“The people of Bridgeport can now get access to the waterfront that they have been long denied. And in the process we’re creating thousands of new jobs in the city.” – Mayor Bill Finch
Bridgeport, Conn. (July 23, 2015) – Today, Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch broke ground on the Harbor Walk at the new Steelpointe Harbor development site, which will serve as a beautiful waterfront park on the 52-acre peninsula off the Long Island Sound.
The Harbor Walk will be the largest waterfront park project in Bridgeport’s history, creating public access to the waterfront for residents, spurring job creation and economic development, and providing residents with another park in the Park City.
“The people of Bridgeport can now get access to the waterfront that they have been long denied,” said Mayor Bill Finch.
“And in the process we’re creating thousands of new jobs in the city.”
The groundbreaking on the Harbor Walk also triggers the start of demolition of the final two buildings that still exist from the old Steel Point era.
And, it also marks the beginning of new bulkheads – sea walls that serving as the greatest protection against storms and flooding – being installed along the coastline.
In addition, work will now start on raising land along the coastline from its current 6 feet up to 14 feet, which will further protect the peninsula from hurricanes and flooding.
“This is a monumental milestone in the future of Steelpointe,” said Economic Development Director David Kooris.
“Taking a peninsula that has been cut off from the East Side and from residents of the city for generations and turning it back to the public. Reopening it for walking, for boating, and for recreation. But, most importantly, laying the foundation for the jobs, the investment, and the economic activity that will be built on that waterfront.”
The Harbor Walk and bulkhead at Steelpointe Harbor are beginning in part because of a recent investment of $9 million from the state.
Once complete, Steelpointe Harbor will be a 2-million-square-foot superregional waterfront destination.
It will feature more than 750,000 square feet of retail, restaurants and entertainment, a 12-screen premium theater, two hotels, 1,100 mid-and-high rise residential units, 30,000 square feet of office and a 200-slip, full service, deep water marina.
Steelpointe Harbor also is the only mixed-use development in the state of Connecticut that includes Long Island in its trade area.
That is achieved thanks to the presence of the Bridgeport-Long Island Ferry, a year-round ferry service operated by the Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat Company.
The ferry, which provides 10-20 daily round-trip runs for vehicles, passengers and freight across Long Island Sound between Bridgeport and Port Jefferson, services 800,000 passengers annually.
The company will soon be relocating its Connecticut terminal to a site immediately adjacent to the eastern edge of the project, which is expected to increase its ridership to more than 1.4 million passengers annually in the next few years.
History of Steel Point and the Steelpointe Harbor development
Steel Point – now home to the Steelpointe Harbor development – is a peninsula ringed by waterfront along Yellow Mill Channel and the Pequonnock River with the Long Island Sound on its southern edge and I-95 and the city’s East Side on the north end.
Shipbuilding began on the banks of this area in the early 1700’s.
Around the 1770’s, a wharf and store were built in this location. And in the late 1800’s, the peninsula was booming with commerce.
From 1985-89, with Thomas Bucci as mayor, a new feasibility study of Harbor Pointe was ordered. But ongoing uncertainty about UI's plans for its Steel Point power plant, and an impending financial crisis in the city combined to halt progress.
Once the economy began to rebound nationally and locally in the mid-1990’s, the development name changed from Harbor Pointe to make way for the $1 billion Harbor Place.
In June, 1998, the state bonding commission approved an initial $20 million in public financing, which was to be used to acquire, clear and remediate Steel Point and to construct utilities and bulkheads. But due to corruption scandals, the project stalled.
“One of the biggest setbacks [in developing Steel Point] was a scandal involving former Mayor Joseph Ganim, who was convicted in 2003 on 16 charges that included receiving about $500,000 in bribes and kickbacks,” stated the Wall Street Journal.
“According to federal prosecutors, a group of developers promised to raise $500,000 for Mr. Ganim's anticipated gubernatorial campaign in exchange for allowing them to develop Steel Point.”
After taking office in 2003, Mayor John Fabrizi attracted a new developer and jump-started long-stalled negotiations to acquire critical property on the harbor.
The biggest strides in the project have been made under the leadership of Mayor Finch. Since taking office in 2007, the project has advanced significantly.
After taking office, Mayor Finch decided to address redevelopment of Steel Point, Steelpointe Harbor, in four development phases.
The $50 million first phase of Steelpointe Harbor, which includes Bass Pro Shops, Starbucks, Chipotle and T-Mobile is currently underway and will open this year.
Construction on the Cinepolis movie theater and other components of the second phase will begin in 2016 with an anticipated opening in 2017.
Dredging work on the Bridgeport Harbor is also now finally moving forward with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers developing the plan.
“The project, which goes back 15 years, initially halted amid the corruption scandal that led to the indictment of Joseph P. Ganim, the former mayor who served seven years in prison,” stated the Connecticut Post.
The dredging work that is moving forward at Bridgeport Harbor for the first time in a half-century – once complete – will bring in more commerce, more large employers, and more jobs to the city – once complete.
For more information, please contact Brett Broesder at (203) 257-1049 or firstname.lastname@example.org.