Photojournalist, Nader Abu-Rabei
Residents say the location where Bridgewater Associates wants to build its new headquarters should remain a boatyard. The company will get tax incentives from the state in exchange for creating new jobs.
One of the world's leading hedge funds is planning to leave Westport and relocate its headquarters to Stamford as part of a plan that's outraged local boaters and other residents.
Developers plan to build a new headquarters for Bridgewater Associates on a 14-acre waterfront site that would be part of the larger Harbor Point redevelopment project.
However, zoning regulations call for the location to serve as a boatyard and residents and members of the city's zoning board expected it would remain that way.
"To blatantly do this with their arrogance is just unacceptable," said Maureen Boylan of the group Save Our Boatyard.
Gov. Dannel Malloy announced the planned deal in a news conference near the site in Stamford.
In exchange for creating up to 1,000 new jobs within 10 years and retaining its current workforce of 1,225 workers, the company will get up to $115 million in grants, loans, and tax breaks from the state.
Malloy acknowledged the controversy during his announcement and said, "This is subject to local approval. The state certainly is not telling Stamford what it has to do."
The city still has to approve the project and has been at odds with the developers, Building and Land Technology, over the property.
Last year, BLT tore the existing boatyard down to make repairs at the site. The city ordered them to build a temporary marina there until another permanent working boatyard could be built.
Last month, when developers still had not submitted plans for a permanent boatyard, the Zoning Board issued a cease and desist order for the site.
"A plan that doesn't include a boatyard is a big surprise because there was no indication that a boatyard would be eliminated," said Barry Michelson, a member of the Stamford Zoning Board.
The Governor says his office will work with the city to find another location for the marina in Stamford. Residents say there is no other suitable place.
"Just because the Governor asks for it doesn't mean he's going to get it," said Boylan.
If the city approves the project, the Governor says Bridgewater Associates is hoping to move into its new headquarters in 2016.