Utopia Deal Hinges on Anticipated Documents
Thursday, July 21st 2005
PRESTON-- Two theme park consultants who reviewed Utopia Studios' general plans for its proposed $1.6 billion entertainment complex said the material makes it unclear whether the project is viable.
Robert Ward, a former Universal Studios executive, and Frank Stanek, a former Disney World and Universal Studios executive, said Utopia needs to provide more information before Preston can determine whether to support the project.
The town's Norwich Hospital Advisory Committee reviewed the recommendation at its meeting Wednesday, just two days before exclusive negotiations on a development agreement between the town and Utopia are scheduled to expire.
The status of the negotiations remained unclear late Wednesday night as the committee remained behind closed doors.
Frank Stanek, who now operates his own business, Stanek Global Advisors in California, said in his experience developers typically provide the information -- specifically market data -- that was missing from Utopia's submission.
"I know what I would have provided for any third party to prove to them what I wanted to do was viable," he said. "The proposal will have a major impact and I think the town has to have the information we're talking about."
Joseph Gentile, Utopia's chief financial officer, could not be reached for comment late Wednesday night.
In a written agreement between Utopia and Preston and approved by voters at a referendum in March, Utopia promised to provide "reasonable" details on its project at the former Norwich Hospital property.
Wardand Stanek met with Utopia officials and advisory committee members for two days in New York last week. Stanek toured the hospital property and neighboring Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun Saturday.
In their letter to the committee, Ward and Stanek said the proposed development of mixed entertainment, lodging and retail were "appropriate considerations" for the 419-acre site, especially with the world's two largest casinos attracting thousands of visitors to the region.
"The Norwich Hospital site is a strong asset for the town of Preston," the two men wrote in an e-mail to First Selectman Robert Congdon, a committee member, and the town's attorney, Bruce Chudwick. "Thoughtful planning, careful analysis and a compelling destination resort product should both complement the existing area destinations and add its own impact toward creating a critical mass of compelling entertainment and visitation to the area."
A theme park analysis is especially crucial because the parks are the largest economic driver of the project, the consultants said.
The study is needed to ensure that revenues meet the developer's obligations and support the services required to mitigate the project's impacts on fire, security, police and emergency medical services.
This article was written by Adam Bowles and published by Norwich Bulletin on Thursday, July 21st 2005 and NOT owned by nor affiliated with opacity.us, but are recorded here solely for educational use. The photographs featured in the article are randomly selected from the Norwich State Hospital galleries on opacity.us unless noted otherwise; they may not directly relate to the article subject matter except for the site location - any other relation is purely coincidental.