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.