Plans in the Works for East Hartford Shopping Center, Casino

A new outdoor shopping mall and casino is officially one step closer to opening in East Hartford.

The town’s planning commission approved the proposals Wednesday night.

East Hartford plans to call its new shopping center The Outlet Shoppes at Rentschler Field, which will be located on Silver Lane, next to Cabellas. The 425,000 square-foot mall will hold about 90 retailers and several restaurants.

Chicago-based Horizon Group Properties Incorporated is funding the $100-million project.

"They need something like that where you can go shopping or you can do something instead of going to Manchester or going to East Windsor, South Windsor places like that," said East Hartford resident Wendy Lewis.

The developer has signed leases with businesses, but the names cannot be released yet.

"What this means to the region and more specifically to East Hartford – it’s about 3,000 jobs. Especially in a town that has a high unemployment rate, we’re really looking to have that for many as an opportunity for residents," said East Hartford Mayor Marcia Leclerc.

Farther down on Silver Lane sits a boarded-up movie theater, which the city hopes to replace with a casino filled with 1,000 gaming machines and several restaurants and bars.

The casino is projected to cost at least $200 million and would bring an additional 240 jobs.

"There’s a lot of people that have to go into the city or even farther away, so this is really great. Maybe a lot of the local people can get a job here,” said Jane Turner, of East Hartford.

The mayor believes developments along the Silver Lane corridor will also be a catalyst to bringing people to Pratt and Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field, which she says has been underutilized.

The mall will open in April 2017.

An opening date for the casino is still in the works.

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