Some key Bridgeport downtown projects moving slowly
BRIDGEPORT — When it comes to economic development, this city has gotten used to waiting to see if plans on paper become real, occupied buildings.
John Guedes, who operates the city-based Primrose Companies architecture and construction, said he has learned to take a believe-it-when-he-sees-it approach to Bridgeport’s economy: “Don’t worry about the ones (plans) that have been approved, worry about the ones that have been started.”
Guedes hoped to be able to open his new 92-unit downtown apartment complex by now. But after an initial groundbreaking at the corner of Congress and Main streets, the site has lain dormant.
He said in an interview this week he expected the foundation will finally be poured this fall, with an opening in late 2021 or in 2022. He blamed the delay on a combination of old construction debris that needed removal and some permitting complications.
“Building in Bridgeport is always a little more difficult,” said Guedes.
This week, staff from the economic development department briefed members of the City Council on the status of several projects, including a few downtown where officials have for years been working to renovate or replace vacant and dilapidated municipally-owned sites on and off Main Street.
The ultimate goal has been to build a larger mix of housing, retail and attractions to bring more life to an area which, particularly now because of the current COVID-19 pandemic, struggles to become and stay a lively and prosperous destination.
Of a trio of pending high-profile proposals Mayor Joe Ganim’s administration has touted over the past few years as key to downtown’s ongoing revival, Guede’s market-rate housing — which will also include 7,000 square feet of ground level retail — is closest to becoming reality.
Guedes did not participate in Tuesday’s council teleconference but economic development staff said at the time that they believed his permitting hold-ups had been concluded as of that very day.
Guedes told The Connecticut Post he expected to be able to “just work right through” the winter: “Unless we get a tremendous amount of snow that holds up everything. … The quicker we can get the building up and begin occupancy, the better it is from an investment point.”
He noted that there will be even greater demand for the new apartments because the coronavirus health crisis has been driving migration out of New York City into less-densely populated Fairfield County,…