AP NEWS

Charter HQ’s Stamford expansion gets OK

April 9, 2019

STAMFORD — Charter Communications won the right to expand its new South End headquarters this week after the Zoning Board uneasily agreed to let the telecommunications giant out of earlier requirements to provide parking spaces for train commuters.

The approval means the Fortune 500 company will have two buildings for a total of 777,000 square feet of glass-sheathed office space on the Gateway garage site in Stamford’s South End, just south of Interstate 95 and rail lines heading to the Stamford Transportation Center blocks away.

The company and its landlord, Building and Land Technology, which is behind the HQ build out, say the development is a more than $400 million investment in the city and the 1,300 workers now here could soon grow to 3,000 once the new buildings open.

No matter the investment size, it was the parking space pullback that has long been the most controversial part of the project. The bulk of the Zoning Board deliberations Monday during a four-hour stemmed from board members seeking a compromise.

For hours, they discussed how to ensure commuters wouldn’t be left stranded if Charter bought out of its obligation to house the spaces before a 960-spot state garage would open nearby leaving commuters scrambling.

Charter offered $6.6 million for the spots.

The Zoning Board eventually allowed for the buyout, but mandated BLT and Charter hire a parking management consultant to ensure everything goes smoothly.

Charter and BLT had initially hoped for the $6.6 million to go toward the hire and interim parking plan but the Zoning Board said no.

The manager should ensure that interim commuter displacement — from the time the Charter goes in and the South State Street garage opens — goes smoothly and the eventual full move to the state garage is uncomplicated.

The manager will also stay on the job for three months after the new garage opens at BLT’s cost, according to the conditions of approval hashed out Monday.

In the meantime, BLT must find 500 spots for the drivers is is putting to the curb.

And if those spots fall outside of a quarter-mile radius from the station, shuttles must be provided to the train station, the Zoning Board decided.

Still, members hoped replacement spots would fall within the quarter mile, fearing a jitney addition to Stamford’s already crowded streets.

More than 60 different shuttles take passengers from the train station to businesses, apartment complexes, hotels and the University of Connecticut’s Stamford campus on weekdays. In all, the shuttles make 400 one-stop trips daily.

“To have more shuttle vans going to the train station to save a hundred yards of people walking is really overcomplicating here,” said board member Keith Silver.

The $6.6 million isn’t the only cash the city gets out of the agreement.

The city will see an additional $3 million for affordable housing and $2 million for improvements to Washington Boulevard and Pulaski Street, where the new HQ buildings now rise.

barry.lytton@stamfordadvocate.com; 203-964-2263; @bglytton