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8/3/2015 - Mayor Finch urges city council to support new program for investors to clean up blighted properties

“In order to improve areas like the East Side by transforming the neighborhood into the job creating engine that it can be, we need to create quality housing while incentivizing developers to revitalize run down properties.” -- Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch

Bridgeport, Conn. (August 3, 2015) – Today, Mayor Bill Finch is urging the City Council to support a new program that will incentivize investors and developers to rehabilitate run down properties in the city.

The new program – titled the Enterprise Zone Ordinance – provides a seven year fiscal incentive for developers and investors to create jobs and rehab properties for owner occupancy.

“In order to improve areas like the East Side by transforming the neighborhood into the job creating engine that it can be, we need to create quality housing while incentivizing developers to revitalize run down properties,” said Mayor Finch.

“This program will help the East Side rehab blighted properties while creating jobs, and making our neighborhoods safer,” said Councilwoman Lydia Martinez. “It’s a win-win for the city.”

With the Enterprise Zone Ordinance, only contractors in Bridgeport can take advantage of the fiscal incentives, providing more development opportunities for Bridgeport residents and businesses.  

“I support this ordinance wholeheartedly because I feel it will restore a sense of pride and promote home ownership in our community,” said Aidee Neives, President of the East Side Neighborhood Revitalization Zone (NRZ). “This is a huge step in the right direction and will help promote self sufficiency.”

The proposed ordinance also requires that all work on the blighted or abandoned property be done in a timely fashion, without interruption or delay. It also states that properties must be owner-occupied or sold to owner-occupants.

“Taking on blighted properties is a priority for our city,” said Bridgeport Anti-Blight Director and State Representative Chris Rosario. “This measure is a great step toward a further revitalized Bridgeport.”

And, the Enterprise Zone Ordinance will only allow one-family, two-family or three-family structures to be built on these former blighted or abandoned properties.  

“This measure will improve our quality of life in the East Side and throughout Bridgeport,” said East Side Neighborhood Revitalization Zone (NRZ) member Guillermo Marin who came up with the idea for the new ordinance. “It helps out our city and its residents and will tackle blight head on.”   

Crescent Crossing

Mayor Finch is also asking the city council to table a full council vote on fiscal incentives associated with the development of Phase II for Crescent Crossing, which is a job creating project on the city’s East Side that will result in new quality apartments at Monday evening’s council meeting.

“Crescent Crossing is a tremendous project that will create jobs and bring new high-quality apartments to a parcel that has been neglected and off of the tax rolls for decades,” said Mayor Finch. “But we want to ensure measures that complement one another can pass together whenever it makes sense. That’s why I’m asking council members to consider tabling the Crescent Crossing measure in order to wait until it can be voted on with the Enterprise Zone Ordinance.”

Crescent Crossing will be a privately developed, mixed-income community located in the City’s East Side between Waterview Avenue and Hallett Street.

The location for the Crescent Crossing job creating project has a storied history.

It once served as home to Father Panik Village, which was built to replace shanties for factory workers, and housed nearly 5,000 people in 46 three-story buildings spread over 40 acres after opening in 1941 (LA Times, 1/9/1994).

But in 1986, due to crime and drug trafficking getting out of control at the site, the city decided it could not be saved and began knocking down buildings. By the fall of 1994, workers began demolishing the last 15 buildings (LA Times, 1/9/1994).

The land has been readied for development for more than a decade, however, it became entangled in a corruption scandal in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Former Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim entered into a ‘pay-to-play’ deal with two contractors -- Alfred Lenoci Jr. and Alfred Lenoci Sr. -- to develop the land in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars in kickbacks and a $35,000 worth of free construction on his house. The two contractors and former Mayor Ganim served federal prison time related to the scandal (Hartford Courant, 2/19/2003).

But with the city now moving in the right direction, Crescent Crossing is a great opportunity to create jobs and high-quality apartments on the site.