Media: Officials Closer To Deal On Financing For Film Studio

By JOSEPH A. O’BRIEN JR., Special to The Courant

SOUTH WINDSOR — —Town officials are inching closer to an agreement on the public and private financing for a proposed film studio project in the I-291 corridor.

The total budget for the Connecticut Studios project is roughly $39.2 million. When complete, it will included four sound-stage buildings, a building for set construction, offices, a 150-room hotel, at least one restaurant and some commercial space.

A public incentive package that includes an estimated $10 million in public infrastructure improvements has been discussed by the town council for months. The town intends to issue $14.7 million in tax incremental financing bonds to cover that amount and related expenses, with the developer paying off the bonds with money that would otherwise be owed the town in property taxes on the buildings and land.

The purchase agreement for the property, signed by the town and Connecticut Studios, committed the town to providing a minimum of $25 million to pay for public improvements associated with the project. Town Manager Matthew Galligan, through negotiations with the developer, has been able to lower that figure.

As town officials attempt to reach a financing agreement that taxpayers will find acceptable when the issue goes to referendum in December, other funding for the project includes:

An unnamed bank has agreed to lend $4.79 million for the project.

A proposed $5 million loan from the state Department of Economic and Community Development must first be approved by the State Bond Commission.

At least one resident, Donald Gonsalves, is worried that the town and the developers are trying to build the project “on a shoestring.”

“We have absolutely no financial risk here,” Gonsalves said, but he cautioned that the town should be thinking about its reputation.

Council member Keith Yagaloff is also cautious about the deal. He said that although bond holders, not taxpayers, run the risk of losing money if the developer defaults on the project, he wondered if the town was protected from lawsuits from unhappy bond holders, should the project fail.

Mayor John Pelkey said the project has been “scrubbed” more than any other issue to come before the council.

“Some of these details will change,” Pelkey said. But he urged the council to act on the project before the December referendum.

“We as a council have to do something or the next [step] doesn’t happen,” Pelkey said.


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