Station Place Redevelopment Next Up for State-Owned Parcel in Stamford


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STAMFORD – A decade after plans for the site failed, the state Department of Transportation is again poised to develop what it has called its choicest slice of real estate, the site of the decrepit rail commuter garage on Station Place.

During a ceremony Monday to open a new garage on South State Street, transportation Commissioner Garrett Eucalitto called the Station Place site “one of the most important parcels in the state.”

After the old garage is demolished, Eucalitto said, his agency can begin transit-oriented development, a term for dense housing or commercial projects built close to a transit center.

Eucalitto’s comments echoed James Redeker, who was commissioner under the previous governor, Dan Malloy, when the agency was working with private developer John McClutchy of JHM Group on a transit-oriented project for the state-owned land at Station Place.

Redeker said it was “the most valuable piece of property in the state,” as far as the department was concerned. McClutchy’s blueprint for a 1-million-square-foot housing, office, retail and hotel complex was chosen mostly because of the amount of revenue it would generate for department, according to the agency’s request for proposals.

McClutchy had trouble with his partners and the deal died in 2016.

But during a ribbon-cutting Monday for the state-of-the-art South State Street garage, Eucalitto, Gov. Ned Lamont, Mayor Caroline Simmons and other officials had little to say about what comes next for Station Place.

Instead, they focused on the $100 million new garage, funded with state bonds. It has 914 parking spaces and 92 electric-vehicle charging stations, along with 120 spots for bicycles. It includes an enclosed pedestrian bridge over Washington Boulevard that leads to the station’s Track 5 platform for boarding trains to Grand Central Terminal.

Eucalitto said in a statement that the new garage “is a key component of the Stamford Transportation Center, enables opportunity for transit-oriented development, and sets the stage for the rehabilitation of the station.”

He and Lamont released the department’s master plan for the Stamford train station, Connecticut’s busiest. The master plan lays out recommendations for expanding and modernizing the station. 

Transportation officials said demolition of the old garage is set to begin in March and be completed by September.

In a statement released after the ribbon cutting, the department briefly touched on those plans.

“The Connecticut Department of Transportation soon plans to issue a request for qualifications for a transit-oriented development project to be created at the site of the original garage property, which will complement additional investments that the City of Stamford has been making to improve properties and infrastructure around the station. This joint state and city endeavor is expected to drive further economic and community development for Stamford and the entire state,” the statement reads.

But Stamford residents may be as wary of Department of Transportation plans for Station Place today as they were 10 years ago.

John Sabia, who rides a train from Stamford to Grand Central a few times a month, said officials should be less concerned about development in Stamford – more than 12,000 housing units went up between 2009 and 2022 – than about navigating the narrow streets around the train station, congested with train commuters, taxi cabs, ride services, buses and shuttles.

“Oh, no, not more development. Not here,” Sabia said. “You can’t get around that train station as it is. It’s crazy to build more, especially since more things are going up all the time.”

To his point, the Zoning Board Monday cleared a hurdle for an 18-story, 395-unit apartment building proposed by Heyman Properties for Canal and John streets nearby. 

The idea behind transit-oriented development is that people who live near transit hubs will drive less or even give up their cars, though a recently released traffic study commissioned by the city found that something else may be happening.

Between 2010 and 2020, Stamford’s population grew 11.5 percent, to 134,800 people, according to the study, and most of the new residents are living downtown and in the South End, the neighborhoods closest to the train station.

During that decade, however, the number of Stamford households without a car shrank from 11 percent to 9 percent, according to the study. And 74 percent of people who work in Stamford drove to their jobs. Only 7 percent took the train, the study found.

Based on the state’s first attempt to build transit-oriented development on its Station Place parcel, there are many questions about what may come next for Stamford.

Will the Department of Transportation again partner with a private developer? Will the city have any say in deciding the type of project that will be built on Station Place? Will the project offer more of the high-priced luxury units that have dominated the new housing market in Stamford since 2009? Will it include deeply affordable rentals — 40 percent of the area mean income and less? Will it include opportunities for home ownership? The Department of Transportation took a portion of South State Street by eminent domain to build the new garage; could that happen again with other city property for this project? Who will earn the profits from this project? In the request for proposals officials put out to private developers 10 years ago, they stated they would choose a project largely based on the amount of revenue it would generate for the Department of Transportation. Will that be department’s motive this time? Since the project will be built on state land, will it be exempt from city taxes, or will the state give the city annual payments in lieu of taxes, as is sometimes the practice?

Asked the questions Tuesday, transportation Communications Director Josh Morgan said it’s too soon to answer them. 

Morgan reiterated that the department will soon issue a request for qualifications, which is used to gather information about interested contractors before inviting them to submit detailed proposals.  

The request “will focus on future economic and community development options” around the Stamford train station and will “consider the city’s overall development plans,” Morgan said. DOT “and the City of Stamford will continue working hand in hand as this process moves forward,” he said

Angela Carella

For 36 years prior to joining the Connecticut Examiner, Angela Carella was a beat reporter, investigative reporter, editor and columnist for the Stamford Advocate. Carella reports on Stamford and Fairfield County. T: 203 722 6811.