Update: On Aug 22 the Board of Selectmen voted two to one in favor of moving forward a Municipal Improvement for the proposed $45 million Greenwich train station redevelopment project with Ashforth Company.
Voting in favor were the two Republican selectmen, Peter Tesei and John Toner. Voting against was Democratic Selectman Sandy Litvack who said he questioned whether the air rights were being sold at the right price. An appraiser hired by the town valued the air rights at $10 million; an appraiser hired by Ashforth appraised them at $7 million.
The project will go before the Planning & Zoning commission, who earlier this month held a hearing on the proposal, but limited comments to the architecture. Ultimately the RTM will vote on whether to approve the project.
On Tuesday, August 27 from 7:00-9:00pm First Selectman Peter Tesei and representatives from Ashforth Company are hosting an informational session at the Town Hall meeting room regarding the proposed Greenwich Transportation Center Redevelopment project.
The session is intended as an opportunity for RTM members to learn about the project, but is open to the public.
Original story, Aug 10:
On Aug 9 Peter Tesei said during his weekly radio show that there remains an open question. A local attorney who represents an unnamed client might be interested in the bidding on the air rights that Ashforth Co would buy from the town as part of the redevelopment.
Tesei said back in 1967 when the Town and Ashforth entered the deal resulting in the train station development, there were three tracts of property and the town owned two.
“Ashforth owned the third piece of the tract of parcel 4 and they gave that to the town with the understanding that the town would enter into a lease-back with the air rights,” he explained. “That having occurred, now they’re looking to us to sell to them so they reinvest and the town contributes to the overall project.”
Tesei said the open question is what if someone else wants to bid? “The town can permit that,” he said. “There is no stipulation saying we cannot. At the same time there is no requirement we have to.”
As to whose decision it would be, Tesei said that on Thursday the town attorney said the decision would be up to the three member Board of Selectmen because they are the initiating board. The RTM’s role is to review whatever agreement the Selectmen prepare and decide whether to amend, and when to approve or not.
“And the BET was not required to be included, but we chose to include them because of the financial elements and because they have a keen interest,” Tesei continued. “In some respects I’m glad the BET is paying attention to the ledger. I said several years ago the BET has such a focus on guidelines and not the grand list or changes in property development and the Planning & Zoning’s ability to amend regulations which really has an economic development impact on the Town.”
Tesei said there might be implications if the town opened up the air rights to a bid, especially if another entity than Ashforth bid higher.
“Even if someone were to be awarded it through a process other than Ashforth, they still have to stick to the terms remaining in the agreement,” he said, adding that in 2037 there is a chance for a 20 year renewal which takes the agreement through 2057.
“We’ll see where it goes in the next several meetings,” he said.
While the MI is up in the air, on July 30 the Planning and Zoning commission went ahead and held a public hearing and asked the public to focus on the proposed architecture.
Everyone who spoke said they were grateful to Ashforth for their significant investment in Greenwich – the project is anticipated to cost $45 million – but there were some flashpoints over the look of the development, particularly the tall “glass cube” that would rise 50 ft (the current max height allowed is 40 ft.)
Several people noted that design is ultra modern, but public input into the POCD process emphasizes retaining Greenwich’s New England character.
The Town of Greenwich website is tracking the meetings at which the project is on the agenda.
Read GFP coverage on the train station redevelopment project: