New London development group cutting ties with River Bank

New London - The Renaissance City Development Association has apparently severed its ties with River Bank Construction but is leaving the door open for future development by River Bank on the Fort Trumbull peninsula.

"We are not any longer actually speaking with the Stillmans," RCDA President Linda Mariani said Friday during a meeting of the RCDA board. She was referring to Irwin and Robert Stillman, the father and son owners of River Bank.

"It appears we are not going to reach any accord subsequent to mediation," Mariani said.

Robert Stillman declined to comment.

The Stillmans had proposed a 103-unit Village on the Green housing project on about 7 acres in Fort Trumbull and were supposed to break ground this past May on the first 34 units. But a

disagreement about financing postponed the start of the project, with both sides accusing the other of breach of contract. Several mediation sessions were unsuccessful.

"No agreement is currently in effect between RCDA and River Bank Construction LLC," Mariani said in a statement released Friday. "The principals of that developer have periodically expressed continuing interest in developments at Fort Trumbull, and representatives from the RCDA have from time to time discussed that interest with them."

The Stillmans, who obtained all the permits for the first project and have spent more than $1 million, did not attend the meeting. If they obtain financing, the RCDA could still considering going forward with the project, Mariani said.

City Councilor Martin T. Olsen, who attended Friday's meeting, said it appears the deal "is not dead yet, but certainly it has a very, very light pulse."

"It's disappointing. I would have liked to see that project move forward. I think it had value," he said.

Next year, the RCDA plans to send out new "Requests for Qualifications" for the entire Fort Trumbull area, not just the former Naval Undersea Warfare Center land where the Stillmans were planning to build.

"Hopefully, we can look to the future and move things along for a development that is embraced by everyone in the city," Mariani said.

Any agreement for a new development has to be approved by the city and the state, she added.

River Bank became the designated developer in 2010 and received Planning and Zoning approvals in 2011. Last spring, the Stillmans were preparing to sign the final papers and break ground on the first 34 units, but the RCDA refused to turn the land over after a dispute about how the project would be financed. The Stillmans were prepared to self-finance, but the RCDA wanted assurances in the contract that the money would be designated for the project.

k.edgecomb@theday.com

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