New London's RCDA has hotel, three other proposals in the works

New London — The Renaissance City Development Association announced Thursday it had received a good faith $10,000 deposit and signed a commitment to negotiate with the developer looking to build a hotel on the Fort Trumbull peninsula.

It was one highlight of a year that RCDA President Linda Mariani said is showing great economic development promise for the city.

“These are very exciting times for development in the city,” she said.

The RCDA also is close to signing a contract for the $40 million Shipway 221 condominium complex off Howard Street, negotiating with a developer with plans for a 90-100 unit apartment complex at the corner of Howard and Bank streets and is in preliminary talks with a startup company interested in building an aquaponics farm outside Fort Trumbull State Park.

The hotel news was announced at the RCDA’s annual meeting held in a conference room at Fort Trumbull State Park and attended by Massachusetts hotel owner Jay Patel.

Patel is the founder of the family-run J-Patel Hotel Group and expressed confidence his proposal would come to fruition. He said it would be the third “new build” hotel for his company.

“When we break ground, this will be the best hotel in the I-95 corridor. I’m eager to start my project here,” he said.

Patel said he was nearing completion of a Holiday Inn Express in Sturbridge, Mass., and owns a Hampton by Hilton in Auburn, Mass. He thanked the RCDA and the city, particularly Mayor Michael Passero, for dedicating their time and efforts to help his plan move along.

Plans for the hotel are only conceptual at this point and he was not yet ready to reveal which hotel chain might be involved. It would be located on the 9.4-acre waterfront parcel that is part of the 90-acre municipal development area that was the site of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court eminent domain case Kelo v. City of New London.

RCDA Executive Director Peter Davis said the RCDA has been in talks with EB management, who have expressed their need for a proper conference center space at the hotel.

Much of the recent development progress comes with a new partnership between the RCDA and the city, which led to funding to hire Davis and Assistant Executive Director Frank McLaughlin.

“It’s been a great year. It is beyond any of our expectations that we could move this far this fast,” Passero said. “It’s this type of energy that is needed to move us forward.”

Along with the partnership with the RCDA, Passero also highlighted the burgeoning relationship with the state Port Authority, which has acquired funding for improvements at State Pier, is helping the city develop a harbor management plan and is expected to facilitate the movement of the commercial fishing fleet now located on the would-be hotel parcel.

Passero said the city also is working with the state Department of Transportation that may serve to redesign the city’s traffic patterns.

Davis said while recent developments are aided by an increase in employees at General Dynamics Electric Boat and to some extent Lawrence + Memorial Hospital’s partnership with Yale New Haven, all of the planned developments would serve to diversify the tax base and add much-needed jobs to the region.

The commitment to negotiate signed with Patel on Thursday locks both parties into an exclusive 9-month negotiating period as they work toward a development agreement.

g.smith@theday.com

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