A historic building in the heart of downtown Naugatuck that was designed by the same architect who designed the Lincoln Memorial in Washington is now on the market.
The Board of Mayor and Burgesses voted unanimously, 10-0, Tuesday night to allow the quasi-public entity Naugatuck Economic Development Corp. to market the former train station at 195 Water St. for private development.
“For years, we’ve heard about how it would be a great place for a restaurant,” Mayor Bob Mezzo said. “We heard that going back to when the Naugatuck Daily News shut down and the borough took ownership of the property. But we’ve never been approached by a restaurant, so we’re going to see who might be interested.”
History of the Building
The Naugatuck Historical Society, which is currently located in the building, states on its website that it's a “fine example of the Spanish Colonial Revival-style, a design rarely used for public buildings in Connecticut. It is primarily significant as the work of Henry Bacon (1866-1924), a major American architect who is best known as the designer of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.”
The building served as a bustling train station between 1849 to the mid-1960s, when the now-defunct Naugatuck Daily News purchased it. The borough took possession of the building in the 1990s.
Currently, Naugatuck is looking to recreate and revitalize its downtown. Reuse of the train station could play a huge role in that effort.
New Development Proposals
The NEDC has put out several requests for proposals for a downtown development plan after the long-anticipated Renaissance Place downtown revitalization project failed. Voters overwhelmingly supported Renaissance Place during a referendum in May of 2007, but the project's exclusive developer Alex Conroy lost many of his financial backers following the recession that began seven months later. The borough tried to work with Conroy for nearly four more years to get a deal completed, but it never panned out and Naugatuck finally pulled the plug on Renaissance Place.
The NEDC has received new development proposals for downtown but it is not making those public at this point.
“We’ve gotten multiple responses, however none of them involve the train station,” Mezzo said. “This would allow us to singularly market that property through the NEDC in a manner to what was done with Prospect Street School.”
NEDC has received development proposals for Parcel C (the vacant lot on the corner of Maple and Water streets) and Parcel B (the parking lot near General DataComm. building).
Where Does the Historical Society Go?
The ultimate plan is to move the historical society’s headquarters into the Tuttle Building at 380 Church St. That building currently houses many of the Board of Education’s administrative offices. Once the Naugatuck High School renovate-to-new project is completed, the historical society headquarters would be moved into the Tuttle Building.
The Tuttle Building is deed restricted, so the borough could not sell the building for private or commercial development.
"There is also the issue of Building 25, which we’ve tried for many years to make into a museum honoring the past of the Uniroyal Footwear Company,” Mezzo said.
Unfortunately, he said, the numbers don’t work for that type of proposal and now the borough is looking into a plan to preserve some essence of that building and relocate it into Tuttle. Part of that building would have a museum that honors the borough’s industrial past.
"I believe there is excitement about the opportunity for development of commercial activity (at the train station) that would take advantage of the active rail line, take advantage of the location to the river and potentially offer ancillary services that would compliment the rail line," he said.