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2018: A Great Year For The Former Mall Site

Construction of a new Bristol Hospital building on the corner of Main Street and Riverside Ave. | Mike Uchalid

If you haven’t been to downtown Bristol lately you should. It is buzzing with construction. The look, the feel, the noise of it all should make Bristol residents proud.

After over a decade of waiting for Bristol to develop the former mall site, Bristol Hospital purchased a large portion of the site at the corner of Main Street and Riverside Avenue.

The hospital is constructing at lightning speed a 60,000 square foot three-story building that will house an Ambulatory Care Medical building.

The building is expected to employ dozens of professionals while servicing thousands of patients heading downtown.

CEO Kurt Barwis told the Bristol Press recently “I drive past this property every morning on the way to work. A couple of weeks ago, when the steel started going up, I looked over and I think that was probably the first time – you know, you could see drawings all day long – but the first time I realized what impact this building is going to have in the city, and it’s going to long outlast me and my life.”

Sources close to Renaissance Downtowns said Bristol Hosptial reached out to construct the building years ago but an agreement could not be reached due to a high and unrealistic price tag.

In 2018, RXR Realty filed a lawsuit against Renaissance Downtowns, calling into question the future of major revitalization projects in the Village of Hempstead and Huntington Station in New York.

“No meaningful development has occurred on the proposed projects and, in light of the irreconcilable differences between RXR and Renaissance, the projects will not be going forward and will not be completed,” RXR said in the suit, filed Wednesday in Nassau County Supreme Court. “… RXR does not trust Renaissance, and can no longer do business with Renaissance.” Sound similar?

Once Renaissance Downtowns skipped town, Bristol Hosptial reached out to the city pitching their plan.

After quick negotiations and zoning approvals, a final purchase & sales agreement was approved and signed by both parties, it paved the way for a new road.

Unlike Renaissance Downtowns, Developer Rendina Healthcare Real Estate is rapidly developing a high-quality project transforming downtown Bristol on the former mall site.

Hope Street downtown Bristol | Mike Uchalid

Hope Street is about 1,000 feet long and has many streetscape components including trees, brick pavers, a center median made of “stamped asphalt,” decorative lights, landscaping, granite curbing, and a bus stop site.

Hope Street will also match the current look of upper North Main and Main Streets. The City will also update the traffic signal at North Main Street and Laurel streets.

Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu said after receiving hundreds of suggestions from Bristol residents, the Bristol Development Authority and the Mayor’s Office named Bristol’s newest downtown Street which runs through the former mall site “Hope Street”.

“We began the naming process in the middle of summer when we asked the public to suggest names and we received a great response as hundreds of names were submitted and considered,” said Justin Malley, Executive Director of the Bristol Development Authority.  “In September, we narrowed the list down to 10 names and sent out the ballot, with Hope Street being the name that received the most votes.”

Main Street looking North | Mike Uchalid

Last week The Press reported, “The City Council, at a special meeting on Wednesday, approved a letter of intent from developers looking to put a mixed-use building on “Parcel 10” of Centre Square. Parcel 10 is on the Main Street side of the former mall site, between the new Bristol Hospital Medical Care Center and a railroad trestle.”

Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu told The Roundup “We are looking forward to having Oliver Wilson and Wesley Cyr continue their investment in Bristol with their intent to purchase Parcel 10 at the former mall site, a half-acre lot that is on Main St, directly to the north of the hospital building.

They are currently building two multi-unit buildings on the corner of South and Willis. We like their work, and we think they are a great partner to do the second development.”

The Press also reported “Zoppo-Sassu said the city is also reviewing plans to add parallel parking spaces along Riverside Avenue between Main and North Main streets in the spring. This, she said, will tie them into the existing downtown streetscape design and “improve walkability.”

“Plans are also in place to add trees to the sidewalk areas outside the hospital corner.”

It seems the massive downtown Bristol destination point approach didn’t work. The new simpler approach appears to be working.

As Petula Clark says going downtown, The lights are much brighter there, you can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares So go downtown, things’ll be great when you’re downtown, no finer place for sure downtown everything’s waiting for you.

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