The Big Dogs Of Charles Pointe

The Bridgeport News

by Jeff Toquinto, NEWS EDITOR

Bridgeport (Thursday, October 2, 2003)

I think I’ve went on record before as saying I’m a bit of a pessimist. I’m that way for sound reasons.

In fairness, I’m not that way because I believe if something can go wrong it will. I’m that way because if something can go wrong, it already has went wrong.

Due to that nature, I was skeptical back in October 2000 when the folks at Charles Pointe announced their grandiose plans for a $750 million development that was in fact a planned community. Even if the development would have had a $7.5 million price tag, I probably would have been skeptical. But $750 million, man, that’s a whole lot of greenbacks.

My skepticism grew as nothing by way of actual construction was taking place as the weeks turned to months and the months turned into years. Sure, I knew a lot of earth was being moved and sewage and water was being installed in areas that could easily be extended to the main parts of Charles Pointe. But, the lack of bricks and mortar made me wonder if the $750 million figure could ever be reached in the 10 to 20 year time frame the project’s developer, Genesis Partners, discussed back in 2000.

That skepticism grew larger when two rather large ticket items – a new United Hospital Center and a permanent Biometrics Fusion Center – opted to go to nearby locations near Interstate 79 and the FBI instead of Charles Pointe. Those projects alone would have amounted to hundreds of millions of dollars.

Without them, certainly, nothing would happen there that could even come close to approaching the three-quarter of a billion dollar figure listed above, right? Apparently, that’s wrong.

Last week, at the invitation of Genesis Partners, I was on hand to meet with several of the consultants who are involved with the project to be briefed on the status of the development. And just who was involved was, to say the least, more than just impressive.

Inside the conference room at the nearby Hampton Inn were representatives of some of the largest firms in the country, as well as the world, who were involved with the project. Believe me, if this was a meeting of the United Nations, then I was sitting in with the Security Council.

On top of that, not only were the firms on hand impressive, but the top guns of these firms were there. We’re talking managing partners, chief executive officers, presidents and so on and so forth. Those folks just don’t show up for a meeting if there’s not something substantial at stake and a significant return to be realized somewhere down the road.

How do I know this? As I’ve mentioned before, prior to taking the position as editor of this publication, I worked for an engineering and planning firm based in Maryland that had an office here in Bridgeport. It was a rather large firm that had hundreds of employees, several branches and millions of dollars worth of projects to its credit.

Whenever that firm was interested in obtaining a new client, winning over a client, or keeping a group involved with a substantial project happy, it was safe to say one of the company’s partners would be involved in the process to reach those goals. If it was a tier or two down in importance, then one of the company’s handful of associates would handle the festivities. If it was a minor job that wouldn’t make or break the payroll, chances were good that yours truly would be trotted out as part of the team to make things work.

That’s the way things work in most of those companies. The more importance the project has, the bigger the dog that will be directly involved. Last week, I was in a room with a virtual kennel of big dogs, none of whom were the type to stay on the porch.

Although I’ve said many times over I believe projects at Charles Pointe will soon take place, the personal skepticism that always preceded those announcements is now gone. It’s probably safe to say things will likely stay that way until I see someone like myself involved with promised future briefings on the status of Charles Pointe.