“Developers are coming back to Bridgeport because they once again trust us to do the right thing. And, the state and federal government again are investing in our future, because they trust us to do the right thing. Look around. After years of broken promises, Bridgeport is in the midst of a major renaissance.” -- Mayor Bill Finch
Bridgeport, Conn. (July 17, 2015) – Today, Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, and U.S. Congressman Jim Himes announced the completion of the Transportation Investment Generation Economic Recovery (TIGER) Grant funded infrastructure work at Steelpointe Harbor.
“Developers are coming back to Bridgeport because they once again trust us to do the right thing. And, the state and federal government again are investing in our future, because they trust us to do the right thing,” said Mayor Bill Finch. “Look around. After years of broken promises, Bridgeport is in the midst of a major renaissance.”
Steelpointe received over $11 million through a TIGER Grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The funding, the largest federal grant Bridgeport had ever received, was instrumental for the construction and modernization of roadways around the Steel Point Peninsula to turn around an under-utilized brownfield site after decades of broken promises.
Congressman Himes said that Steelpointe had been a punch line across the state for decades. Now, he said, that’s completely changing.
Hundreds of workers are building a Bass Pro Shop, Starbucks, and Chipotle. And, hundreds and hundreds more Steelpointe Harbor workers will earn good paying, permanent jobs as more and more businesses open. And, hundreds of thousands of people will visit the waterfront development every year to shop here.
“I’m not a bass fisherman, but I’m told that it is practically a religion. People will come from 150 miles around to shop here,” Congressman Himes said. “They will have dinner here. They will see Bridgeport. They will spend their money in Bridgeport and this is how a renaissance happens.”
Senator Blumenthal applauded former-Mayor John Fabrizi’s dedication to the project, and Mayor Finch “for the vision, the courage, and the commitment to make it a reality.”
“There are a lot of people around the state who said Steelpointe will never happen. Never. Because folks have tried. Mayors have initiated all kinds of projects. They’ve talked big, and little has happened. Mayor Finch is making it happen,” said Sen. Blumenthal.
Steelpointe has 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 Cinépolis theater and other components of the second phase will begin in 2016 with an anticipated opening in 2017.
Once complete, Steelpointe Harbor will be a 2 million-square-foot superregional waterfront destination. Spanning 82 acres, 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.
More than 7 million people live within the project’s trade area. Steelpointe Harbor also boasts that it 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 service 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.
Also in attendance at Friday’s event were former Bridgeport Mayor John Fabrizi, Amy D. Jackson-Grove, Division Administrator for the U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway Administration, State Representatives Christopher Rosario and Ezequiel Santiago, City Council President Tom McCarthy, and City Council members Lydia Martinez, Michelle Lyons, AmyMarie Vizzo-Paniccia, and Melanie Jackson.
History of Steel Point
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. And 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.
The name “Steel Point” is derived from “Bridgeport Steel Works” that was at one time located at this site. And in 1888, former Bridgeport Mayor P.T. Barnum paraded dozens of elephants across one of the nation’s first iron bridges with an electric motor powering the draw, crossing from the Pequannock River to what is now where Fairfield Avenue meets Stratford Avenue, the main artery for Steelpointe Harbor.
In the 1900’s, Steel Point was home to marinas, homes, and shellfish businesses.
But in the early 1980’s, former Bridgeport Mayor Leonard Paoletta came up with the idea for redeveloping Steel Point, calling the development Harbor Pointe.
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. 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.”
The Hartford Courant added that the developer chosen by Mayor Ganim, Alex Conroy, sued the City of Bridgeport for breach of contract and unfair trade practices.
“This lawsuit came after Ganim, a five-term mayor, was convicted of 16 counts of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, extortion, mail fraud, bribery, conspiracy and filing false income tax returns,” said the Hartford Courant. “Conroy claimed Ganim repeatedly suggested that he team with United Properties - one of the firms from which Ganim was convicted of steering city contracts in return for $500,000 in favors. Conroy refused.”
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.
Once completed, Bridgeport Harbor, which has not been dredged since 1964, will bring in more commerce, more large employers, and more jobs to the city.
For more information, please contact Brett Broesder at (203) 257-1049 or firstname.lastname@example.org.