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Naugatuck Officials Close the Books on Renaissance Place

The four-phase, $710 million downtown revitalization project never came to fruition; Naugatuck will seek new plans for redevelopment.

 

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). 

 

Vox Populi September 19, 2012 at 05:10 PM
You know what they say about the grass is always greener on the other side.... Well It AIN'T. Everyone has been complaining about cost and crime. But if you look at towns our size range 25,000 - 50,000 ( 26 listed), we are the 6th lowest in cost and 11th lowest in crime. What we score lowest in is Leisure - last, Economy - 23rd and Education - 20th. A development as originally proposed would raise us in two cats and afford us the funds to increase the third. Source is CT Mag town survey 2011 http://www.connecticutmag.com/Connecticut-Magazine/November-2011/Rating-the-Towns-2011-25000-50000/
Jaime Corris Hammond September 19, 2012 at 05:15 PM
This is such a great conversation- can we have a community forum, or the poll that Lisa suggested? Not all of us have given up hope!
Mr. Chips September 19, 2012 at 07:29 PM
Mayor Mezzo, I was writing more or less about an out door venue. Imagine a park that was well maintained and pleasing to look at. This would provide much needed curb appeal for our entire town. This park could have a walking/biking path that connected to the downtown shops, library, churches, train station, and the new river walk. The smaller field there could be used for younger aged children as they play soccer on weekends and such. Perhaps an out door amphitheater for summer concerts and even an out door theater production. This park could also host the Duck Race, Harvest Moon Festival, car shows, and the local All Arts Festival. This would be a return to making our center of town a community center. An indoor complex like the ones that exist In Shelton would be better suited for the old candy factory property on New Haven Road.
Bob Mezzo September 19, 2012 at 09:02 PM
Good thoughts "Mr. Chips": This is a really great discussion and one I hope the community will have at length in the coming weeks. A realistic understanding of economic development theory and concepts is critical to moving the community forward in a positive way. The hardest part of the conversation for many is facing the reality that while a community can create the conditions for certain kinds of development, the private sector controls it. If investors and/or corporate executives can not justify a return, it just does not happen no matter how good of an idea we might think it is. I have heard the sports complex on the Hershey property concept referenced here and in other conversations. The problem is that the asking price for that parcel since Peter Paul closed has been somewhere in the range of seven (7) million to eleven (11) million dollars. That prices many potential buyers who would not be using for commercial/retail use out of the market. There is little incentive for a company the size of Hershey to sell the property at a loss, simply to move it. My understanding is that they have multiple sites in the United States in similar flux. I by no means want to be a naysayer for any particular concept; all ideas are good and deserve discussion. We do, however, need to recognize the challenges and obstacles we face and understand the reality that such decisions are ultimately driven by the market rather than our personal preference.
SILENT WOLF September 20, 2012 at 04:05 PM
I recently took pictures of the naugatuck green area which acn be seen on the patch photo section ... .I was appauled of it's condition . And here we are talking about adventures that in this econmy can't be met.What ever happen to the money aloted for the restoration of building 53. ??? Let's start with fixing what we have , it dosen't take millions to spruce up the center green , getting the trash out of the fountain and get it to operate again . landsaping at the green looks awful , fix that too.nearly half of the trash receptackles are broken . walkway to the memorials are dirty and trashed . suggestioin .... if the town could do this in time for spring of 2013 that would be something accomplished . and also include a few servelance cameras to watch for vandals . to be monitored from the P.D..

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