HARTFORD, Conn. — Plans to bring new life to the area around Dunkin' Park in Hartford were put on pause again.
"Unfortunate that we have this hiccup but it’s a hiccup. These things happen in the world of development," said David Griggs, president, and CEO of the MetroHartford Alliance.
A judge ruled this week that development can’t continue until a new trial is complete, between the original developers of Dunkin' Park, and the city of Hartford.
It goes back to 2016 when the city fired Centerplan Construction Co. and DoNo Hartford LLC from the construction project of the park after not meeting the deadline for it to be completed.
A year later, the city fired them from the project to redevelop the surrounding area too.
At the time, Mayor Luke Bronin said it was due to a “lack of capacity and experience...compounded by a lack of honesty and transparency."
The developers filed a lawsuit against the city, in which the ruling was in favor of the city in 2019.
However, the state supreme court has ordered a new trial, which isn’t set to take place until 2024.
Meaning, for now, the future of development is up in the air.
"The lawsuit, what we’ve got going on is a temporary slow down. It’s not stopping anything it’s just causing us to look at things a little differently for a moment," Griggs said.
He said, the plans to transform what’s currently parking lots into housing and storefronts, will help connect the downtown area to the ballpark.
"It’s not a question of if it will happen, it is a question of when it will happen," Griggs said.
Hartford residents want to make sure that when it does happen, it not only seeks to bring in people from other towns but is inclusive of those already living in the city.
"I get it, we want income coming into Hartford but it’s got to be for all of us. Not just for some of us," said Adrienne Trice of Hartford. "They want to build shops but who are the shops for?" she said.
“This court decision is very disappointing, and we are carefully reviewing the decision and we will determine if there are immediate steps we can take to allow the development of the parcels to go forward while we prepare for a new trial in 2024," said Mayor Luke Bronin in a statement. "While this is clearly a setback to our effort to further develop the parcels surrounding the stadium, we are confident that, in the end, the City will prevail in the litigation with Centerplan and DoNo.”
Louis R. Pepe, a partner at McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney, & Carpenter LLP representing the developer said in a statement, "Obviously, our client is very pleased with the Court’s decision affirming its right to pursue its equitable remedies against the City of Hartford, including specific performance of the four 98-yer ground leases it signed with the City in 2015. Hartford DoNo successfully competed for the development rights for those parcels, and it is just as ready, willing and able to proceed with their development today as it was then.”
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