Connecticut city plans $841M redevelopment project

A who’s who of Connecticut business leaders are forging ahead with a $841 million plan to redevelop Founders Plaza in East Hartford.

The developers — operating as Port Eastside LLC — purchased a low-rise office building at 99 Founders Plaza for $4 million, the Hartford Business Journal reported. The venture plans to demolish the building, which sits on seven-and-a-half acres.

A seven-figure purchase of a small office building isn’t scintillating, but what the developers have up their sleeves is worth monitoring. Port Eastside is planning a project with 1,000 apartments, 300,000 square feet of commercial space and a pedestrian bridge over the Connecticut River for the site of the 50-year-old Founders Plaza.

As for those developers’ identities: Lexington Partners owner Martin Kenny, LAZ Parking owner Alan Lazowski, Hoffman Auto Group co-chair Jeffrey Hoffman, Houston-based multifamily investor REV’s Peter Roisman, Figure 8 Properties principals Harris and Bruce Simons and Manafort Brothers President Jim Manafort, cousin of Paul Manafort.

East Hartford Mayor Michael Walsh referred to the development team as a “game-changer.”

Besides demolishing the office building, Port Eastside needs to raze the former Red Thread property and a dilapidated parking garage to make way for the project, a 30-acre site along the river. The project would include several mid- to high-rise apartment buildings, a 100,000-square-foot medical center, a transportation center and an elevated greenway.

The development team aims to land $45 million from East Hartford to finance the construction of a new parking garage. They are also seeking $100 million from state and federal sources for the transportation elements of the project. The venture already secured $6.5 million from several sources to cover demolition.

The venture aims to demolish the existing properties this year and project a seven-to-eight year process to deliver the development. Permitting and financing still need to come through for the project to unfold as planned.
Holden Walter-Warner

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