The June 2 opening of Hinckley Boat Yard on Stamford Harbor is just the latest step forward in the ongoing construction at the city’s Harbor Point and Harbor Landing — work that has transformed the once industrial waterfront into the kind of modern “live-work-play” cityscape that’s all the rage nationwide.
In fact, anyone visiting Stamford after a few years away would be amazed by what’s happening, said Ted Ferrarone, chief operating officer for developer Building and Land Technology.
“What you used to see (at the Hinckley site) was a fuel depot, surrounded mostly by other industrial sites, many of which had been vacant for years,” Ferrarone said. “Now it’s really bustling — you have high-rise apartments, boats, a lot of walking along the new boardwalk. It really is a big change.”
The Hinckley Boat Yard was some seven years in the making, following the shuttering in 2011 of Brewer’s Yacht Haven West, then one of the region’s largest full-service marinas with a boatyard for major winter storage. Brewer’s closing wasn’t of its own design, but occurred after BLT declined to renew its lease.
Hinckley’s full array of boat service operations and storage is now fully completed and available, Ferrarone said. He noted that operations at the boatyard actually began at the end of last summer with hauling and storage of boats, adding that its full-service center also represents the first such operation on the waterfront since Brewer closed. It also has a boat lift and a painting bay that can accommodate boats of any size, Ferrarone said.
“As part of the Hinckley company, boat owners also have access to their expert technicians all up and down the east coast — Maine, Maryland and Rhode Island — if there’s something they can’t take care of on site,” he said.
Hinckley Co. General Manager Peter Manion is overseeing the Stamford operation. Noting that it’s Hinckley’s seventh yacht service location in the U.S., Manion said that “The New York metropolitan area is an important market for us and a wonderful opportunity to extend our service relationship with our customers.”
The move hasn’t come without some controversy. The environmental group Soundkeeper opposed the termination of the boatyard at the 14-acre Brewer site and is also against much of the other development along the waterfront, arguing that the work has bypassed legally required compliance with environmental, coastal management and local zoning laws.
While Soundkeeper and its lawyers have filed several legal actions, both BLT and the city have maintained that their work meets all such requirements. That Mayor David Martin was present at the June 2 event would seem to prove his and the city’s support. Martin was unavailable for comment.
BLT is also required to build a boat storage facility on Magee Avenue by August. Ferrarone said that work would begin soon.
In the meantime, development of the 4,000 housing units BLT plans for Harbor Point continues apace, Ferrarone said. Over 2,700 of those units have been completed. Another 218 residential rental units are under construction at Harbor Landing, a mixed-use waterfront development. Its leasing office also opened on June 2, Ferrarone said; even with construction expected to wrap in the next couple of months, its first occupants are scheduled to move in on June 15.
Ninety percent of the residences will be priced at the market rate, with the remainder designated affordable housing. “Ninety percent of the recently built affordable housing available in Stamford is in these projects,” Ferrarone said.
All the units to date are rental properties. Ferrarone said that BLT is creating a fund to substantially rehabilitate existing housing stock and also to provide assistance for below-market-rate home-ownership opportunities.
“We’re working with the city to create a fund to reinvest in existing housing on the South End,” he said. Upon “substantially rehabilitating” those properties, “there will be incentives to buy.”
A bike-sharing program has also been introduced to Harbor Point, though Ferrarone said the area’s walkability is one of its chief selling points. A boardwalk connects the Hinckley Boatyard to Boccuzzi Park. BLT also runs a shuttle to the train and the water taxi to Harbor Point to increase connectivity, Ferrarone noted.
Harbor Point also includes a growing number of eateries, ranging from Mexicue and Asian Bistro to Crabshell and Boothbay Lobster Co. Greenwich’s Horseneck Wines & Liquors will open there in two weeks and Patisserie Salzburg, which operates restaurants in Rye and Scarsdale, New York, will join the lineup within a month, Ferrarone said.