The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT)
Wayfair, Lowe’s warehouses coming to East Hartford’s Rentschler Field
EAST HARTFORD — Distribution warehouses for Lowe’s home improvement and Wayfair home furnishings stores, a total of 2.5 million square feet, will be built on the wide expanse of historic Rentschler Field, officials announced Monday at the ceremonial groundbreaking.
Trucks and heavy equipment rumbled on the 300-acre site as lawmaker gathered in a tent with managers of the devolpment company, Massachusetts-based National Development.
Plans are to complete the first phase — a 1.3-millionsquare-foot Lowe’s building and a 1.2-million-square-foot Wayfair warehouse — in 1 ½ years, National Development managers Ed Marsteiner and Andrew Gallinaro said. The warehouses will be logistic hubs for the stores in New England, they said. Leases will be for 10 to 12 years, the managers said.
The second phase of the planned development is two buildings of 100,000 square feet each to house high-tech and specialty manufacturing tenants. Those plans are in the early stages and no tenants have been announced.
The dual warehouses are expected to create 400 construction jobs and up to 1,000 permanent positions, the developers said. Annual tax revenue for the entire logistics and technology center will be about $4 million, officials said.
East Hartford Mayor Mike Walsh called the project “a game-changer for East Hartford in terms of jobs, tax revenue and economic development potential.” U.S. Rep. John Larson, D-1st District, who grew up in East Hartford, said the development “will continue to cement our region as a hub for innovation and economic development.”
Several speakers Monday noted the historic ground that will host the logistics and technology center.
Dedicated in 1931 and named for aviation pioneer Frederick Rentschler, the site was a military and private airport and a testing site for Pratt & Whitney, welcoming dignitaries who included Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart and presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Lyndon Baines Johnson.
Construction crews were bringing in extra material to raise the pancake-flat site near the Connecticut River due to the high groundwater table, Marsteiner said.
Trucks have unloaded about half of the 500,000 cubic yards of material needed to prepare for building construction, enough to fill nearby Pratt & Whitney Stadium to the brim 1 ¼ times, he said.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said the site brought to mind the long lines of people receiving donated food there during the coronavirus pandemic.
The development, Blumenthal said, marks a turning point for the state, a sign of full-scale recovery from COVID-19 and movement toward economic prosperity.
Walsh said the logistics and technology center is part of the ongoing revitalization of Silver Lane, which includes a planned new apartment building and a revival of the derelict Silver Lane Plaza.
State Rep. Jason Rojas noted that National Development has agreed to a one-time payment of $4 million to the town.
The money is to pay for planning, design and construction of part of the East Coast Greenway that runs through East Hartford and for the design and construction of one or more athletic or recreational facilities in town.