State pulls out of Stamford train station project

By Kevin Zimmerman

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The state has ended three years of negotiations with Stamford Manhattan Development Ventures (SMDV) for a $500 million Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) project at the Stamford Transportation Center.

The project would have converted the city’s train station into a multi-use facility containing office and retail space, hotel rooms and residential units.

The announcement was made by Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) Commissioner James Redeker and Office of Policy and Management (OPM) Secretary Ben Barnes.

“There were compelling benefits from the proposed TOD that would benefit commuters, the city and the taxpayers of the state that were clearly worth the effort to try to reach a positive result,” Redeker said. “In the end, we decided it was in the best interest of the state to terminate the process.”

“I continue to believe that high-intensity Transit-Oriented Development is the right use of that property, and I commend DOT and SMDV for their unflagging effort to bring this agreement to conclusion,” said Barnes. “Unfortunately, the negotiations failed to yield an agreement that benefits the residents of our state to the greatest extent possible. I look forward to DOT completing a replacement parking structure and thereafter redeveloping the Station Place property in a way that strengthens the transit system, the City of Stamford, and the State of Connecticut.”

CTDOT is now initiating the design of a new 1,000-space garage on South State Street. That facility, expected to open in 2021 at an estimated cost of $53 million, will have walkways connecting to all platforms at the station. The site of the existing garage, which will stay open until the new garage is completed, will remain under CTDOT ownership.

While Stamford Mayor David Martin said he welcomed the new garage and hoped to revisit the train station repurposing project at a later date, commuter advocate Jim Cameron was decidedly less sanguine.

“The process from the RFP to choosing a developer to contract negotiations was done in complete secrecy with no public input,” Cameron said. “CDOT never asked commuters what they’d like and never explained how they chose the developer, SMDV. Commuters were justly suspicious.”

Cameron added that the CDOT “has failed spectacularly on their first big TOD project. But what lessons have we all learned as a result and how do we go forward from here?”


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