A much-anticipated plan to revitalize downtown Naugatuck through a mix of upscale condos, shopping centers, a movie theater and other amenities will not become reality.
On Monday, Mayor Bob Mezzo announced on his blog the official end of the road for a downtown redevelopment plan known as Renaissance Place, a private and public partnership that would have required Naugatuck to complete infrastructure improvements in return for massive private investment.
The four-phase, $710 million project spanning some 60 acres was supposed to change the face of downtown Naugatuck and would have served as a destination for people of Connecticut and beyond. The first phase alone was projected to bring thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in annual tax revenue to Naugatuck.
“I don’t think there was a person involved who would not have liked to have gotten this project started right after it passed (2-to-1 at referendum) in 2007,” Mezzo said. “Unfortunately, due to some forces beyond our control, it never happened.”
Mezzo announced Monday that the borough and Fairfield-based developer Alexius C. Conroy had reached an agreement that acknowledges the development agreement between the Naugatuck Economic Development Corp. and Conroy has expired. Mezzo's blog states: none of the parties (involved) has any further obligation to the other.
“Unfortunately, the impact of the recession in 2008 dramatically transformed the financial sector of the United States,” Mezzo's blog states. “Progress on Renaissance Place slowed as some investors ceased to exist, while others became extremely cautious operating in a new and uncertain environment. Several scaled-down versions of Renaissance Place were considered to begin the project, but none came to fruition.”
Now, Naugatuck will seek new plans for economic growth downtown.
The borough will request proposals from developers at some point in the near future to see what the current market will bear. Prior to Monday, Naugatuck could not entertain such proposals because of the development agreement with Conroy, which gave him the exclusive developer status for downtown projects.
Mezzo said concepts that were discussed as part of Renaissance Place – transit oriented, mixed use development that serves as an area where people can “live, work and play” – are still going to be considered for the future of downtown.
One positive, the mayor said, is that the borough is ahead of where it was before Renaissance Place was considered. For example, state-mandated environmental impact studies for a major development project have now been completed. And Parcel C., the 1.2-acre former industrial lot on the corner of Water and Maple streets, is finally clean for the first time and primed for development.
Still, Naugatuck will not look toward big box stores to fill vacant lots and bring in tax revenue. Officials want to build in a manner that will compliment existing downtown businesses and serve as an area where people want to spend an afternoon or evening.
“We will not abandon the core concepts of how we want to redevelop downtown," Mezzo said.
* Click here to read the full prepared statement from Mezzo; Joseph “Jay” Carlson, III, Chairperson of the Naugatuck Economic Development Corporation; and Alexius C. Conroy, President of Conroy Development Company and Renaissance Place, LLC.
** See a copy of the termination agreement between Conroy and the borough attached to this article (note this copy is not signed by borough officials, although they have signed another copy).