Unable To Resolve Deadline Issues, Company Announces Plan To Build Facility In Windsor
January 10, 2006
By DAN UHLINGER, Courant Staff Writer
Citing critical construction issues
and a pressing deadline, ING Group pulled the plug Monday on its
plan to move 2,000 workers from Hartford to a site at the $2 billion
development planned for Rentschler Field in East Hartford.
Instead, the Dutch financial services
conglomerate announced it would build a facility in Windsor and
still meet a key goal of state officials who wanted, at a minimum,
to keep the workers in Connecticut.
"The important thing is that ING
remains committed to Connecticut," Gov. M. Jodi Rell said.
"My office and our Department of Economic and Community Development
will continue to do everything we can to keep ING here and help
them grow and create more jobs."
Windsor officials said they were unaware
that ING decided recently to give up on Rentschler Field and obtain
an alternate site on Day Hill Road from a private company. ING would
not provide further details about the Windsor site, or whether the
company would meet a December 2007 deadline to relocate.
"Wow, this is good news, but I
never feel good about taking a business from another town,"
Windsor Mayor Donald Trinks said.
"We were very unaware of the decision
made today," Windsor Town Manager Peter Souza said. "This
is exciting for us and for all of Greater Hartford to be able to
The Matos Group, which is developing
Rentschler, and East Hartford officials expressed disappointment
with ING's decision, but said it would not affect the long-term
viability of the project.
"It's really not a setback,"
said Dan Matos, whose company was chosen by United Technologies
Corp. to develop its 650-acre tract where the University of Connecticut
football stadium is located.
"Rentschler is a project that
is going to move forward with the client we feel is the most important
- Cabela's, the country's largest direct marketer of outdoor merchandise,"
"There remains strong interest
from other financial and technological companies and we will continue
discussions with those companies," he said.
The original vision for Rentschler
called for a mixed-use development, including retail, but with the
main focus on research companies and not ING, Matos stressed.
"When ING became active in the
market the last couple years and there were limited options, the
state persuaded UTC and the Matos Group that it would be in the
area's best interest to work with ING," Matos said.
"We're very disappointed, but
we all tried very hard. The unfortunate truth is ING has a very
short window," he said. "It was a virtual impossibility
from the start that the parties could meet ING's schedule. But everyone
worked very hard to make it happen. We wish them well and we're
delighted they're staying in Connecticut. That was our goal."
Operating under a tight deadline, ING
announced in early August that it wanted to construct a four-story,
$90 million building at Rentschler. ING said its lease from Aetna
in Hartford would expire in December 2007 and it had to find a new
home for an estimated 2,000 workers.
Just days after the announcement, East
Hartford officials approved a tax abatement plan worth about $6.5
million for ING as an inducement to locate at Rentschler. State
development officials, ING and UTC then began negotiations on a
package of incentives to seal the deal.
The negotiations continued through
the end of 2005 but faltered. A source familiar with the negotiations
said an agreement had been reached on a financial package, but the
state could not give ING a guarantee that the new roads and infrastructure
at Rentschler could be built in time.
Phil Margolis, a spokesman for ING,
would not comment Monday on the specifics of the negotiations.
"The Rentschler Field development
is a large-scale economic development project. As is the case with
these complex projects, it has its own set of challenges to meet
before development can begin. Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful
in resolving critical, site-specific issues in order for us to move
forward within the time frame required to meet our corporate needs,"
Spokesmen for Rell and UTC also would
not comment on the negotiations.
"The UTC property at Rentschler
Field in East Hartford remains an important site for economic development
east of the Connecticut River, and we will continue to support every
effort to attract well-paying, satisfying jobs to that location,"
Paul Jackson, a UTC spokesman, said
all the parties involved worked diligently to iron out the issues
and UTC remained optimistic that the development would go forward,
but not at the pace that ING had hoped.
"ING had a very tight timetable.
And all the parties worked very hard to get it done in time,"
he said. "From our perspective, the overall plan remains on
track and we're very confident that it will continue."
East Hartford Mayor Melody Currey said
the town had done everything it could.
"We stepped up to the plate and
offered tax abatements. We're just victims of the times, of the
circumstances," she said.
Currey said other companies have contacted
officials about Rentschler.
"That's a big silver lining,"
Currey said. "This is not a death knell for our community.
It is the opening of doors for other opportunities."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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