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With Stadium Stalled, Hartford Mayor Says Developer's Role in Rest of Project in Doubt

Jeff Cohen
Dunkin Donuts Park in Hartford.

The developers of Hartford’s stalled minor league baseball stadium want to hold off on the grocery store they agreed to. But Mayor Luke Bronin now says they may have bigger problems -- and he doubts the people at Centerplan Construction have the ability to finish the rest of the ambitious downtown development project. 

The unfinished, more than $60 million stadium for the Hartford Yard Goats is only one part of the bigger, $350 million development project just north of downtown. Other parts were to have included things like a brewery, a hotel, retail, apartments, and a grocery. But developer Bob Landino said he wants the city to agree to forgo the grocery store for now because no one wants to open one – including ShopRite, which he says originally planned to come.

"They have decided not to come to Hartford and, in all honesty, we've tried 20 other grocery stores and no one is ready to come to this location," Landino said on WNPR's Where We Live.  "What they have said is, 'Build it and maybe we'll come in a year or two.'"

Landino also said he hopes to negotiate the grocery store's future as a part of a bigger settlement negotiation with the city.

"The settlement proposal will include us finishing the ballpark, will include a third party monitoring the project, will include us funding the balance of the work to complete the ballpark, and will include a affirmation, or reaffirmation, of us continuing with the balance of the development," Landino said. 

Credit Ryan Caron King / WNPR
Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin on WNPR's Where We Live.

But Mayor Bronin was skeptical.

"I have doubts about whether this current development team is going to be able to pull off what they promised to pull off," Bronin said. "But I am committed to doing everything we can to get that area developed."

The mayor said he wants proof that Centerplan has the cash to finish the job.

“Because what we don’t want to do is get into a situation where we are spending down the rest of what’s in the stadium account and then finding that they don’t have the financial capacity or willingness to do it," Bronin said.   

Landino said he plans to put a proposal forward in the next few days.

Jeff Cohen started in newspapers in 2001 and joined Connecticut Public in 2010, where he worked as a reporter and fill-in host. In 2017, he was named news director. Then, in 2022, he became a senior enterprise reporter.

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