The developer of planned outlet shops at Rentschler Field in East Hartford announced Monday that they have cancelled the project for the second time in less than a year.
Gary Skoien, Horizon Group Properties CEO, said in a statement that stock market declines and a tough retail environment were factors in the company’s decision to seemingly permanently cancel its plans for the 282,000-square-foot retail center.
“This was an extremely difficult decision for us, because we believe that the project would (have been) a success, but unfortunately circumstances beyond our control affected our ability to move forward,” Skoien said.
The proposed project was to span about 40 acres and include 70 shops, along with restaurants, a children’s play area and a central courtyard with a fireplace, according to the Hartford Courant. It would have been the first retail development on Rentschler Field’s property since hunting, fishing and camping supply store Cabela’s opened there in 2007.
The project would have created thousands of jobs and generated an estimated $223 million in state taxes over 20 years, according to WFSB.
East Hartford Mayor Marcia Leclerc described the project to the Courant as being “in limbo” and having “taken many turns over the past several years.” Leclerc said its cancellation will allow the town to pursue other opportunities.
“We will begin discussions again with (land owner Pratt & Whitney) in regards to their property and champion development opportunities supporting projects that will add to the redevelopment of the area and bring positive economic impact to our community,” Leclerc said.
The project was initially announced last August and scheduled to be completed by November 2018, according to the Courant. It first appeared to be dead about two weeks after the groundbreaking last October due to Horizon being short $10 million, but was back on days later in November 2017, according to the Courant.
“For the last five days we have been working on a plan to mitigate the impact of the $10 million reduction of loan proceeds from our lender,” Skoien wrote in an email to Leclerc last November. “In all my many years, we have never had a lender do this so late in the game.”
Skoien said on Monday that after the project was first delayed, Horizon needed all the retailers to recommit to the project with no changes in the economic terms of their leases, but that didn’t happen.
“This is sad news, not only for us, but for United Technologies, the residents of East Hartford and the State of Connecticut,” Skoien said.
Gabriella DeBenedictis is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.