E. Hartford outlet developer says project 'not dead yet'


Rendering | Contributed
Rendering | Contributed
A rendering of the proposed outlet shoppes at Rentschler Field in East Hartford.
The developer of the $105 million Outlets Shoppes at Rentschler Field says the project is suspended but "not dead yet" and that he is working to raise capital and reschedule commitments with retailers before a March ground lease expires.

Horizon Group Properties CEO Gary Skoien told the Hartford Business Journal this week that he plans to reach out to the high-end fashion and shoe retailers and chain restaurants, among other future tenants, about extending the project timeline while he raises the funding needed after losing $10 million in financing from lender PCCP of Los Angeles, Calif.

United Technologies Corp. owns the land where the shoppes would be developed.

Skoien said PCCP, a commercial real estate debt and equity capital investment firm, told him it needed to reduce its $69 million loan by $10 million, news that caused the developer last week to halt ground-breaking that began in October.

"We've stopped construction and we're reassessing whether or not we can go forward," Skoien acknowledged Monday. "The ground lease with UTC is good until March, so we have time to find out if we can put together the money, but more importantly if we can get retailers to extend their possession dates."

East Hartford Mayor Marcia Leclerc, who has expressed skepticism about the project after receiving news of the financing troubles, could not be reached Tuesday. On Monday, Leclerc pointed out that the town had agreed to provide more than $16 million in tax abatements, while the state was providing $12 million in infrastructure funding.

In an email to the Hartford Business Journal, UTC said: "We regret that Horizon Group Properties appears to have suspended its outlet center project due to financing issues. We are disappointed for the town of East Hartford, which has been a strong partner and wonderful home to thousands of UTC and Pratt & Whitney employees for decades."