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Seaport Marine to file plans for major Mystic redevelopment

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Mystic — The owners of Seaport Marine on Washington Street expect to file a zoning application this week to demolish their 11.5-acre site and redevelop it with a second restaurant, a marine services building, a 45-room boutique hotel and a mix of 47 apartments, townhouses and single-family homes.

Plans for the Smiler’s Wharf project also call for a large boat basin to accommodate additional docking space and a public-access boardwalk, plaza and kayak pavilion.

On Wednesday, Harry Boardsen, who manages Seaport Marine and its sister property, Noank Shipyard, with his wife, Abbey Holstein, whose family owns the properties, outlined updates to the plan since a workshop was held with the Stonington Planning and Zoning Commission last spring.

The only building that will remain on the site will be the popular Red 36 restaurant. Boardsen said that Angela Kanabis, who runs Red 36, also will operate the new 200-seat restaurant.

While there will be additional dockage space with the new basin, support services such as painting and mechanical work will move to Noank Shipyard. The hotel would be built at the foot of Cottrell Street, where large white boat sheds now are located. There will be no commercial space, something that had been in an earlier plan.

“Main Street is for retail,” Boardsen said, pointing out the seven new storefronts in the newly reconstructed Central Hall block.

Boardsen said he wants his property to provide amenities to attract people to town to patronize other businesses, especially those who arrive by boat and do not impact roads and parking in the downtown.

The project’s 316 parking spots are blocked from view from the street and the location of the single-family homes and other residential units are designed to provide a transition with the adjacent neighborhood.

The project would be built in phases over five years. Boardsen said he would like to break ground on the residential and dock portion of the project this fall if he can obtain the needed zoning and state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection permits.

A fiscal analysis done of the project shows it would generate almost $500,000 a year in tax revenue for the Town of Stonington, about $400,000 more than it does now. It also would generate an estimated $18 million annually in consumer spending related to its uses and create an equivalent of 155 full-time permanent jobs.

The property is zoned marine commercial but the application is seeking to use the town’s Neighborhood Development District tool, a floating zone that requires a master plan and site plan approval, public hearings for both and gives the Planning and Zoning Commission wide discretion in what it approves.

Boardsen praised the town and Director of Planning Jason Vincent in assisting him in getting the project to this point.

One hurdle the project could face is that the Mystic sewer treatment plant is nearing its capacity to process sewage. But there is a total of $1.5 million in the proposed capital improvements budgets for 2019-20 and 2020-21 for upgrades to send sewage from the Mystic plant along an existing pipeline to the borough treatment plant, which is operating at 50 percent capacity. This would create extra capacity at the Mystic plant and allow new projects, such as the Seaport Marine project and two hotels proposed for Coogan Boulevard, to tie in to the system.

Boardsen explained the project’s name comes from a Prohibition-era rum runner named Arthur Rowland, whose boats were built at a shipyard on the property at the time. It was said Rowland was always smiling.


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