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Talks Start On Public Funds For Complex

August 11, 2006
By JEFFREY B. COHEN, Courant Staff Writer

The developer of a proposed high-end condominium and apartment complex on the site of the YMCA building on Hartford's Bushnell Park has begun discussions with the city to secure public financing for the roughly $110 million project, city officials said.

The discussions are preliminary, but the level of financing could be somewhere between $5 million and $10 million, city officials said.

"We've been talking in general terms about the project and what it might need," said John F. Palmieri, the city's director of development services.

Lawrence R. Gottesdiener, whose company, Northland Investment Corp., owns more than $500 million in downtown real estate, has said he wants to knock down the YMCA building and replace it with 200 condos and 100 apartments.

The YMCA, which has agreed to sell its real estate to Northland, has already moved most of its operations from the Jewell Street facility to other locations around the city.

On Thursday, the Hartford Redevelopment Agency took the first step in the funding process, approving an official redevelopment plan for the site - a statutory requirement for the type of financing deal the developer is seeking.

That deal is called a "tax increment financing" plan. Under such a plan, the city agrees to borrow a fixed amount of money and contribute it toward the project. The city then uses the increased tax revenue generated by the project to pay back the loan.

The city did the same sort of deal for the Colt Gateway overhaul project, contributing $8 million to the roughly $110 million effort.

Typically, the city uses no more than 50 percent of the increased tax revenue for that purpose, officials said. But "I think it's fair to say that the developer, Northland, is going to ask for more than that, and we're willing to consider it," Palmieri said.

Officials at Northland were not available Thursday for comment.

In the next step of the process, the city council is scheduled to begin discussion Monday on whether to move forward with the plan approved by the redevelopment agency Thursday.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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