Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced the formation of a 13-member board Thursday aimed at “reigniting” the effort to encourage development in the Hartford area.
The Capital Region Development Authority will place the management of regional assets like the XL Center, Convention Center, and Rentschler Field under one roof, Malloy said at a Capitol press conference. The new organization will coordinate with state and municipal leaders as well as the business community to jump-start development in the region, he said.
“I think this demonstrates the level of commitment in the broader Capital Region to the development within Hartford and understanding that it plays a role in the success of each of the adjoining or regional communities,” he said.
One of the things the new group will address if legislation creating it passes, will be the future of the XL Center. The lease on the building, currently held by Northland Development, expires in 2013. At that point the XL Center will be owned by the City of Hartford.
“Quite frankly we know that we’re coming up to a point where we’re going to have to make some additional commitment to the XL Center, if Hartford’s going to continue to have an XL Center,” Malloy said.
In November, the governor passed on a $105 million proposal by Hockey promoter and Hartford cheerleader Howard Baldwin to modernize and revitalized the XL Center.
Roy Occhiogrosso, Malloy’s senior communications adviser, said that the governor would like to see something productive happen with the XL Center to make it viable, but Baldwin’s plan required the state to invest too much money.
“Listen the XL Center needs to stand on its own. I can’t imagine a Hartford without an XL Center or its equivalent, but whether any particular proposal at this early date is the right one, clearly I’m not making that judgment,” Malloy said.
On Thursday, he said the new group and the city of Hartford will have to look at the facility’s management as its legal status changes. Malloy said he has already been in discussion with the current management. However, he wouldn’t elaborate on what, if any, investment the state might make in the facility in the future.
“This is a critical time for Hartford, specifically with respect to the XL Center, I am cognizant that levels of investment are going to be required and we’re creating a vehicle with which to address that issue,” he said, describing the process as a “work in progress.”
If the group determines it wants to invest money in the facility, the governor said he would work with the legislature on the issue.
He said one of the goals of the new board will be to get the different assets that will fall under it to stop competing with each other. He said there should be a unified approach to encourage economic development, tourism and convention trade in the region.
“I don’t view that having these venues, for instance, in competition makes any sense at all,” he said.
The new board will expand on the responsibilities and absorb the revenue stream currently dedicated to the Capital City Economic Development Authority, he said.
Malloy will appoint four people to the board, which will also include the commissioners of the departments of Transportation, and Economic and Community Development. It will also include the secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, as well as the mayors of East Hartford and Hartford. The Hartford mayor will make two appointments and both chambers of the legislature will appoint a member.
The creation of the board is just one of the proposals Malloy will put forth when he gives his state of the state address on Feb. 8.