By Jeff Toquinto
BRIDGEPORT NEWS EDITOR
Thursday, August 24, 2004
The Exponent Telegram
BRIDGEPORT – In another sign that a new multi-million dollar convention center will soon be built within the municipal limits, City Manger Kim Haws said city officials would be meeting this morning with the architect of the center to go over details of the facility.
Haws told city Council Monday night that staff members would be meeting VOA Architects of Chicago to go over many of the more fine details needed to get started with the $3 million Bridgeport Convention Center. The center will be located at the Charles Pointe development.
“We’re down to developing a list of materials that will coordinate with the hotel portion of this project,” said Haws. “We’re talking about color design and materials. We’re that far along.”
The hotel is the Wingate Inn. The $8.7 million hotel, which will have 120 rooms throughout its five stories, will be located directly beside the convention center. The city is hoping to have the convention center open at roughly the same time as the hotel.
There is no definite word on when that opening will take place. However, Haws said dirt work for the foundation of the hotel is done, the infrastructure is just about in place and the subgrade is in for the roads for the two facilities.
After construction, the 15,000 square foot center will actually be owned by the Bridgeport Development Authority. The BDA, however, will lease it to the city of Bridgeport. Earlier this summer, the city arranged for a sub-lease of the center to CP Hospitality, LLC, an entity associated with the Corton family. The Cortons handle Genesis Partners, the group responsible for the overall development of Charles Pointe.
The convention center will be funded with $1.5 million of grant money awarded by the state Economic Development Grant Committee. The remaining $1.5 million will be paid for by a 20-year bond issue that will be repaid with 50 percent of the city's annual take of the hotel-motel tax.
Land needed for the center and its parking – 1.5 acres – was donated by Genesis Partners. That land, according to officials with Genesis Partners, has a value in the range of $750,000.
“We’re working extremely well with the developer on this project,” said Haws of Genesis Partners. “ … It’s been a pleasure working with them, and we’re all getting results.”