Bold vision for New London waterfront could be transformative
I was surprised by the column written by David Collins relative to the interest that my company, Advanced American Engineering, has in developing New London’s downtown waterfront. I tried to be as open and transparent as possible, however his writing does not accurately reflect my comments.
First and foremost, AAE does have the experience necessary to develop the waterfront. I have over 40 years’ experience from designing to permitting to building water-related components of developments, which include bulkheads, shoreline protection and marinas. AAE just recently completed a project in Glen Cove, Long Island known as Garvies Point. We designed and oversaw the waterfront portion of the development, which was a mile long and included two marinas, ecological pier and a unique bulkhead design. Another recent project in which we had a similar role was Marina Pointe in East Rockaway, Long Island. Current projects include Moon Beam Gateway Marina in Brooklyn, N.Y., as well as Cove Sail Marina in Sea Bright, N.J. Cove Sail is a partnership project with the Crest Group, also partners in our New London project.
The City Council has only granted AAE with prime developer status. We did not sign a development agreement. We are working toward that in which we plan further due diligence in investigating all aspects to development of the waterfront. As this will cost us a significant amount of money, it is customary to obtain prime developer status before expending such monies. We had developed a general development concept that we presented to the council. In granting prime developer status, the council had full understanding that prior to entering into an actual Development Agreement, part of our due diligence would be to meet with the community and obtain input on the development. It has always been part of our plan to obtain community input.
The preliminary conceptual drawings and plan have been designed with knowledge of the New London port. We have done measurements for depths and channel width for what is proposed. It all fits. We have had preliminary discussion with the state environmental agency, and while they expressed concern on some aspects, they did not consider the concept as “preposterous” “wacky” or a “folly” as Collins suggests. These concepts presented are derived from actual successful projects completed in other waterfront communities.
But New London has one amenity the others do not: a deep-water port. So why not New London?
Our vision is to have an attractive marina that can accommodate vessels from the small watercraft to a yacht to a mid-size cruise liner. The plan is to include a floating market to provide accessory support for boaters. A floating pool is part of the amenities as well. One is part of a recent project on the Hudson River and has proven to be very successful.
We are also proposing what has been called a floating hotel, which is the equivalent of an individual hotel room designed on a watercraft, which can be navigated on the local waters. Further aspects of the plan envisioned call for boat and kayak rentals as well as an ecological pier or area that will serve as an educational opportunity and compliment the Children’s Discovery Pier.
I have presented a vision of what our team is capable of developing in New London. The investment from our team will be in the tens of millions. This is money directly invested in New London. We would not invest millions of our own money for an unrealistic project. New London will benefit immensely. In addition to expanding economic development, there will be great employment opportunities and increased tax revenue. Most importantly, the public will continue to have access to the waterfront as it does now, but with more reason to utilize it. This will create expanded use of the Waterfront Park for New London residents.
I have traveled by New London’s waterfront numerous times and have always been intrigued. I turned my intrigue into a vison of what can be developed for this great city. I am excited to show how this vision can be accomplished with great benefit to the city.
The success of this project will depend on my ability to return to the City Council with a development proposal that has strong community support. I look forward to this opportunity and thank Mayor Passero and council for their vision. Let’s move forward in a positive cohesive manner and be proud of what we can accomplish.
David Hancock is a principal partner with Advanced American Engineering, which is pursuing a large development project on New London’s waterfront.