When West Hartford decided to pursue a full-service hotel on 4 acres of town land adjacent to , officials weren't sure how much interest they would see in a still-shaky economy.
About two-and-a-half months after putting out a request for proposal (RFP), town officials opened seven large packages in town hall on Wednesday afternoon in the next step of a detailed process to find the right hotel for the property.
The number of proposals was "almost better than we expected," Town Manager Ron Van Winkle said. "Seven is a great number."
"The story is that people are interested in investing in our town at a time when the economy is still not so great," Rob Rowlson, West Hartford's director of community services, said on Wednesday.
The bidders are: Hospitality 3 of New Haven; Roadel Companies of Wilton, NY; The Oak Park Group LLC of West Hartford; Allied Engineering Associates of Canaan, CT; Sullivan Hayes Companies Northeast of Farmington; Wos & Wos Development Corporation of Rye Brook, NY; and Robert B. Friedman Group of Woodbury, NY.
According to the RFP, the town is seeking a full service hotel that offers appropriate amenities, with approximately 120 rooms — either an independent boutique or with a flag property. The site is at the intersection of Memorial and Raymond roads, opposite the .
Rowlson said on Wednesday that town officials would go through the stacks of proposals and see what's there before proceeding.
"They'll be detailed," he said. "We'll understand what the proposal constitutes."
When the RFP went out in late May, Van Winkle said the town would look carefully at the qualifications of bidders and the financing they have available.
Chris Johnson, director of financial services, said the process could take quite a while depending on what has been submitted. If town officials aren't happy with any of the proposals, they will reassess the situation.
"Typically, we'll go through the process and see where we end up," he said. "If we're not comfortable, we'll step back and see where we want to be."
According to the RFP, "the Town of West Hartford is interested in working with a development team which has substantial experience in the planning, construction and operation of a full service hotel. The property will be sold or leased “as-is.” The preferred proposal will reflect purchase or long-term lease options which best meet the needs of hotel developers and the overall financial, planning, zoning, commercial and social interests of the community."