The vision of a LIVE, WORK, AND PLAY neighborhood on Bridgeport’s East Side peninsula known as Steelpointe Harbor continues to take shape. Soon, residential buildings will join the marina, retail, and restaurant establishments there as well as a burgeoning marine industry across the harbor.
The harbor’s developer, Bridgeport Landing Development (BLD) has announced a new partnership with Flaherty & Collins, an Indiana-based multi-family housing sector developer. Through this relationship the first 420 market rate apartments on the Steelpointe waterfront will begin construction as soon as the final City and State reviews are completed.
Flaherty & Collins’ development projects are located primarily in the Midwest with a few East Coast properties; however, this will be their first project in the Northeast. BLD is delighted to be working with this highly respected established company now in the Bridgeport market. The overall cost of this first residential phase is estimated to be 200 million dollars.
“This is a truly unique and exciting project and partnership for us,” said Ryan Cronk, principal of Flaherty & Collins Properties. “Between the City of Bridgeport and RCI, we’re really building something transformative at Steelpointe Harbor… This is just what this burgeoning area needs.”
The residential buildings will have waterfront views, with high-end and modern amenity options and an outdoor pool and deck, with outdoor kitchens, gathering spaces, a structured parking area, as well as a dog park and pet spa.
The development will also include a fitness center, a spin studio, sauna and jacuzzi, an outdoor pickleball court.
This 420-unit project is only the 1st phase of market rate residential development on Steelpointe. As part of BLD’s commitment to affordable housing in Bridgeport, BLD agreed to build or help finance new affordable units representing 10 percent of their total market-rate units. Through its Affordable Housing Partnership with BNT, the first partnership of its kind by any developers in Bridgeport, BNT has been able to construct 50 affordable units funded by BLD in the West Side and the East End and is currently working on a project on the East Side. All this, prior to a single market-rate unit being built on Steelpointe. The last project, completed in 2021 was the creation of West Liberty Commons, with 18 new construction affordable townhouse units, for working-class residents.
As for the “Work” in the LIVE, WORK, AND PLAY in the Steelpointe model, businesses were added which would add to the repositioning of Bridgeport Harbor as a destination that also supported the nearby arena, amphitheater, and neighborhoods. When construction started in 2014, jobs were being created as the bulkheads needed to support the buildings at the site were getting built enabling the creation of retail sites which also employed of local workers.
National retailers who had not had a prior presence in Bridgeport, moved here. Included were Bass Pro Shops, Starbucks, T-Mobile, and Chipotle. The project was also designed to create other marine industry opportunities. Bridgeport is now home to the Bridgeport Harbor Marina (BHM), one of only 3 deep water ports in Connecticut. With its annual Father’s Day Yacht & Charter Show showcasing how the old industrial image of decaying wood pilings, scrapyards, coal piles and steel mills have been replaced by new docks, private recreational vessels, ferries, and charter boats. Adding to the local employment base is BOCA. Owned and operated by a local Fairfield family, this acclaimed waterfront restaurant has become a popular gathering place overlooking the harbor and its waterside activity.
On the East Side of the harbor, BLD is creating Steelpointe East. The largest sail maker in the world North Sails, is there, so is Hornblower one of the Northeast’s largest ferry & tour boat operators. With Bridgeport Boatworks’ full service marine servicing company tending to both the recreational and commercial markets, their growth is dependent upon having an available workforce, specifically from the Bridgeport area whenever possible. When they couldn’t find the types of specialized workers they needed, they created scholarship programs to pay for training local workers and established internship programs reminiscent of Bridgeport’s manufacturing and industrial past, employers who are growing their businesses by working with the community to recruit from the nearby neighborhoods.
BLD’s commitment to a healthy City extends beyond the housing and businesses on the Waterfront. A few blocks over in the East End, BLD has been working to support the community by listening to what the neighborhood needs and finding creative solutions to help them accomplish their goals. With the help of other for and not for profit institutions, as well as local and state government, BLD is helping Ashlar Development create a grocery store in a neighborhood that has not had one in over 30 years. BLD is participating in the planning to rebuild an overlooked urban infrastructure while repositioning roadways to comply with the Safe Streets concept, calming the traffic, and making it more bike and pedestrian friendly. Continuing to address the needs of the community, BLD is currently finalizing the plans for a gas station, car wash and convenience store on Seaview Ave.
As for the “PLAY” aspect of the marina, waterfront recapture has been a priority making the harbor accessible to the community for the first time. A harbor walk has opened Bridgeport Harbor to the public and the new Bridgeport Harbor Marina has attracted boaters and visitors alike. Visitors come to eat on the water, shop and, bowl at Bass Pro, go downtown to catch a ferry to Long Island, or attend a boat show at the marina. As the Bridgeport waterfront continues to develop, it needs new residents and visitors who will patronize local attractions. Downtown Bridgeport, once the home to the likes of the Palace and Majestic Theaters where it was known in the theatre industry that you had to ‘go through Bridgeport’ to get to Broadway. Downtown is again alive with activities at the Amphitheater, the Arena, Stress Factory, Bijou and the Cabaret. BLD and the Steelpointe Harbor project is only one piece of a reemerging new Bridgeport.
City Council President Aidee Nieves said, “Steelpointe is just an anchor. We need to make sure development continues up the East Main Street corridor and into the rest of the neighborhoods.” Nieves told a reporter recently, that the goal is for residents and visitors at Steelpointe to also have reasons to travel further into the East Side and East End — and vice versa — making it all one “vibrant neighborhood” and “making sure there are no ‘invisible barriers’ created.”
What was once only dreams and pretty pictures is now becoming a sustainable reality. Bob Christoph Sr. and Jr., the people behind BLD, are seeing their years of hard work pay off much to the delight of people who come to LIVE, WORK, AND PLAY at Steelpointe Harbor in Bridgeport.