July 10, 2019

CT Construction Digest Wednesday July 10, 2019

Watch time-lapse video of I-95 bridge replacement in Stamford
STAMFORD — The state Department of Transportation has released a video that shows a time-lapse of last month’s bridge replacement at Exit 9 in the city.
The video goes on for almost five minutes.
The bridge reconstruction was expected to cause heavy traffic delays on Interstate 95 in the Stamford area, but traffic was ultimately not heavily impacted.
In fact, the $15 million project to replace the bridge near Route 1 was wrapped up earlier than expected on June 9. The weekend closure the week

Derby water tank project hits snag
Jean Falbo-Sosnovich
DERBY — The Planning and Zoning Commission’s recent approval of a million-gallon water storage tank slated for the city’s west side is headed to court.
Roxbury attorney Gregory Cava filed an appeal in Superior Court in Milford last week on behalf of two residents living nearby the tank site. Cava cited several reasons why his clients, Dororthy Marinelli of 116 Chatfield St. and Sharlene McEvoy of 200 Emmett Avenue, aren’t willing to lay out the welcome mat.2.1-acre site, a wooded, northern portion of Nutmeg Avenue at the far end of the Derby High School and Derby Middle School complex, near Coon Hollow Road.            
Cava, in part, alleges the tank, expected to be 57 feet tall, exceeds the commission’s 50-foot maximum regulation for building height; said known wildlife in the area will be driven from the site; a city deed approved some 80 years ago intended the land to remain as a park; that the application basically was “illegal,” in that the city failed to properly put the land out to competitive bid; it fails to meet the city’s Plan of Conservation and Development; and will “destroy” the natural resources there.

Members of the Marinelli family have urged the commission to deny the tank, in favor of an alternate location, as it would be in “direct view of the family home.”The commission unanimously granted approval last month to the Regional Water Authority of South Central Connecticut to build the tank.
Commission Chairman Ted Estwan said Wednesday he wouldn’t comment on specifics, due to the appeal, but said the commission did everything above-board regarding RWA’s application.
“The only thing that I will say is the Derby PZC followed the proper procedures and everything else is a matter of public record via the public hearing process and its own deliberation process that was held in public,” Estwan said.
City Chief of Staff Andrew Baklik said he wasn’t aware of the details of the appeal, but is hopeful the court will uphold the commission’s approval.
“We will have to let the legal proceedings play themselves out,” Baklik said. “Conceivably, I suppose the appeal could delay the construction, but ultimately the mayor’s office is confident in the action of the PZC in approving the RWA application. Hopefully, after the appeal is heard in Milford court, the judge will agree with the approval.”

Many city and fire officials, including Mayor Richard Dziekan and Griffin Hospital President/CEO Patrick Charmel have pushed for the tank over the past year, saying water supply in that area is inadequate, and could jeopardize public safety.
The tank will serve more than 13,000 residents in Ansonia and Derby, including its largest customer, Griffin Hospital.
RWA Public Affairs and Communications Manager Dan Doyle said Wednesday that RWA finalized bid documents and went out to bid for a contractor to the build the tank prior to receiving the appeal.
“We were disappointed to learn that an attorney representing two Derby residents has filed an administrative appeal against the city in an attempt to stop construction of the tank that will protect the public health and safety of over 13,000 residents in the Valley area,” Doyle said. “We have forwarded the appeal to our attorneys for review and to assist us in determining next steps.”
“As we have continued to stress, this tank will help to stabilize pressures, improve fire flows, provide storage to meet peak flows during maximum day demands, and increase the amount of water available for emergencies,” Doyle added, thanking state Sen. George Logan, city and fire officials, and others for their support.

$45M train station project planned for Greenwich
Ken Borsuk
GREENWICH — The Greenwich Transportation Center will undergo a large-scale redevelopment that organizers say will be launched next year through a public-private partnership.
A new train station is to replace the more than 50-year-old facility in central Greenwich. New retail space, a new movie theater complex, pedestrian and commuter pathways and a privately owned public park are to be part of the $45 million project, which is led by the Ashforth Company, the owner of Greenwich Plaza, the mutli-use development on Railroad Avenue that includes the train station. Much of the plaza is slated to be redone.
Darrell Harvey, co-CEO of the Ashforth Company, which he called “committed to Greenwich for multiple generations,” said the project will be the result of a group partnership among Ashforth, the town of Greenwich, Metro-North and the Connecticut Department of Transportation.
“We will create a redevelopment based on a shared vision that will revitalize this complex and the surrounding area and create an exciting new experience for a new generation of Greenwich residents,” he said.
The plan is to begin construction in a little more than a year and have the project completed in about 18 months.
Under the project outlined Tuesday, the current building would be demolished, but temporary access would be set up to give commuters access to the train platform throughout the construction period.
When finished, the project is to include a new station to replace the one on the north side of the tracks, a new station on the south side, expanded pickup and drop-off areas on both sides and new pathways.
Project architect Frank Prial Jr., an associate partner with Beyer Blinder Belle, called the future station “a place to celebrate Greenwich.”
“We see this as a portal,” Prial said. “The original architect of Grand Central Terminal saw that building as a gateway to New York City, and we see that similar opportunity here in Greenwich as well. It will be a generous space. It will be tall. It will be a place of honor and civic grandeur. And it will also be a very functional place where one can very comfortably and easily access trains.”
First Selectman Peter Tesei said the project is the continuation of a successful partnership between the town and the Ashforth Company that resulted in construction of the original station in 1967. He praised the company and the family for what it has done in town, including ongoing support for Greenwich Library and for the municipal pool in Byram.
“This project is really central to the future,” Tesei said. “We talk often in government and political circles about vibrant communities and what makes a vibrant community. We have to focus on economics and economic development“This (station) has really been a hub for Greenwich as it emerged as a suburban community and business center for a lot of corporations, now trending more toward hedge funds, private equity and financial service,” he said. “As we look to the future, we want to retain and enhance the business presence here. And in order to do so, we have to get people here and get them off the highways onto rail. They have to come through a place that’s desirable.”
A new park is planned for the current location of the Bow Tie Cinemas on Railroad Avenue. The theaters are to be replaced by a luxury Bow Tie complex above the existing parking lot on Railroad Avenue. Modern retail space is also planned for along Railroad.
The town of Greenwich’s contribution to the cost of the project will be transferring the air rights it currently owns above the south side of the tracks to Greenwich Plaza, Tesei said, in exchange for the public improvements, including the new park and stations.
As part of this transaction, which would go into effect when the project is done, the town would receive a perpetual easement for the use of all of the A-level commuter parking lot, including the part currently owned by Ashforth.
The deal needs approval from both the Board of Estimate and Taxation and the Representative Town Meeting. Tesei said his goal is to put the issue before the RTM in the fall.
The project must also get town land-use approvals. That work is expected to begin Thursday, when the Board of Selectmen considers whether to send the project to the Planning and Zoning Commission for municipal improvement status. Town Director of Planning and Zoning Katie DeLuca said the project is slated to be heard by the commission on July 30.
Several members of the BET attended the project announcement Tuesday, including Chair Jill Oberlander and Michael Mason, both of whom are running for first selectman. State Rep. Stephen Meskers, D-150, also was there as was state Sen. Alexandra Bergstein, D-36, who is vice chair of the General Assembly’s Transportation Committee.
Bergstein praised the designs for the new train station, saying it would “unlock tremendous economic growth.”
“Greenwich really is the gateway to Connecticut so we need a beautiful, fresh, modern face to show the rest of the state and the East Coast and the region that we are a thriving community and a thriving state,” she said.

Montville data center developer hopes to break ground this fall
Benjamin Kail
Montville — A developer planning a large-scale campus for several data centers on a 300-acre site hopes to break ground on the first two buildings in the fall, setting in motion a 10- to 15-year construction project that officials say could boost the local and regional economy with engineering and technology jobs driven by a burgeoning data market.
The Planning and Zoning Commission in April and late June approved site plans for several large data storage buildings totaling more than 1 million square feet of floor space on a campus between Route 32 and the Thames River, including lots along Route 32, Derry Hill Road and Massapeag Side Road. Each building will include an office, electrical room and data hall housing computer and networking equipment that the developer, Verde Group LLC, and officials say could serve the data needs of government, defense, tech, financial and other firms.
"It takes about two years to build one of these from soup to nuts, hooked up with computers in the building. Eighteen months to build and six to seven months to fit it out," Verde Group LLC CEO Thomas Quinn said in an interview.
Quinn noted that some of the buildings will be hyperscale data centers that could draw major cloud-based companies, while others would serve as co-location facilities renting space to potentially more than a dozen companies in a range of industries that require high-speed data. Verde Group LLC is working on partnerships with multiple companies, but Quinn said it was too early to provide details on any potential partners, clients or total project costs.
While construction could create thousands of temporary jobs over the next decade, Quinn said the data centers' biggest benefit will be bringing ancillary businesses, including tech firm offices, to the region.
"We will draw tech jobs into the state regionally and nearby these data centers. That's been the pattern nationally," he said. "I think it will be a solid thing for Connecticut, which doesn't have any data industry."
As part of an agreement after yearslong negotiations with Mayor Ron McDaniel, and one of the conditions of site plan approval, Verde Group LLC over the last two weeks razed more than a dozen dilapidated houses "and associated outbuildings that have been uninhabitable and in disrepair," McDaniel said Tuesday.
"If this gets fully built out, it will certainly change the landscape of not only Montville but of southeastern Connecticut," he added.
Previous owners and mortgage holders of the site were plagued by bankruptcies and lawsuits, as plans stalled for hotels, golf courses, luxury condominiums, upscale stores and a marina, leaving overgrown plots and empty houses.
McDaniel and other officials have declined to estimate potential property tax revenue for the town from the data center campus, but they have applauded the new development and the demolition of the long-abandoned buildings, which came about a year after a previous owner of the site paid $1.3 million in back taxes owed since 2010.
"This could be a real change for the town of Montville if this really comes to fruition," Town Council Deputy Chairman Wills Pike said Monday night, adding that he was impressed with the developer's "lofty goals" and responsiveness and collaboration with town planners.
The developers are overcoming a lack of frontage along Route 32 — which Town Planner Marcia Vlaun described as a yearslong stumbling block for the site — by purchasing abutting privately owned parcels and land north of Saint Bernard School owned by the Norwich Roman Catholic Diocesan Corporation. Quinn said the first half of the project does not impact wetlands, but the developer in the future will seek approval for site plans closer to the Thames River that could require review by the Inland Wetlands Commission.
Quinn said the developer was drawn to Montville in part due to town officials' willingness to allow for combined plots to help create a large campus site. Quinn added that the area also has good access to electricity — a big demand for big data, as some of the buildings may require up to 48 megawatts of power. Quinn said the cost of utilities can be a drawback in Connecticut, but the developer would buy power under a wholesale rate available through Eversource to customers whose demand equals or exceeds 1 megawatt.
Quinn said the data centers would house gas engine generators, as opposed to diesel, for backup power. He added that with constant and rapid technology advances, the developer "may get halfway through the project and only use half" of the electricity it expects to use based on current estimates.
Plans call for the extension of water, sewer, gas, electric and telecommunications lines, and will require a number of permits, including a state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection stormwater quality permit

Dillon Stadium overhaul nears completion as Hartford Athletic opener looms
Joe Cooper
An almost year-long rebuild of Hartford’s historic Dillon Stadium is nearing the finish line as the Capital City’s new pro soccer club begins play there this weekend.
Construction crews have been working around the clock to prepare the stadium for its reopening on Saturday as the Hartford Athletic of the United Soccer League (USL) face off against the Indy Eleven at 5 p.m.
The Athletic, currently last in USL’s Eastern Conference at 2-14-2, averaged nearly 6,000 fans over seven games at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, where it’s had to play due to construction delays at Dillon that officials have blamed on unforeseen instructure issues at the 84-year-old stadium.
Team officials on Tuesday said they expect a sellout crowd of 5,500 fans for the home opener at Dillon, which in recent years has been home to the Sports and Medical Sciences Academy, and Buckley, Hartford Public and Weaver high school athletics.