EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — State and local officials celebrated a massive new project in East Hartford with a ceremonial groundbreaking. The former runways next to Pratt & Whitney’s headquarters will soon be home to giant warehouses.

They were the runways of the original Rentschler Field, an actual airfield home to World War II fighter planes, but no plane has landed there in more than 20 years. What they’re building on that land now is easily the size of a couple of airplane hangers.

“Two point five million square feet of combined floor area between the first two buildings under construction is roughly equivalent to the Empire State Building,” said Ed Marsteiner, a managing partner of National Development.

They are calling it the East Hartford Logistics Center. One massive building will be leased by home improvement giant Lowe’s, the other by online furniture retailer Wayfair.

“It’s going to create hundreds of construction jobs and, even better, over a thousand permanent positions once it gets built,” said Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz (D-Conn.).

It will also bring in an estimated $4 million in new tax revenue. The runways here were last used two years ago as the state’s largest mass vaccination clinic. Officials pointed out how far we’ve come since then.

“It is a sign that we are in full-scale recovery from Covid,” said U.S. Sen Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn). “We are on the move toward economic expansion.”

In late 2021, Pratt & Whitney sold the 300 acres of former runway to Boston-based National Development. While some towns have fought logistic centers, officials say it works for East Hartford.

“Certainly, there are issues that arise from having a lot of trucks drive through communities, but this site, perhaps, provides the greatest opportunity for a project to take place with the least disruption to the people who continue to make East Hartford their home,” State Rep. Jason Rojas (D-East Hartford).

The warehouses are supposed to be done next summer. National development has more plans for this piece of land, too. The next step is a 200,000-square-foot building. They say that will be for either high-tech or specialty manufacturing.

By Kent Pierce

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