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Run-Down Properties in Connecticut to Be Converted to Hundreds of New Homes, Businesses

Wed June 19, 2024 - Northeast Edition
Connecticut Public Radio & Connecticut DECD

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Almost two dozen run-down properties in Connecticut will soon be transformed into hundreds of apartments and business spaces as the state works to fix up everything from old paper and textile mills to former greyhound racetracks.

In the process, new job opportunities also will spring up across Connecticut.

Nearly $26.3 million in state investment and $112.7 million in private investments will be used to remediate 22 blighted properties statewide, Gov. Ned Lamont announced June 14.

The properties are found in 17 Connecticut towns and cities, he said.

"Nobody wants to have old, polluted and blighted properties in their neighborhood that sit vacant for decades, especially when that land could be used to grow new businesses and create housing for people who need it," Lamont added. "This state program enables us to partner with municipalities and developers to bring these lifeless properties back from the dead."

The derelict properties were chosen as part of the Brownfield Remediation and Development Program run by the state's Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD). Brownfield remediation involves cleaning up or demolishing abandoned properties and repurposing the sites, which may involve decontaminating former factory land or rehabilitating existing housing.

The state looks for ways to bring property value and use back to the areas, DECD Deputy Commissioner Matthew Pugliese told Connecticut Public Radio.

"There are different awards that [aimed] towards housing as an end use," he explained. "Some are towards mixed use. One is to create a behavioral health clinic with a significant expansion, and another one is for a public park."

Four of the projects will be redeveloped as housing, creating 373 apartments. Of that group of homes, located in Berlin, New Haven, Norwalk and Vernon, 148 units will be considered affordable, according to a statement by Lamont.

Underserved communities are prioritized when considering properties for remediation, Pugliese said.

"We want to be able to preserve green space in development, and we want to be able to redevelop these underused, contaminated and blighted parcels and put them back into productive use for the state," he added.

Improved Properties, New Opportunities Being Created

Approximately 1,400 jobs will be generated as part of the remediation, state officials estimate, including temporary construction-related positions and employment opportunities at businesses opening in the new properties, according to Connecticut Public Radio.

The communities awarded the grants and loans announced under this funding round include:

  • Berlin will receive $360,000 to complete the ongoing remediation of contaminated soil on a 1.54-acre parcel located at 55 Steele Blvd. This will enable the construction of approximately 50 mixed-income residential units next to the Berlin Train Station.
  • In Bridgeport, $4 million will go toward executing a Remedial Action Plan and for demolition and remediation activities of the former 16.13-acre greyhound racetrack site located at 255 Kossuth St. The site is proposed to be developed into a sports stadium that will house a professional MLS NEXT Pro soccer team and will be part of a multi-phase redevelopment project that will also include a 260-room hotel, mixed-use development, and a community park and green space.
  • Another $4 million has been awarded to Bridgeport to complete remediation of a 2.97-acre site, located at 141 and 173 Stratford Ave. This will enable the creation of a public, open-space, and waterfront access area, including a boardwalk, public community soccer field, and a landscaped and hardscaped entryway plaza leading to the proposed CT United Soccer Stadium nearby.
  • A $90,000 planning grant for the development of a marketing study, site specific environmental assessment, brownfield mapping, and streetscape and parking design services for the town of Cheshire's West Main Street Downtown District.
  • With its $1.1 million grant, Colchester will complete remediation of approximately 3,200 cu. yds. of impacted soil at the former Norton Paper Mill site, located at 139 Westchester Rd. The property will be turned into a public passive recreation park.
  • In East Hartford, $95,000 will be used to further assess a site located at 164 School St., currently owned by United Steel. The assessment will allow the company to expand its operations, creating more tax revenue for the town, and start a second shift to employ more people in the community.
  • East Hartford will also benefit from a $50,000 grant for environmental site assessments of the underused building located at 1016 Main St. to determine a remediation and development strategy for the property as a whole.
  • A planning grant worth $200,000 was awarded to East Hartford to examine the Burnside and Church Street Village Area with a goal of addressing potentially contaminated structures and creating a comprehensive plan.
  • New Haven is to receive $516,400 to investigate and remediate the 0.82-acre site located at 80 Hamilton St. that was formerly used for residential, industrial, and commercial purposes. The remediation will enable the construction of a city history museum.
  • New Haven will also utilize $975,700 to remediate and abate the city-owned properties on the 1.03-acre lot located at 69 Grand Ave., home to the historic "Strong School" in the city's Fair Haven neighborhood. The project may include the potential demolition of structures that are not historic. The property's redevelopment will create approximately 58 affordable housing units and a large community space.
  • A $200,000 grant to New London will prepare Phase I Environmental Site Assessments of six parcels on Bank Street and Meridian Street to determine a strategy to allow for future remediation of these properties. Completing the assessment work will enable New London to utilize an existing $1 million federal EPA grant for the remediation activities.
  • Norwalk's nearly $3.3 million grant will pay for the demolition and abatement of the Meadow Gardens public housing complex located on a 3.8-acres at 45 Meadow St. and 5 Monterey Place. This will allow for the construction of approximately 55 low-income residential units.
  • In Norwich, $4 million will be used to complete a remedial action plan and an asbestos work plan, abatement, and demolition of buildings A & B, the skywalk, and 5th Street Bridge at the former Capehart Textile Mill, located on 6.05 acres in the Greeneville National Historic District. The remediation of the project site will enable the creation of a new riverfront park.
  • Plainville's $1.4 million grant will finish the remediation of impacted soil and groundwater on a 14.76-acre site along West Main Street. The work will enable the creation of approximately 175 new apartments with ground floor retail and amenities, a 13,000 sq. ft. medical-office building, and 7 acres of deeded open space.
  • A new master plan for downtown Portland will be funded by a $200,000 planning grant. The plan encompasses the Riverfront Overlay Zone and Town Village District, including the brownfield parcels at 222, 230, and 248 Brownstone Ave.
  • A $200,000 grant was also awarded to the town of Redding for the comprehensive planning of the Georgetown neighborhood with a goal to revitalize and redevelop the former Gilbert and Bennet Wire Mill brownfield site.
  • The community of Vernon is due to receive $2 million to abate and remediate identified environmental impacts at Daniel's Mill, a one-acre property located at 98 East Main St. The state DECD had previously awarded $2 million for the site's cleanup, but further investigations and testing have identified the need for additional funding. The redevelopment of the historic mill will create approximately 35 residential units and support the overall Rockville Mill Complex upfit that is expected to create 110,000 sq. ft. of residential units and 20,000 sq. ft. of commercial space.
  • West Haven's $1.2 million grant will pay for the removal of hazardous building materials on the 1.53-acre property located at 66 Tetlow St. The former elementary school is set to be the future site of the Shoreline Wellness Center and Behavioral Health Clinic, designed to provide mental healthcare services.
  • In Windsor, the first of two grants, worth $2 million, will remediate and abate the structures at the former Stanadyne manufacturing facility, located at 90 Deerfield Rd. Work at the 32.95-acre site will enable the adaptive reuse of the property to a business park designed to provide new manufacturing, R&D, warehousing/distribution, and offices to meet local market demand. A second $200,000 grant is to be used for further assessment of the Stanadyne property at 92 Deerfield Rd.
  • Windsor Locks is to get $73,450 for site assessment work at the vacant, suburban-style plaza located at 255 Main St.
  • A $132,000 planning grant to Woodbridge will pay for the assessment of a 155-acre former country club property and help advance a comprehensive redevelopment vision for housing or mixed-use development.

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