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New London names prime developer with hopes of future waterfront activity

New London — The city has assigned prime developer status to a New York-based marine design and engineering company for development of the city’s Waterfront Park.

The City Council emerged from a closed-door meeting on Tuesday to approve a one-year agreement with Advanced American Engineering that gives the company exclusive negotiating rights to work out a possible lease or development agreement with the city. In return, the city has agreed not to market the city’s waterfront with the exception of the Custom House Pier, which the city has leased to City Dock Oyster Bar & Restaurant. The city is under no obligation to accept any proposals.

What type of development Advanced American Engineering has in mind is unclear, since the City Council opted not to discuss the plans in public at Tuesday’s meeting.

Reached on Wednesday, Advanced American Engineering partner David Hancock and Attorney Mathew Greene, who represents the company, deferred to the wishes of the City Council and declined to talk about what type of plan was discussed with the City Council during closed-door meetings.

Hancock said his company is involved in design and engineering work on waterfront developments, including piers, docks, marinas and bulkheading, or seawalls. The proposed development zone included in the agreement with New London encompasses all of the city’s piers and docking spaces, along with the mooring field.

He said his company designed and engineered aspects of the overall waterfront design of the development at Garvies Point in Glen Cove, N.Y., which features an ecology pier, marina and esplanade, or open area for walking along the water. The company also worked on the design of Marina Pointe, a waterfront residential community in East Rockaway, N.Y., and is working with the National Park Service on design of a marina and waterfront park in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Hancock said New London’s waterfront appears underdeveloped and lacking some of the more modern amenities that attract boaters and activity.

“I picked up on that and came up with a proposal, something that could add some positive economic development,” Hancock said. “New London is a pretty cool town.”

Mayor Michael Passero said he expects a public presentation in the coming weeks.

One of his goals for the city’s waterfront is to provide for more dock space that could attract more marine commerce and perhaps a portion of the mega yacht industry and “everything that comes along with that.”

“We don’t have the space or adequate facilities. What I’m looking for is to improve the waterfront infrastructure with private equity, not public dollars, so the improvements are driven by market demand and the city reaps the economic benefits of increased marine commerce,” Passero said.

Tuesday’s agreement allows the developer time to finalize a plan, test to find out if it can get through the state permitting process and garner community support.

“We have a legitimate company interested in investing significantly in our waterfront. It’s a beautiful patch of navigable water that’s not usable because there is nothing there,” Passero said. “What we need in New London is a working waterfront. People are going to where there’s activity, where there’s action.”

g.smith@theday.com

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