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MIDDLETOWN - The common council's economic development committee has recommended a local firm, Centerplan Companies, to form a redevelopment vision of Metro Square and its two downtown blocks.

The committee interviewed four development firms Monday and Tuesday after receiving applications from 10 firms.

Planning Director William Warner said the economic development committee voted unanimously to recommend city leaders begin negotiations with the duo of Centerplan and New York-based Leyland Alliance for the project.

The common council last year approved spending $25,000 to hire a consultant. That funding will pay for an overall recommendation for how to develop the roughly 8 acres around Metro Square including the site of the city's parking structure behind the Superior Court building and the auto repair facility on the corner of Dingwall and deKoven drives.

Warner has compared the potential for Metro Square to the thriving Blue Back Square in West Hartford.

Metro Square and the auto repair property are privately owned, but officials said setting a goal for how the properties could be developed in the future would ensure a successful project.

"This type of development is the wave of the future and it is incumbent on us as a city to design and promote the type of development we would like to see around our new parking facility," Mayor Daniel Drew said in a news release. "This is a proactive approach, rather than waiting for some random developer to come forward with a development that might not fit the goals of the community."

Leyland Alliance is the developer of the Storrs Center project near the University of Connecticut. Centerplan is currently developing a downtown New Haven mixed-use building with parking, retail and 160 luxury apartments. The two firms submitted an application together apparently in a joint venture.

"I was very impressed at the interest in coming to do something in Middletown and the excitement all the proposals put forth in doing this urban design project," said Councilman Gerald Daley, chairman of the economic development committee.

The committee's recommendation will now be considered by the Professional Services Committee, which is made up of the mayor, the finance director and the department head - the planning director in this case.

The committee also interviewed Amenta/Emma Architects of Hartford, the Cecil Group, based in Boston, and Street Works Studio of Port Chester, New York.

Centerplan is the developer of the RiteAid store and office space and the DaVita Dialysis Center on the Southern end of Main Street. The company also proposed a retail and restaurant project on Washington Street between Pearl and High streets in 2012 but the idea was met with resistance from the community, and a nearby resident filed a lawsuit to halt the project.


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Centerplan Companies LLC, founded in 2006, offers services in real estate development, construction, and solar integration on properties throughout New England. The firm is developing a variety of retail, commercial, urban mixed-use, and residential properties

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