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Bridgewater relocation re-launch? Rumors of new Stamford plan make waves

Published 6:01 am, Friday, October 11, 2013
  • A view of Bridgewater Associates' current headquarters on a leafy campus off Glendinning Place in Westport. Photo: Contributed Photo / Westport News contributed
    A view of Bridgewater Associates' current headquarters on a leafy campus off Glendinning Place in Westport. Photo: Contributed Photo

 

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After a developer scratched a plan for a new boatyard in the Shippan area of Stamford, rumors are circulating that a waterfront parcel on Southfield Avenue in the city has changed hands, possibly with a link to re-launch the plan to bring hedge fund giant Bridgewater Associates to Stamford from its current Westport headquarters.

Last month, Stamford-based Building and Land Technology abandoned a two-month effort to strike a licensing agreement with the city, following public outcry against it. Dozens of local boaters and residents packed three separate public hearings on the issue to blast the developer's plans for a new boatyard. BLT demolished the former Bateman Way boatyard without proper zoning approvals in late 2011, angering boat owners. They were further incensed that the replacement boatyard BLT proposed was less than half the size of the old boatyard, and by the ramifications that would have.

William Wagner, a longtime boater and owner of a real estate agency in Stamford, said this week he has heard that either Carl Kuehner, who runs BLT, or Ray Dalio, the CEO of Bridgewater, now may be involved in an effort to acquire the land at 28 Southfield Ave. for use as a boatyard.

"The property seems very likely to be in play, and people are saying it could be Kuehner or Dalio," Wagner said.

Reached by email Wednesday, BLT general counsel and spokesman John Freeman said BLT is not involved in any purchase of 28 Southfield Ave.

Bridgewater Associates declined comment on whether it is considering buying the parcel in the Waterside neighborhood,which was approved as a part of a housing development in late 2011.

The owner and development team that have been working to build a housing complex on the Southfield Avenue land are scheduled to go before the city's zoning board later this month, when the board members will decide the outcome of their request the team has made for a second one-year extension on their permits to develop the site.

Parcel was previously discussed

Last year Mayor Michael Pavia and other city officials considered the parcel and the nearby site of the former Southfield Packaging company as potential sites for a replacement boatyard for the old Brewer's Yacht Haven.

The listed owner of the former site of the lot 28 Southfield Ave. in city land-use records is 28 Southfield Development LLC, a real estate entity controlled by Hudson Realty Capital in New York City.

In late 2011, the zoning board approved the property at 28 Southfield Ave. for a residential complex comprised of four four-story buildings with 256 units, most which would have one or two bedrooms.

Frank Fedeli, Stamford's citizen's service supervisor, said he and Pavia discussed the possible inclusion of the site in plans by BLT to build a new boatyard in order to proceed with land-use reviews for the proposed Bridgewater project.

Fedeli said he has also heard repeated reports about the sale of the property for the past month and a half.

"I was told maybe six weeks ago the site has been sold," Fedeli said. "During the process and discussions of the sites people and state officials were receptive to the idea of looking at that site as an alternate boatyard site but about six months ago it just stopped and the process at 205 Magee Ave. began."

Opposition still likely

Maureen Boylan, an organizer of Save Our Boatyard and a Shippan resident who has called for BLT to re-establish the demolished marina on Bateman Way said that she expected Dalio or BLT to pursue the property on Southfield Avenue after the outpouring of negative reaction to the earlier boatyard plan at the public hearings.

Boylan said Southfield Avenue, which sits next to concrete and asphalt manufacturer O&G Industries, has most if not all of the navigational drawbacks as the Magee Avenue plan.

"There is a lot of talk about this and I believe this would essentially provide a Plan B for BLT," Boylan said. "If it is true, they can certainly try to present it as a boatyard but it doesn't mean that it would necessarily work either."

Similar to the site at 205 Magee Ave. adjacent to the city's Water Pollution Control Authority, the presence of the concrete plant and attendant noise would motivate boaters to adamantly oppose a revamped replacement yard plan there, she said.

"The only feasible place for the boatyard is the boatyard site," Boylan said.

Calls to Heather Mutterperl, a managing director at Hudson Realty Capital, were not returned on Wednesday and Thursday.