Bridgewater HQ, boatyard relocation plans get a boost
Plans by Bridgewater Associates to relocate to Stamford got a needed boost after Mayor Michael Pavia reached an agreement with Building and Land Technology Corp. that could allow for the relocation of the former Brewer Yacht Haven Marina.
The proposal to bring Bridgewater, among the world’s largest investment firms with more than $130 billion in assets under management, to the city’s Harbor Point development had been held up by a dispute between patrons of the city’s boatyard and Harbor Point principal Building and Land Technology (BLT).
City officials said an application by BLT to build a $750 million, 750,000-square-foot headquarters for Bridgewater on the 14-acre site previously occupied by the Brewer Yacht Haven Marina and boatyard cannot move forward without a resolution on an alternative boatyard site.
BLT has proposed to construct a new boatyard at 205 Magee Ave., a 3.5-acre property that looks across at the east side of the Harbor Point development.
In order for the boatyard relocation plan to move forward, however, the developer would need to reach an agreement with the city for the use of a 4,200-square-foot chunk of city-owned property that separates 205 Magee Ave. from the waterfront.
In a letter of intent reached between Pavia and BLT subsidiary Waterfront Magee L.L.C., the city pledges to enter into discussions with the developer over the use of city-owned property adjacent to 205 Magee Ave. if the boatyard plan is approved by the requisite city boards and commissions.
Laure C. Aubuchon, director of the city’s Office of Economic Development, said the letter of intent states only that the city would discuss the possibility of an easement that would allow BLT use of the waterfront property, and that it does not constitute a transfer of property rights, something she said would need to be approved by various city boards.
“If the (boatyard) project goes through, then — and only then — we sit down to negotiate any consideration for the grant of property,” Aubuchon said. “That grant would be memorialized in a superseding agreement, which would have to be approved and ratified by other boards and commissions, but at the very least, the Board of Representatives.”
Aubuchon said the fate of the Bridgewater development “is tied to the resolution of the boatyard.”
“Without the letter of intent, the application could not move forward because there was this 4,200-square-foot strip of land that would not have allowed the boat yard to function as a boatyard, and it is owned by the city,” she said. “We’re just trying to keep the project moving toward the right place for it to be reviewed, which are the boards.”
Maureen Boylan, founder of the group Save Our Boatyard, said BLT has used “bully tactics” to attempt to push the relocation plan through.
“We are David taking on Goliath but we’re winning,” Boylan said. “They’ve already alienated many of the Stamford taxpayers, not just boaters, with their bully tactics.”
Boylan said the group would continue to fight any attempts by BLT to move the boatyard from its current site in the city’s South End, where there is currently a temporary boatyard while BLT clears the property.
“BLT is under a timeline that they need to get the building completed by 2017, and we’re just going to keep on delaying it and delaying it as long as possible,” Boylan said. She claimed the city and BLT has refused to meet with members of the organization to hear their concerns.
However, Aubuchon said she directly reached out to Boylan and was turned away.
“I actually called Maureen and she refused to meet with me,” Aubuchon said. “I’ll meet with anybody. … I certainly understand their concerns. We are trying to work toward a win-win.”
Aubuchon said that late in 2012, the city hired an independent consultant, Miami-based Bermello Ajamil & Partners Inc., “to opine on the proposed boatyard site and to tell us whether it meets the needs or it doesn’t.”
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of the Business Journal for the week of Jan. 21, 2013.