2021 was a banner year for Steelpointe as activities continued on the peninsula and Bridgeport Landing Development invested in creating jobs on the east side of Bridgeport Harbor and affordable housing on the west side of the city. In spite of the ongoing pandemic, our second annual boatshow and our retail tenants flourished, showing the resilience of Steelpointe Harbor, while we were busy at our nearby Seaview Avenue site upgrading the once vacant Carpenter Steel facilities that are now a beehive of activity with new marine related industrial tenants. In our continuing effort to keep the momentum building Bridgeport Landing Development received the approval of the City Zoning Office for the development of 420 +/- residential units to be built on the former United Illuminating Company site on Steelpointe with construction scheduled to begin in the Spring.
In April, across the Harbor on Seaview Avenue, Bridgeport Boatworks announced that it has entered into a long-term lease agreement with Hornblower Group, a global leader in world-class experiences and transportation and the operator of NYC Ferry, Statue of Liberty Cruises, and ferry and vessel operations across North America and the UK. Hornblower Group is using the facility for vessel maintenance, upgrades, and a retrofit facility at Bridgeport Boatworks.
This means that Bridgeport Boatworks would need to expand their building and hire local workers to take on the new workload. The announcement led to meetings with many local community leaders, so both Boatworks & Hornblower could set up the infrastructure to recruit and train a local workforce.
On Fathers’ Day Weekend, thousands of visitors came to the Bridgeport waterfront for the Annual Steelpointe Yacht & Charter Show. Showpiece Shows, BLD’s in-house event producer, showcased Bridgeport Harbor again exhibiting best in class yachts, boating accessories, lifestyle brands, new and classic cars and our community not for profit partners. The weekend also focused on boating education and exposure to the many possibilities in yachting and the beauty of the Long Island Sound.
It was hard to miss Moran Yacht’s ‘Lady Kathryn V’ – a 61-meter yacht towering over 4 stories tall. The yacht was nearly the size of the Port Jefferson Ferry passing by throughout the weekend. The watercraft were just one part of Steelpointe Yacht & Charter Show’s offerings. Once guests left the Marina docks and strolled along the adjoining harborwalk, they were surrounded by both new and old, classic, sophisticated, and stylish cars, that they could view, arrange to drive, or purchase. At our on-site heliport, several helicopters were also on display. Ready for a quick a business trip or getaway for a weekend vacation? We can help you get there by air. Or just stop by and talk to the folks from our community organizations like Bridgeport Caribe Youth Leaders, Building Neighborhoods Together, East End NRZ Market & Café, Optimus Healthcare, Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo, and the NAACP.
On the other side of Steelpointe, Building Neighborhoods Together (BNT) completed their newest 45-unit affordable housing complex on West Ave, West Liberty Commons, which Bridgeport Landing Development was happy to help fund and cut the ribbon at the grand opening in June. BLD has contributed over $1m towards affordable housing in Bridgeport and is also working with BNT on another affordable housing complex on East Main Street, adding another 44 units to Bridgeport.
In July, North Sails, the world’s leader in sail making, relocated their global headquarters to Seaview Avenue, next door to Boatworks, further cementing that little slice of Bridgeport as the premiere location for New England and worldwide boating community, while providing additional tax base and jobs in the City’s East End.
In September, Bridgeport Harbor Marina officially opened their fuel dock, offering both marine gas and diesel with both regular and high-speed pumps.
Another upgrade for the marine industry in Connecticut came in November when a 700 metric ton travel lift, the largest on the east coast, was assembled and tested by Bridgeport Boatworks.
This lift has made it possible to take 150 of Hornblower’s Northeast fleet of 157 ferries out of the water for maintenance and the required Coast Guard inspections, while also allowing a larger client base to utilize Boatworks’ suite of services.
Whether by land, sea, or air, progress was felt as a few miles away at Sikorsky Memorial Airport. Three Wing Aviation Group (TWAG) founded at Sikorsky in 1974 is BLD’s Aviation Division, and offers aircraft, maintenance, avionics, repairs, upgrades and storage. Pilot training for licensing is offered at their flight school, complete with a state-of-the-art advanced aircraft training simulator, training an average of 25 pilots per year. The Three Wing Flying Club allows members to use one of 5 different types of aircraft, starting with basic flight trainers up to high performance retractable aircraft. Azimuth Aviation Helicopter Charters is our in-house operator based at Three Wing.
Three Wing also operates the 2 CAA licensed helipads at Bridgeport Harbor Marina & Bridgeport Boatworks.
What’s a year with Steelpointe without the Optimus Health Care Thanksgiving Food Drive? 2021 marks 14 years of BLD sponsoring the handing out of meals to local families with the help of the Optimus staff. Bridgeport Caribe Youth Leaders, Hall Neighborhood House, and East End Food Bank patrons were all able to enjoy Thanksgiving with their families over a warm meal provided by BLD.
BLD continues to work within the East End community, addressing the needs of an underserved urban neighborhood. Another partner of BLD is Ashlar Construction, who has completed the foundation and will soon start erecting the steel skeleton for Honey Locust Square. This project will add a much-needed grocery store, library, and new store fronts to the food baren area of Bridgeport. Located a few blocks away this project is posed to help revitalize the East End neighborhood, the area Anthony Stewart, owner of Ashlar Construction, grew up in, and has now returned to ‘give back’ to his community. BLD is providing $1.4 million of funding towards the construction costs of this project.
Bridgeport Boatworks was recognized by Bridgeport Regional Business Council (BRBC) with the Paul S. Timpanelli Leadership in Economic Development Award, for their growth and bringing new business to Bridgeport at the BRBC 2021 Leadership Awards Dinner in December.
As part of the evening, BLD had the honor of awarding East End NRZ Market & Café with the BRBC Resiliency Award During the pandemic the Market & Café cared, adapted, and provided for the East End residents, offering fresh produce, dietary management, job training, gardening for beginner’s classes, violence prevention & mentoring, hydroponic farming, becoming a senior center, and more, 7 days a week. Not all of this was part of the original goal, but the team at the market did what they do best, making things happen at a time when others were not able to help.
BLD & Steelpointe Harbor rounded out 2021 with another annual community event, the Optimus Health Care Christmas Toy Drive, marking the 10th year of this partnership. This year the drive benefited over 200 Bridgeport families, around 300-400 kids, with new toys and games to have under the tree for their Christmas celebrations.
Clearly 2021, was a year of progress and growth throughout the city. Steelpointe is playing a major role in doing what it does best on the Harbor while increasing its involvement throughout the community to help make positive changes throughout the Park City.