Fort Trumbull Hotel Project Approved

November 30, 2001
Reprinted with Permssion by The Day, 11/30/2001, By Izaskun E. Larraneta

New London — The Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved special-use permits Thursday that would allow construction of a hotel and conference center, apartments and office space in Fort Trumbull. The commission found that the project complies with all city and state statutes and provides public access to the waterfront. The commission, however, did place several conditions on the application, including that it reserve an area for public restrooms and have appropriate signs.

The project calls for the construction of a four-star hotel with 109 rooms, with the possibility to expand to more than 200 rooms. The restaurant, with a bar and lounge, would be parallel to the waterfront. A fitness center accessible through the hotel would have a pool, spa and exercise room with public memberships available. The site would have a terraced parking lot with 593 spaces.

Marty Jones, president of Corcoran Jennison, prime developer for the site, said that she was excited and relieved that the project received approval. "It's a major milestone for us," Jones said. "A unanimous vote shows that there is strong endorsement from the city."

The commission also approved the NLDC's plans to develop a $1 million, 1,000-foot public access walkway along the entire waterfront between the Coast Guard Station and the Shaw's Cove railroad bridge. The work consists of paved walkway construction, installation of lawn and landscaping within the project area, and installation of site amenities, such as lighting, benches, fencing, railings and public restrooms. Corcoran Jennison recently signed a 99-year lease agreement with New London Development Corp. The 29-acre development site is part of the 90-acre Fort Trumbull Development area, for which the state has provided about $78 million to buy land and prepare it for development.

The construction of the hotel and conference center and marina is the first phase of the $115 million, five-phase project. Construction should begin next September and be completed by March 2004. The second phase — the renovation of an existing office building — is scheduled to begin in January 2003 and be completed by August 2003. Third, fourth and fifth phases would include new housing and office space. Corcoran Jennison's project also includes the renovation of Building 2 on the former Naval Undersea Warfare Center site. Building 2, a 90,000-square-foot brick structure, will have 86,500 square feet of rentable office space with about an acre of green space. Preliminary plans call for a bandstand, lawn and garden that would connect a river walk to the hotel courtyard.

The commission also said that they did not agree with recent appeals filed by the Fort Trumbull Conservancy that said the project was environmentally unsound. In other matters, Chairman Joseph Heap thanked outgoing commission Vice Chairman Donald Harrington and commission member Patricia Romano for their service to the panel. Harrington has served for more than 15 years and Romano for more than 14 years.