Stamford Planning Board Pours Cold Water On Bridgewater Plan

Aug 16 2013 | 1:17am ET

Stamford, Conn., officials got a rough going-over from a City Planning Board that sounds deeply skeptical about Bridgewater Associates' planned new headquarters.

At issue on Tuesday night wasn't Bridgewater's planned $750 million new home but the new boatyard that would replace the one to be displaced by the hedge fund. The new boatyard would be built on city-owned land by the developer working on the Bridgewater building.

But the Planning Board made clear they aren't happy with the existing proposal or with Building and Land Technology, the developer.

"Since they've already destroyed one boatyard, how do we have any guarantee they won't destroy a new boatyard?" board member Claire Fishman asked, referring to BLT's 2011 demolition of the boatyard where the firm hopes to build the Bridgewater campus, in spite of a zoning requirement that a boatyard on the site be preserved.

"Why weren't they punished for destroying that boatyard?" she asked.

Other board members questioned whether $5 million in public improvements promised were enough to turn city land over to a private developer. One, alternative Jay Tepper, asked why the decision could not be postponed until after November's mayoral election. Most of the candidates for current Mayor Michael Pavia's job oppose the boatyard plan.

"We've waited all this time, so why can't we wait three more months?"

But the harshest assessment may have come from Planning Board Chairwoman Theresa Dell.

"I'm not even 100% sure why we're doing this," she said. "By allowing an outside company to agree they'll give us such and such dollar amount, can't corporations come in and say we see you need this piece of infrastructure? There should be some financial coming back to the city that the city decides what should be done with it."

Bridgewater announced last year that it would move from Westport, Conn., to the new waterfront campus, in a deal with Connecticut's governor, Dannel Malloy. In exchange for more than $100 million in tax benefits, Bridgewater pledged to create some 750 new jobs.


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