Officials see Bass Pro summer groundbreaking
Posted in the Trumbull Forum
#1 Mar 16, 2014
BRIDGEPORT -- Missouri-based Bass Pro Shops is still coming to Bridgeport's Steel Point site.
The company has been waiting for the state to finalize a package of financial incentives later this month.
"You've heard the story -- if you're from Missouri, you've got to show them," said Robert Christoph, the Miami-based developer of Steel Point. "These are true Missourians ... Bass Pro's not going to get too far out in front of this until they know it's finished and a certainty. Logically, it makes sense."
Some Bridgeport residents likely have a bit of Missourian in them, too, when it comes to believing Bass Pro will break ground here.
After all, the company's decision to build a massive store and tourist attraction at the long-in-limbo Steel Point site was announced in July 2012 with much fanfare by state and local officials.
At that time, Bass Pro aimed to open its doors by Christmas 2013. But the date kept getting pushed back and back.
Last week, Mayor Bill Finch -- who is counting on Bass Pro to give a big boost to Bridgeport's economy and reputation -- told members of the Democratic Town Committee, "We've got Steel Point coming back with a vengeance, Bass Pro being built this summer."
A year ago, Finch projected that Bass Pro would break ground in 2013.
Christoph, however, seems correct in his analysis. On March 24, Connecticut Innovations, an arm of the state's economic development agencies, is expected to give final approval to issue $22 million in state bonds to help build Bass Pro's 150,000-square-foot store.
The deal has already been approved by the state Legislature and the state's bond commission.
"And once the bonds are issued, you obviously want construction to start not long after because ... the money's ready to go," said Antonio Roberto, managing director of strategic investments at Connecticut Innovations. "We wouldn't want to issue bonds and just have the money sit out there."
In the meantime, Christoph said, work continues on preparation of the site -- or "the pad" -- for Bass Pro, which did not return requests for comment. Utilities are being installed at the site and some environmental contamination is already being cleaned up.
"We're teeing it up," Christoph said.
The goal is to turn the site over to Bass Pro by early June for a summer groundbreaking. Christoph noted the company is still working on the designs.
"They're certainly nowhere near ready to tender to the Building Department," Christoph said. "They've got more than one location they're working on trying to get open, and sometimes, we get caught up in their own red tape, bureaucracy and priorities."
Brett Broesder, Finch's new spokesman, said on Friday, "Mayor Finch is confident that construction will be occurring this summer.
"This represents perhaps the largest economic development project in Bridgeport since the industrial revolution," Broesder said. "But endeavors of this magnitude aren't finished overnight. There are myriad moving pieces, and therefore, the timetable is constantly evolving."
It will take roughly 400 days for the store to be built and opened, officials said.
Christoph said he also continues to woo other tenants for Steel Point.
"We've got strong interest on multiple fronts," he said. "We hope to have significant announcements in the next 90 days."
Since: Jan 08
#2 Mar 16, 2014
Like in the entire "Steel Point grasslands' project: the only 'ground breaking' going on there is from the locals digging for scrap metal.
Since: Aug 10
#3 Mar 16, 2014
Or for single coins or buried treasures, Sol.
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