BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (WTNH)-- A big boost for Bridgeport Friday as the state gives the okay to help build a mega sporting goods store at 'Steel Point.'
The waterfront development project has faced decades of delays but the developer says this is the catalyst that will finally make it happen.
Over the past twenty years, the state and the city of Bridgeport have spent millions clearing the 50 acre harbor side site known as 'Steel Point.'
"Finally, we're in a position to move toward construction of what will be a regional attraction," said Governor Dannel Malloy, (D) Connecticut.
The Governor and the State Bonding Commission Friday, giving the okay for a total of $31 million to help build a 150 thousand square foot 'Bass Pro' super sporting goods store at the site.' The developer says this will be the catalyst the location needs.
"There are a whole series of other retailers and other interested parties that want to come to the site," said Robert Christoph, Bridgeport Landing Development.
"The founder of the store; Johnny Morris, he thinks there's going to be between four and five million people coming to the store. Imagine what that would do to rejuvenate the city of Bridgeport," said Mayor Bill Finch.
Similar 'Tax Incremental Financing' was used successfully to lure the Cabellas' super store to East Hartford six years ago.
'Tax Incremental Financing' means the sales taxes generated by the store pays for the borrowing the state did to get them here.
But the minority leader in the Senate, whose running to replace Malloy as Governor, notes that the administration has given big incentives for financial services companies for Stamford, and biotech in New Haven, but not much for Bridgeport.
"If you're going to rebuild Bridgeport you need to do it more than with a retail shop. That's important but you need jobs in the city and there's been no effort to move whether it's front office or back office jobs into the city of Bridgeport," said Sen. John McKinney.
Others have noted the irony of the Governor wanting $21 million for school security and $31 million for a store that sells guns and ammunition.
"I don't see any conflict with that and it's very much in keeping with our position with respect to guns," said Malloy.
The sales taxes on guns and other hunting, fishing, camping and boating equipment are expected to pay back the entire amount of state funding over a period of 20 years.
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