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Borough to Purchase GDC Property for $2 Million

Naugatuck officials believe the property is key to the economic growth of downtown.

 

Fearing that a former industrial building downtown could sit vacant for several more years - or be purchased by someone who wants to build a big box store - borough officials voted 8-1 during a meeting Wednesday to purchase the General DataComm. building at 6 Rubber Ave. for $2 million.

Borough officials say the building and its abuting land is “key to the future revitalization of downtown Naugatuck and the redefinition of Naugatuck as a regional center,” according to a resolution passed by the Naugatuck Economic Development Corp. Officials have released no plans for reuse of the property and they hope that a developer will come along who has plans for smart growth with businesses that would enhance other businesses downtown, not detract from them.

“By purchasing the GDC property, the borough drastically increases its control over our destiny in downtown Naugatuck,” Mayor Bob Mezzo wrote on his blog last month. "...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.”

About 12 residents attended the meeting Wednesday and most were against the purchase, according to an article published by the Republican-American of Waterbury.

Right now, the plan is for the borough to pay for the property over seven years through a lease-purchase agreement. That would require the borough to pay $330,000 annually for seven years.

Burgess Mike Ciacciarella said he voted against the purchase because of risks involved with cost of cleanup and other economic issues, according to the Republican-American.

Read the full report from the Rep-Am here. (Note: non-subcribers must pay for access).

And see the full lease purchase agreement attached to this article as a PDF.

Background from previous Patch stories:

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.

SILENT WOLF December 25, 2012 at 08:29 PM
Mr Mike Merry Christmas, If you read my statements I indicated ,that our tax money is not being used wisely and that we need people like the ones you mentioned back in our town, You may not used the green in town , but you don't live here alone , I didn't say spend thousands, it doesn't take that to make it look nice .I agree with many somehow tax money is not spent wisely. the recreation parks are not kept up, and are always vandalized , but we'll leave that for another discussion .Bottom line is this we need to have this town more accountable for everything they do. It's going to be a hard road ahead with this economy and Connecticut being one of the most undesirable in the Union with taxes on tax over and over again . I strongly believe this town's last purchase is a NO NO..and wishful thinking..I can only hope I am wrong ..
Vox Populi December 26, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Mr Mike, if you go back and look at the budgets, the town spent very little on Renaissance place, and much of what was done was paid for with state or grant funds for studies that can be used for any development projects downtown. It was the developer that spent the most money on people, architects, plans etc, and he got nothing. As has been stated publicly and in numerous articles, this did not move forward due to the real estate collapse, not due to any other reasons.
Pays Attention December 28, 2012 at 02:10 AM
Mr. Mike, Appreciate the response. So what positions presented by the town leadership in favor of this purchase do you disagree with and what are your positions regarding what the Town should be doing to better its situation?
Mr Mike December 28, 2012 at 07:38 PM
Dear Pays Attention, I have not read Mayor Merzzos blog, do not even know how to get to it.But I have read the original article(above) on the Patch.I see several inconsistancies such as in one statement it says "hopes a developer will come along..." and then in another says " unlikely a developer would spend for remediation of site". I think Bourough is in fantasy land if they think anyone will want to develop on this site with all the cleanup costs. So we should buy it and end up paying for remediation? I say no. Also, the location of this site to my mind is not "key area" to downtown revitalization. It is on a side/back street out of the sight of most of "downtown. And again, who would be willing to spend all the extra money needed to remediate it? Why is the town looking for some developer that wants to do "small sites"? What's wrong with the "Big Box Store". Or, for that matte, leaving it vacant? Would not the previous owner(GDC or Uniroyal, if it still exists) still be responsible for paying taxes on it? If not, why not? Come to think of it, why can't GDC, the owner of the property, be required to pay for remediation to get it up to EPA standards? For that matter, why wasn't Uniroyal force to pay for remediation when they left town? I feel that the Town Planners/Development Agency are truly coming up with "pie in the sky" concepts that have no basis in reality. I seriously doubt that Naugatuck will ever be a "regional Center"; .
steve behlman jr January 15, 2013 at 03:11 PM
Mr mike you said it all in a nut shell. We are already going to spend too much on the highschool project. And do we even know exactly how much the state is going to give us toward that project? And what's to say they can just say they don't have the money when we are halfway through the project and the extras alone come to 50,000 dollars. I just can't believe you can spend two million dollars on something and have no idea what you are going to do with it. Plus whatever exta costs comes with it. And to not let the taxpayers vote on it is an absolute outrage. Coming up with ways to get around a vote is despicable. We need a leader in this town that will speak up for us and have our interests at heart. Look we are chasing all of the commercial business"s out rather than give the incentives to stay. And let me tell you the homeowners in this town are not to far behind. While our taxes are going up our homes are depreciating.

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