New London to tout growth with forum for investors, developers

New London — Mayor Michael Passero says for too long the city has talked about its potential and highlighted its dreams and possibilities.

On Thursday, the city is hosting a “premier development event” at the Garde Arts Center, where Passero said it will be evident there is a shift in the way the city now sees itself because of tangible growth in the city.

“We’re talking about real things happening, the real money being spent and not the prospects,” he said.

The event was organized by Felix Reyes, director of the city’s Office of Development and Planning, with support from the Chamber of Commerce of Southeastern Connecticut.

It is on one hand a public relations event and on another a networking opportunity for investors and real estate development firms from across the northeast. City officials see a chance to highlight progress of ongoing projects and outline future economic development plans.

The theme for the event is “live, work, invest,” and there is a list of guest speakers, some of whom already have made investments in the city and others that have ongoing development projects. The Day Publisher and President Pat Richardson is among the group of invited speakers.

A.R. Building Company's director of land development Jason Kambitsis is expected to speak about the company’s investment in the city. The Pennsylvania-based company has emerged as a major investor in the city and completed a $15 million, 104-unit apartment complex at 60 Mansfield Road earlier this year.

Last Friday, A.R. closed on the city-owned property known as Parcel J at the corner of Bank and Howard streets. A.R. Building paid the city $650,000. They expect to break ground on a 98-unit apartment complex, not coincidentally, on the day of the development forum.

Passero said not only is A.R. Building delivering a boost to the residential market that will bring hundreds of more people to the downtown but “cleaning up a mess” made when city officials cleared the area but let it sit essentially vacant for about four decades.

Parcel J is a remnant of the Shaw's Cove Urban Renewal Plan that was approved by the city in 1973.

Other highlights of the forum will include a recap of the millions of dollars in investments by the state and offshore wind companies at State Pier and an announcement of a host community agreement with Deepwater Wind.

Representatives from General Dynamics Electric Boat, Yale New Haven Health, Connecticut Port Authority and READCO Portfolio also are expected to speak.

City officials won’t let on about any other major announcements but said they’ve invited investors and developers to use the night to make announcements of their own.

Key investors were invited to the event though it also is open to the media and anyone interested in development and real estate, Reyes said.

“We’re excited for this opportunity to showcase the many development opportunities in New London,” Reyes said. "Our city has been experiencing amazing growth recently, with the investment in State Pier and the revitalization of our downtown area, now is the time for developers to invest in the city.”

Passero said the future development of the estimated $100 million National Coast Guard Museum in downtown remains a large driver for some of the activity in New London.

“We’re not sitting around waiting for the Coast Guard museum. And this is a new way of thinking, but we are not depending on one silver bullet that turns around the city of New London,” Passero said. “It’s a critical and important amenity coming ... but that will complement our efforts. Anybody that comes to visit the museum when it opens, it will be an eye-opener to discover our city.”

g.smith@theday.com

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