Officials pose for a photo to celebrate the start of construction on The August, a 470-unit waterfront apartment complex planned next to downtown Bridgeport. Photo courtesy of the city of Bridgeport

A big luxury apartment complex in Bridgeport’s Steelpointe Harbor redevelopment officially broke ground amid snow piles Tuesday, with elected officials praising the project as “transformative.”

The August, as the development will be known, will bring 420 apartments and a public waterfront promenade to the Steelpointe site, which has been slowly built out by developer RCI Group over the last 10 years. The site’s most high-profile tenant right now is a Bass Pro Shops store, plus a stand-alone Starbucks and a waterfront oyster bar. A Dunkin’ Donuts location and a gas station are also in the works, according to The Connecticut Post. At least one more large development pad will remain once The August is built.

The apartments are being jointly developed by local firm RCI and Flaherty & Collins Properties. The building will be highly amenitized with a fitness center, co-working lounge with coffee service, saltwater pool & deck, private outdoor pet park and pet spa, EV charging stations, outdoor kitchens, and a pickleball court. The site is also less than a 15-minute walk to Bridgeport’s Metro-North and Amtrak train station.

“I would like to compliment RCI Group on partnering with Flaherty & Collins Properties, one of the Midwest’s largest and most experienced multifamily developers, for this next exciting development phase of Steelpointe,” city Mayor Joe Ganim said in a statement released by his office. “I thank the Christophs for their continued investment in Bridgeport and welcome and thank Flaherty and Collins for their new commitment to Bridgeport.”

RCI is run by father-son team of Robert Christoph Sr. and Robert Christoph Jr.

Financing was provided by a $111 million construction loan from Indiana-based Old National Bank, with fellow out-of-state lenders Busey Bank, First Merchants Bank and Southern Bank joining with local lenders Webster Bank, Newtown Savings Bank and Essex Bank as participating lenders, Ganim’s office said. Additional project financing is being provided by the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority, the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, Local Initiatives Support Corporation and Connecticut Innovations. The project also received state assistance to clean up site contamination.

In a statement released by Ganim’s office, Gov. Ned Lamont said he believed the project would be a “transformative moment” for the long-struggling post-industrial city on Long Island Sound whose downtown has been the focus of fitful revitalization efforts by successive multifamily developers over the last 20 years.

“Right now, the sun is shining on Bridgeport, a lot of people want to be here. A lot of people want to be in the State of Connecticut. The development here at Steelpointe Harbor is really coming together in a way that makes sense for this city and this state,” he said. “It’s a short walk here to transportation, and a lot of money is going into transportation right now. Thanks to the bipartisan transportation bill, Bridgeport will be as close to New York City as Stamford is today. There’s going to be housing here at Steelpointe that young people can afford to start their careers at; housing for our teachers, firefighters, and cops and that means a lot in terms of this community. This is a transformative moment. It’s taken a long time to come, but Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

Just north of the Steelpointe development site, a consortium of investors is looking for state funding to help them build a home for their new professional soccer team, which will play in a developmental league that feeds into Major League Soccer, along with a hotel and housing on the site of the city’s derelict greyhound track and professional jai alai court.