially when the crowd-sourced place making community group called Bristol Rising emerged in the city, attracting hundreds of local residents to join its mission in helping create a vibrant, walkable, and safe downtown Bristol.
“It’s a little sad we had to come to this point after so many years of trying,” said Lodovico, adding that the Great Recession created a difficult climate for Renaissance to meet its deadline. “But to their credit, Renaissance… did bring in Bristol Rising—I don’t think Bristol has seen anything like that before in at least all the years I lived here my whole life.”
Source: Bristol CT Open Government Project)
By LISA CAPOBIANCO