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Few developers submit proposals to turn dilapidated Seaside into hotel

August 24, 2018

After a monthlong extension of the deadline for developers to submit their proposals for the imagined future of the former Seaside Regional Center as a luxury hotel, the bids are in. 

Fewer than five parties submitted proposals to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection before the 4 p.m. Friday deadline — a number that DEEP spokesman Lee Sawyer said was in line with what state officials expected. He did not say exactly how many submissions the department received because officials have not yet evaluated the documents to see how many meet the guidelines set out in the state’s request for proposals.

“We haven’t screened them to see how complete they are,” he said.

The state’s request, released in March, required at least a 50-year lease of the long-unused buildings for a hotel with up to 100 rooms, and required the developer to leave the rest of the park and beach open to the public. The decision to seek proposals from developers was the latest in a yearslong effort by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration to reimagine the abandoned buildings and grounds on the Long Island Sound.

The request, which reflected a lengthy public comment process and the January decision to pursue a partnership with a private developer, asked for proposals that “offer amenities such as dining, meeting space, and a spa, and make the site an attractive destination that works in harmony with adjacent neighbors, the community, and nearby park properties.”

It also required the developers to commit to renovating the four historic buildings at Seaside, which were designed by the famed architect Cass Gilbert in the 1930s and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.

The responses from developers will be the first test of whether DEEP’s plan to turn Seaside into a privately run hotel on the state park property could be a success, amid skepticism from Waterford and state officials.

None of the developers that submitted proposals to the state did so before the original July deadline, Sawyer said, and several asked for additional time. Days before the original July 27 deadline, state officials gave developers another month, until Friday at 4 p.m., to submit their proposals.

The submissions all came in before Friday, Sawyer said.

DEEP officials will evaluate the submissions over the next six weeks and plan to hold a public meeting presenting finalists and choose a proposal this fall.

m.shanahan@theday.com 

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