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5/13/2015 - Mayor Finch Announces New Movie Theatre, Cinépolis, Coming to Steelpointe Harbor

"This is great news, serving as further proof that Bridgeport is getting better every day. Steelpointe Harbor will create thousands of jobs and add millions to our tax rolls. It's the largest economic development project in Bridgeport since the Industrial Revolution. We're thrilled to have Cinépolis USA join several other top-notch companies at the Steelpointe Harbor waterfront development." – Mayor Bill Finch

Bridgeport, Conn. (May 13, 2015) – Today, Mayor Bill Finch announced that Cinépolis USA, a luxury cinema complex, will build a 50,000 square foot cinema at Bridgeport’s Steelpointe Harbor, projected to open in 2017. He was joined by former Bridgeport Mayor’s Leonard Paoletta, Tom Bucci, and John Fabrizi, as well as several other elected officials, community and business leaders, and trade union representatives.

"This is great news, serving as further proof that Bridgeport is getting better every day," said Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch. "Steelpointe Harbor will create thousands of jobs and add millions to our tax rolls. It's the largest economic development project in Bridgeport since the Industrial Revolution. We're thrilled to have Cinépolis USA join several other top-notch companies at the Steelpointe Harbor waterfront development."

Cinépolis Bridgeport marks Cinépolis USA’s debut into Connecticut. It also marks the introduction of the exhibitor’s second hybrid location with its offering of two unique auditorium concepts in one cinema, “Cinépolis Luxury Cinemas” and “Cinépolis.”

The theater’s five “Cinépolis Luxury Cinemas” auditoriums will offer guests a luxury movie-going experience with fully reclining leather seats and in-theater waiter service and dining with full bar, available at the touch of a button. Guests of the theater’s seven “Cinépolis” auditoriums will enjoy a premium theater experience with comfortable seating and access to the gourmet menu and full bar in the lobby area.

“Steelpointe Harbor is the perfect project to launch one of our first theaters in the Northeast,” said Neil Baron, Vice President of Real Estate, Cinépolis USA. “We take much pride in selecting the best locations when we introduce our theater concept to new markets.

The combination of great demographics, beautiful design, mix of uses and prime waterfront made Steelpointe Harbor extremely desirable to us.”

“This innovative theater concept will significantly elevate the cinema experience in Fairfield County,” said Douglas Jerum, Steelpointe Harbor leasing consultant made the announcement. “It’s an exciting entertainment component of the project that will be unlike anything available in the region today.”

History of Steel Point

Steel Point, now Steelpointe Harbor, 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 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.