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Borough Board Agrees GDC Purchase is a Good Idea

Naugatuck officials believe the downtown property is key to the future revitalization of downtown.

 

NAUGATUCK -- The Board of Mayor and Burgesses agrees with economic development officials that the borough should purchase the General DataComm. property downtown because it is crucial to future downtown redevelopment.

The borough board voted unanimously to allow Naugatuck officials to enter into negotiation discussions for the purchase of the property at a price which has yet to be determined. A resolution approved by the borough board Thursday says Naugatuck can take the property through eminent domain, although Mayor Bob Mezzo said Naugatuck has no plans to do that. (*See the full resolution attached as a PDF.) 

Background from a previous Naugatuck Patch article:

The GDC property at 6 Rubber Ave., which consists of two land tracts known as Parcels A and B, is “key to the future revitalization of downtown Naugatuck and the redefinition of Naugatuck as a regional center,” according to a resolution passed last month by the Naugatuck Economic Development Corp. To this point, officials have released no plans for reuse of the property.

“By purchasing the GDC property, the borough drastically increases its control over our destiny in downtown Naugatuck,” Mayor Bob Mezzo wrote on his blog. "...While there is disappointment that Renaissance Place did not come to fruition, the borough’s acquisition of the GDC property is a game-changer for the future of Naugatuck’s urban core.”

The GDC property includes a more than 400,000-square-foot building on roughly 10 acres. The listed sale price is $12 million, according to Showcase.com, an industrial and commercial realty site; the property is appraised at $8 million, according to Naugatuck land records. However, the borough is not expected to spend anywhere near either of those amounts, though officials are being mum on the details because of ongoing negotiations. 

The GDC property was supposed to be the focal point for the original first phase of the Renaissance Place project, a $710 million downtown revitalization plan. That public and private partnership was supposed to be completed in four phases over several years and was anticipated to bring thousands of construction jobs, hundreds of on-site jobs and millions of dollars in annual net tax revenue. The GDC property was supposed to become home to shopping centers, a movie theater, upscale condominiums, office space and other amenities. 

On his blog, Mezzo states that Renaissance Place developer Alexius Conroy made various offers on the downtown property but was never able to strike a deal with GDC, a communications technology company that has operated at 6 Rubber Ave. since the departure of Uniroyal Rubber in the 1980s. Acquisition of that property was crucial to the success of the Renaissance Place project, and without a deal, the project floundered. Conroy tried to reshift his focus to developing other downtown parcels in the first phase, but those plans also fell through.

Finally, in September, after more than five years of planning, the borough and Conroy split ties, agreeing to release each other from their respective obligations as spelled out in a development agreement for Renaissance Place.

Even while Conroy was still involved, borough officials say they were approached by Atlas Partners, LLC, a third-party creditor for GDC. In the fall of 2011, Atlas Partners reached out to Naugatuck officials about a possible deal to buy the property, Mezzo said.

“While conversations initially focused upon the possibility of Conroy Development purchasing the GDC property, they ultimately shifted to the borough as the buyer when a deal could not be reached" (with Conroy), Mezzo’s blog states.

In that blog, Mezzo also discusses the complexities of reuse of the GDC property, including underground contamination from years of industrial use that likely needs to be cleaned before construction can begin. 

“It is unlikely the economics of redeveloping the site would work for any private developer, without financial assistance to remediate the property from the public sector,” Mezzo wrote. “In essence, the property will likely never redevelop to any productive use without the borough’s investment.”

Read Mezzo’s full blog post here.

Tax Man November 02, 2012 at 12:50 PM
I would say by the polling residents want to increase the downtown perhaps in the utilization of existing buildings and general quality. The purchase of brownfields by the borough is not the same as standard land acquisitions . Parcel B is specifically listed under the CTDEP as a brownfield. Perhaps parcel C in its partial cleanup would give an indication on costs for the Datacomm parcel B? Parcel A if developed may also fall into this category should the land be altered. The Charter requires a vote by the people for any acquisition over 1 million. How is this process going to be done or are they going to find a creative way around this? I believe the residence of Naugatuck should be asked in this as a Ye or nay. While our taxes never stop in the state or this town to increase our elected officials always find a way to spend more.
Dawnie Rotten November 02, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Let me just remind our public SERVANTS who are implementing the United Nations AGENDA 21 that, as stated in the US Constitution, you are committing TREASON; which is punishable by LIFE in PRISON or the DEATH PENALTY. Let me remind you what the Constitution IS! It IS the LAW OF THE LAND; there to remind public SERVANTS of their LIMITED POWER. It outlines what they can and cannot do! It is a very straight forward document. I highly recommend to our public SERVANTS, who took an OATH to the Constitution, that they go back and READ it!
Paul Singley November 02, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Thank you for the comments. Good observations.
Paul Singley November 02, 2012 at 03:55 PM
I think life in prison or the death penalty is a bit harsh. I'm also not seeing where this falls under treason. Care to explain?
citizen November 02, 2012 at 04:26 PM
Dawnie, I would also like to hear your interpretation on UN Agenda 21 as it seems by reading it to be voluntary and a good thing. Is this something you leaned about on one of those AM talk shows?
SuperDave November 02, 2012 at 05:40 PM
UN Agenda 21 has nothing to do with the Constitution. Although the US is in part a co-developer of this document as a member of the UN, neither the Senate nor anyone from the Executive Branch has ratified this. So its just hanging out there as a guideline not a law. I suppose the UN members agreed its a nice thing to do, but it is not really taken very seriously and is certainly not enforceable in any way.
Derek November 03, 2012 at 12:46 AM
Take off the tinfoil hat, stop reading everything that comes through your inbox, and enjoy your life.
Grumpy Guy November 03, 2012 at 02:18 AM
More importantly, go back to what Tax Man is saying about the possible purchase of the old GDC. I dont see how this can possibly benefit the town. Unless the mayor and borough board are aware of a way that they town is FULLY reimbursed for ALL cleanup costs, there is no reason the town should take on this property. If money-wise private investors wont touch it, why should we as taxpayers in this town become 'owners' of this polluted property?? In general, I like our mayor but I cant see how I can support this course of action. For some reason, I cannot make sense out of the 'logic' behind the idea of spending money we do not have to buy a brownfield. Doesnt seem to fall under the heading of "blue chip investment" to me!!
TJ November 03, 2012 at 03:47 AM
Ask the Tax Payers in the City of Derby how thier Downtown Revitalization is coming along. How much it has cost them for an open eyesore. Not counting the legal fees... Why can't we just revitalize what we have, If they were to put a Parking Garage on Parcel C and charge maybe $2.00 for parking, it would be a start to help interest grow in our Downtown area by offering ample parking. We have some great little stores and restaurants in downtown, but everytime I drive through there I have to drive around the block it gets frustrating. Why ruin the quiantness of our quiet downtown with traffic and congestion we don't need. My family and I moved to Naugy for comfortable ambiance, by bringing in outside traffic and congestion it will ruin that feeling and make downtown feel like Waterbury conjested and rushed. Don't get me wrong I like Waterbury if I want fasted paced traffic and an abundance of people. A movie theater, restaurant, and more apartments NOT what our town needs why would someone drive to our town when just a few mins away they have the same venues. I feel a public hearing on the matter would help our ELECTED politicians know what WE want them to do with OUR money....
Grumpy Guy November 03, 2012 at 12:39 PM
Agreed!!! Before the town signs ANYTHING...we, the taxpayers in this town, deserve a full public disclosure of what the purchase price is proposed to be and how the town will pay for it. PLUS how we will pay for the remediation- is there state and federal money available for that purpose. This game of telling us a portion of what we need to know has to stop. Letting us know that they are entering negotiations without giving any indication of the purchase price? In effect, the mayor and burgesses are saying "Trust us, we know what we're doing". I want transparency, NOT blind trust!!! I want to know where the board of burgesses gets their "expertise" in matters like this.
Gumby November 03, 2012 at 03:18 PM
With the recent weather events predicting that a once every hundred year event will become an annual thing I would NOT invest in anything that close to the river. Have we forgotten what that area looked like after the 1955 Flood? Factories were built near rivers to harness the water power and to dump the nasty waste products after production. Living near waterways is proving to be risky AND challenging these days.
Vox Populi November 03, 2012 at 03:24 PM
The town is taking the steps in order to get the Brownfield monies to clean it to today's standards. The alternative is that it eventually becomes an abandonded property as I am amazed that GDC is still in that building given their financials and the amount of taxes they have been paying on that building. http://gdc.com/corporate_news/cni_vpr.shtml If I recall, parcels A, B and C were all cleaned to EPA standards in the early to mid '80's before GDC came in, but the govt. keeps changing the standards, What is the alternative? Let it become an abandoned property in the middle of the down town? I cannot see how that would encourage anyone to want to move here. Unfortunately we are saddled with the debt caused by the 100 or so years of prosperity the town enjoyed (1870 -1970's) much like we as a nation today are burdening the next 100 years of generations with our 16 trillion in National debt.
Vox Populi November 03, 2012 at 03:53 PM
I believe there have been several articles on why the Burgesses passed the ED resolution and the Mayor on his Blog on October 22 gave a very detailed discussion. I presume these meetings are public since the press was in attendance and reported on it. Most meetings also have minutes published and some are recorded, which are public record. How much more transparent can you get?
Grumpy Guy November 03, 2012 at 10:31 PM
How much more transparent? How about a better clue to the purchase price than just saying it'll be less than the $8 mil appraised value? I know they cant give out the exact figure because they are in negotiations but a better clue about the price would be terrific. Also, how about letting us know where the money for the purchase and the cleanup is coming from? We arent exactly swimming in excess cash so the sources of the money needed should be disclosed since any debt servicing will be on OUR backs. THATS what I mean by more transparent.
Vox Populi November 04, 2012 at 10:53 AM
Grumpy Guy, you said it yourself it is in negotiations, anything more than the range they alluded to is more than most would say. If Conroy had all these failed negotiations, he never negotiated them in the press. Do you ask or offer to see or show your hold cards during a poker game? Depending on the price, and what grants have been applied form the reserve the town has or bonding appear to be the most likely avenues, given historic transactions.
Grumpy Guy November 04, 2012 at 06:52 PM
I dont play poker but I understand what you mean with the reference. However, I do NOT have complete and blind faith in the mayor and board of burgesses regarding the negotiations. I think they are operating with the best intentions possible but have you ever heard the phrase "the road to hell is paved with good intentions"? I'm afraid that the taxpayers are going to get stuck with some portion of the purchase price or cleanup and my taxes are high enough already. When my property tax escrow starts approaching equality with the principal and interest part of my mortgage payment, I start to get concerned. Maybe you're a homeowner. maybe you arent, I dont know. But if you are, I would think you'd be concerned about details like that.
Vox Populi November 05, 2012 at 12:23 PM
Grumpy, I am a homeowner and am concerned. However I am also a businessman that knows you have to invest $ to make money. Otherwise our downtown in all likelihood will remain empty and the businesses there that are barely surviving may not be able to hang on. Have a good week.
Grumpy Guy November 05, 2012 at 10:42 PM
I understand the idea of spending $ to make $, but I want some control/input over how the $ is spent in the first place. I'm concerned because I just dont have complete faith in our mayor and board of burgesses to get everything lined up so we dont lose $$ on the deal in the long run. Since the whole Renaissance Place deal fell flat, I'm gun-shy for the town. I'm not sure that our leaders have the business expertise to get all this done properly.
Robert Middlebrook November 17, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Get real Dawnie the laws are for the little people. If you are the 1% you can hire illegals, heck you can even rob people like Corzine did as long as you have a PAC big enough to buy congress. Remember the oligarchy got 540 electoral votes BEFORE the election. Our election is about as real as Russia.

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