New London – Potential developers of two long-awaited New London projects, a residential proposal for Fort Trumbull and the residential-commercial space at the corner of Bank and Howard streets, have stepped down, leaving the city welcoming new proposals in the end of the year.
Kyle Klewin, the chairman of Mystic-based Klewin Development, informed the city earlier this month that he would not be seeking an extension of his preferred developer status for the so-called Parcel J property at the corner of Bank and Howard streets. .
He cited a sour relationship with future development partner AR Building Co. as one of the reasons.
AR Building, the most recent entity to express interest in the development of the Fort Trumbull neighborhood through the Renaissance City Development Association, has also abandoned plans for a first-announced $ 18 million residential development. in March.
There has been no new construction at Fort Trumbull since the area became the center of a national fight for a prominent estate.
Former potential developer Robert Stillman, doing business as River Bank Construction, has a lawsuit pending against the city to recover $ 83,000 paid in permit fees. River Bank had proposed a $ 24 million Village on Thames project.
Karl-Erik Sternlof, attorney for RCDA, told AR Building Co., “for business reasons of their own,” said he was not interested in pursuing a development deal. He said a “good faith deposit” made by AR had been returned. The company pulled out this summer.
First named Preferred Developer for the city-owned Parcel J property in 2013, Klewin had at one point proposed a $ 13 million project that included a grocery store and more than 40 apartments. A development agreement was never finalized.
Klewin said he has invested over $ 250,000 in a scalable development plan and recently worked with AR Building to develop the plot as a mixed-use commercial and residential property.
Klewin has a pending federal lawsuit against AR Building for alleged breach of contract on a $ 31 million project the two were working on together in Cumberland, RI
Federal Court records show a lawsuit filed in November by a Klewin, doing business as Acme Construction Specialties and Klewin Construction Inc., against Highland Hills Apartments LLC and AR Building.
“So Klewin could not and in no way wanted to work with AR on (the Parcel J project)…” Kyle Klewin wrote in a December 1 letter to New London’s economic development coordinator Ned Hammond.
In addition to disagreements with AR, Klewin indicated that in order to make the Parcel J project financially feasible, plans would have to be further revised to reduce retail space and significantly increase the number of apartments, which in turn would require planning and zoning approval.
“We hope that a viable plan can be found for this property as it would be a significant achievement for the revitalization of downtown New London,” said Klewin.
Hammond said the city had previously had contact with three “interested parties” who also spoke of primarily residential development at Parcel J.
Zoning of the area imposes a certain amount of commercial space on the ground floor of any new construction.
It is not clear if RCDA is working with potential new developers.
The approximately 90-acre property covered by the Fort Trumbull Municipal Development Plan is advertised by West Hartford brokerage firm NAI Elite.
John Brooks, RCDA consultant and former director of development at Fort Trumbull, said the common thread running through the loss of potential developers over the years has been the economy, which makes it difficult for a developer to invest.
He said a bright spot remains the number of electric boat workers in the region.
London’s new mayor, Michael Passero, said he remained optimistic about interest in the city’s properties. He said he foresees a time in the near future when the public and city council will weigh in on a new development proposal.
Parcel J is a 3.23 acre property that has remained vacant since the now defunct New London Redevelopment Agency purchased the land as part of the Shaw’s Cove portion of a city-wide urban renewal plan.
The city council dissolved the agency in 2008 and now acts as the primary redevelopment authority. Any new development plan requires the approval of the board.
Hammond said a parking lot now covers a 0.73 acre portion of Parcel J and is used by tenants in the adjacent office building on a property called Shaw’s Cove 6. The parking lot is leased, with an option of purchase, to the owners. of the office building, Shaw’s New London LLC. The owners have until Thursday to exercise their option to purchase.