BRISTOL – The Bristol Board of Finance discussed the ongoing development of downtown, where officials said they felt more than $50 million of private dollars had been invested in addition to coming grant funds.
The board approved a motion for an appropriation of $4.6 million to be utilized for capital improvements in the Centre Square redevelopment project, money coming from a recent state funding transfer. This will be brought before the joint meeting of the City Council and Board of Finance for a final decision.
“This is a great tribute to what’s going to happen in this particular area,” said Board of Finance Chair John Smith.
Economic and Community Development Director Justin Malley said that this is “the culmination of boards and administration over the years and supporting the (Bristol Economic and Community Development Office) as we plot forward on Centre Square.”
“We actually applied for this funding years ago and admittedly it was too early and (there were other) challenges,” he continued. “One of the first meetings that the mayor and I had, we talked about going after this again now that we were in a better place from a development perspective and that’s what we did.”
Malley was asked by a board member if the private investment of the Centre Square project was around $50 million and he replied it would likely be well higher than that when completed.
“With what Bristol Health invested already and what may come in the future from the Carrier project and when we see what may come from Parcel 10 and then when you look at what Wheeler is looking to do as well, we’ll easily hit that number,” said Malley.
The director said that with ongoing work, he felt the state was impressed with what was happening in Bristol.
Malley said a parking garage slated to be built behind the Bristol Police Department would take the “lion’s share” of the awarded $4.6 million. The rest would be reserved for a potential greenspace effort in Centre Square.
“We’re going on our best estimates,” said Malley of information received from engineering firms. He said that ideally building materials will come down before any further development is made.
“I do hope people appreciate the fact that across the street is going to come to fruition in the very near future and those of us that saw what was there a long time ago may live long enough to see something grow,” said Smith.
Board of Finance member Marie O’Brien expressed approval of the parking garage plan as spaces in Centre Square will be displaced due to coming construction.