Continuing the discussion from STAMFORD, CT. | Stamford Core Redevelopment:
Station Place Redevelopment (Manhattan Street, Station Place, Atlantic Street, Henry Street)
- Mix of Office, Commercial, Residential, Parking (Garage) space
- Combined Total of +1,000,000 sq ft of development
- Office/Hotel Complex: +600,000 sq ft,
- Metro Tower: 17 story office building
- Manhattan St Tower
- 150 room hotel, 150 residential units
- 11.5 story residential building (131 Units)
- 2.5 story residential building (24 Units)
- 60,000 sq ft street-level retail
- Total of 2,300 spaces between parking garages
- Developer: JHM Group of Companies, Malkin Properties, and Jonathan Rose Companies LLC
- $500M development
- Expected Groundbreaking: Mid 2014
Project: Includes office, residential, commercial space
Martin B. Cassidy
Updated 9:59 pm, Thursday, July 11, 2013
STAMFORD – A long-awaited plan to redevelop property near the downtown railroad station into office and residential space would include a Station Place office building and hotel complex of more than 600,000 square feet and place nearly half of all commuter parking spaces in new garages east and west of the station.
The Station Place buildings, along with a separate development on Manhattan Street featuring a mix of office, residential and commercial space, will total about 1 million square feet combined, officials said. The Station Place development will be built on the site of a dilapidated 1985 parking garage that has long been slated for replacement.
“This is going to be a true transit-oriented development,” said John McClutchy, president of JHM Group of Companies, the state’s chosen developer for the project. --¦ As the commissioner mentioned, this is all about the commuters and all about making their trek back and forth, whether going to New York and coming back into the evening a little bit easier. It is also about making the surroundings here more pleasant."
The plan was unveiled at the station Thursday by state Department of Transportation Commissioner Jim Redeker, who announced that McClutchy’s company, Stamford-based JHM Group of Companies, will build the $500 million redevelopment of state land at the station and on South State Street, as well as private property on Manhattan Street.
State officials have been reviewing developers’ proposals since last fall amid sustained concerns about the confidential bidding process in the development’s public-private partnership and whether the selected proposal would relocate rail parking farther from platforms than existing parking.
Standing alongside Redeker and McClutchy Thursday were Mayor Michael Pavia, state Rep. William Tong, D-Stamford, and members of an advisory group appointed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to provide input during the developer’s selection. All expressed support of the plan.
“When you look around and see the opportunities that are taking place in and around this center, and now with the recent announcement of a new public-private partnership it just ramps it up even more,” Pavia said.
An existing 1,200-space parking garage will remain dedicated to commuter use, while another 1,100 spaces will be split between a new South State Street garage and the complex on Manhattan Street. That parking should be available within three years after construction begins sometime in mid-2014, officials said.
The number of commuter parking spaces in those two locations will depend on the DOT’s determinations about how to split them between the two locations to best benefit commuters, but the South State Street garage will be exclusively for commuters, Redeker said.
“We have some options about where the spaces will go and we’re working on that to maximize the benefit,” he said.
Redeker acknowledged rail riders’ ongoing trepidation about both the lack of disclosure, as well as possible negative effects on their travel time from parking that has been moved away from the station, but said the state had approached negotiations with the goal of shortening commutes and not catering to developer’s profits.
Redeker said private sector involvement is needed because the cost of replacing the crumbling 1985 garage has grown from $35 million last decade to $70 million or more now.
“This is a negotiated arrangement and, frankly this is the norm for these kinds of projects where we keep the very, very special ideas which are proprietary and, frankly, worth a lot of money, confidential,” Redeker said. --¦If we were to do this project, it would be a garage, and an expensive garage, and in this case we leverage $35 million in state money to create a terrific development, which leverages, in the end, upwards of $500 million in private sector money."
While reserving judgment on the project’s merits until final details are established, Connecticut Rail Commuter Council Chairman Jim Cameron said the decision to retain 1,200 spaces on Station Place for commuters and the location of the two new garages is good news for commuters.
Cameron said he hoped commuters will be given well publicized forums to address concerns about adding walkover bridges along platforms to minimize walking times to the new parking areas.
“It seems there is still a lot to be decided, and I hope the developer does the public outreach,” Cameron said. “But all in all, they’re maintaining 1,200 spaces on Station Place and dedicating a garage on South State Street to commuters. It could be a lot worse.”
Redeker emphasized that new parking in the South State Street garage and in the new Manhattan Street development would be linked to rail platforms by covered pedestrian bridges and are as close, or closer to the platforms as the existing parking spaces at the station.
“Every one of the parking spaces will have direct platform access, regardless of what structure they are in,” he said.
Demolition of the Station Place garage will not begin until permanent replacement parking in the new South State Street garage and the Manhattan Street redevelopment are complete to ensure the same number of commuter parking spaces are available during the project, McClutchy said.
“The number of commuter parking spaces existing today will remain both during our project and after,” McClutchy said.
Daniel Hendricks, a member of both Malloy’s advisory council and the commuter council who travels to work from the Stamford station, said reapportioned parking between three structures will split drivers’ morning arrivals and evening exits more efficiently. Electronic signs will display where open parking spots are, he said.
“This is transformative,” Hendricks said.
In May, the state began meeting with a small group of officials in the city’s planning department and traffic engineers to discuss any potential oversights in the proposal that might impede traffic or conflict with the interests of other property owners.
Redeker said the redevelopment of properties on Manhattan Street would require full city zoning approval, but the Station Place and South State Street alterations are not subject to local planning authorities.
The owners of the Manhattan Street properties, have contracted with JHM Group to sell the land, McClutchy said.
City Rep. Annie Selkovits Taylor, R-19, said despite reassurances from Redeker and others about ease of access, unanswered specifics remain about how parkers in the Manhattan or South State street garages will move quickly to train platforms. Taylor represents North Stamford.
“They all speak very reassuringly that this is consumer-friendly and commuter-friendly and will improve commuting time,” she said. “I’m not sure what we heard today is enough to quell their concerns and we’re going to have to be cautiously optimistic as it goes through the approval process.”
Of immediate concern to residents should be the anticipated consideration of a state request to close a 2,000-foot section of South State Street, a plan to be heard by the Board of Representatives’ Land Use and Urban Redevelopment Committee next month.
Taylor said is would be irresponsible for city representatives to give the street to the state without ironclad assurances about of how the road will be used.
The closure process would require the city’s administration to make an official determination that turning over the road is in Stamford’s interest.
Redeker said that public outreach efforts by JHM Group of Companies would begin immediately, through meetings with local business associations and the local city government as well as commuters.
“We’re committed to seeking that input,” he said.