After a hiatus of more than a year, the state is once again hoping to find a developer to take the former Sunrise Resort in East Haddam – now the Sunrise State Park – off its hands.
The resort was founded in 1916 as Elm Camp when Henry Engle completed the Main Bungalow by installing electric lights, telephone and a water system.
In 1986, the Robert Johnson family took ownership and managed it until 2008.
One of the original structures on the property was destroyed by fire — the site has been the target of arson more than once since the CT DEEP purchased the 143-acre property in January 2009 for $3.2 million.
Earlier this week, the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) issued an invitation to prospective developers to submit proposals for redeveloping and managing the property.
In July 2010 when the then DEP issued a request for proposals, only two developers showed any interest, including one whose specialty was water parks (Winthrop S. Knox, then vice president of International Aquatic Design Inc.) and another who wanted to demolish most of the buildings on the property (Chester, CT architect William Cowan).
Cowan’s vision for the property was a kind of teaching facility, where visitors would learn about sustainability, with a village (with restaurants, shops and dormitories) and a farm where organic fruits and vegetables would be grown. The idea was to attract campers, tourists and educational groups.
Apparently, the DEP didn’t find either of these proposals to be viable.
In the current request for propoasals, DEEP states that the agency will work with the selected developer to create a “destination location” that will offer public access, recreation and economic development opportunities that would benefit the local community and the state as a whole.
Deputy Commissioner Susan Frechette said the DEEP is looking for “an innovative public/private partnership to return Sunrise State Park to a recreation destination that so many Connecticut residents and visitors remember.”
Information on the DEEP web site also notes that, “The selected developer will bear all responsibility for financing, permitting, design, demolition, construction, reconstruction, management and operation of the Sunrise Resort property in return for a long term ground lease with the DEEP, who will maintain ownership over the property.”
The DEEP also notes that it won’t provide financial support for the development: “No state funds are expected to be available for the support of this project. Therefore, Sunrise State Park must be economically self-sustaining.”
The DEEP offered these general guidelines for elements to include in any proposal from a potential developer:
- Preserve the natural, cultural and historic resources of the property
- Ensure public access to the park
- Demonstrate an economic benefit to the state and to the region
- Show sensitivity to development that is appropriate to the site
- Promote best practices for sustainable development, including but not limited to water and energy conservation, beneficial reuse of materials, alternative energies and green technologies. LEED certification for the completed project is highly desirable.
The DEEP will also consider proposals that include new construction such as:
- recreation facilities
- education facilities
- short- or extended-stay accommodations such as camping, RVs and cabins
- hospitality uses, including hotel and banquet/conference facilities
- food service and small-scale retail facilities
- office and administration space that supports the redevelopment
However, DEEP will not permit these uses and facilities:
- Parking, except for vehicles used in connection with the maintenance and operation of Sunrise State Park or facilities there and transportation of visitors to locations throughout the park
- electric power-generating stations other than those that furnish power only to Sunrise State Park
- permanent, long-term residential uses
- industrial or manufacturing uses
- telecommunication towers
- adult entertainment establishments
The press release states that the DEEP will offer at least one tour of the property for prospective bidders in late January – the date and time to be announced.
The 146-acre Sunrise State Park is located in the west/northwest corner of East Haddam in the Moodus section of town. It shares common boundary lines with the 300-acre Machimoodus State Park to the southeast and Salmon River to the west. The property also includes more than 4,700 feet of frontage on the Salmon River. The main entrance to the property is from CT Route 151 which abuts the land on the northeast.
For more information about this project, including the complete Request for Proposal document, visit the DEEP website at www.ct.gov/DEEP/Sunrise. Email also can be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org
Proposals must be submitted no later than 4 p.m. on Friday, March 16, 2012, addressed to: Dir. of State Parks-Public Outreach Thomas J. Tyler, CT DEEP – State Parks & Public Outreach Division; 79 Elm St – Floor 6, Hartford, CT 06106
Posted Dec. 22, 2011
Related link: “Fire destroys building at old Sunrise Resort; arson suspected,” published May 7, 2010 in East Haddam Today
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