STAMFORD, Conn. — After three years of negotiations, the state of Connecticut has ended talks with a developer for a proposed half-billion-dollar transit-oriented project at the Stamford Transportation Center, the state said in a statement Wednesday.
It would not be in the best interest of the state to proceed any further with negotiations with the Stamford Manhattan Development Ventures, said Transportation Commissioner James Redeker and Office of Policy and Management Secretary Ben Barnes.
The Connecticut Department of Transportation is now initiating the design of a new 1,000-space garage for South State Street, the statement said. The new facility, expected to open in 2021, will have walkways connecting to all platforms at the station.
The cost is estimated at $53 million to construct the new garage and demolish the existing garage. The site of the old garage will remain under CTDOT ownership. The existing garage will remain open until the new garage is completed.
“The train station is one of the most critical assets in our community so I applaud the state for making the decision to rethink the project," said Stamford Mayor David Martin. "I welcome the opportunity to collaborate with the state on the design of the new parking garage to address the needs and concerns of residents and commuters. While there are still many details to be worked out, I am hopeful that construction of a new garage will begin once all of the details have been worked out.
"This also gives us the opportunity to work with the state to help design and implement a 21st-century train station that fits the needs of Stamford and the state in the future.”
Redeker said CTDOT and SMDV "have gone to great lengths" to develop solutions posed by the proposed project.
“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. In the end, we decided it was in the best interest of the state to terminate the process,” he said.
“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.”
Jim Cameron, founder of the Commuter Action Group, said that for years he has followed plans to try to replace the old Stamford train station garage with an office-condo-hotel development through a public-private partnership.
"The process from the RFP to choosing a developer to contract negotiations was done in complete secrecy with no public input," Cameron said in a statement. "CDOT never asked commuters what they'd like and never explained how they chose the developer, SMDV. Commuters were justly suspicious."
After the new garage is built at South State Street and Washington Boulevard, the old crumbling garage will be demolished. But "what that land will be used for remains to be seen," he said.
"It is sad that we wasted three years making this decision. We could have had a new garage by now," Cameron said.