Drumming up interest
Borough reviewing submissions from developers
NAUGATUCK — Borough officials are combing through responses from developers interested in being part of revitalizing downtown.
The Naugatuck Economic Development Corporation put out a request for expressions of interest earlier this year to see what interest developers had in development projects downtown. The responses were due back July 30.
NEDC Chairman Jay Carlson said the corporation received about six responses back.
“Some are legitimate and some not necessarily so,” Carlson said.
Carlson declined to discuss specifics of the responses or release them publicly.
Carlson said the NEDC is currently going through the responses and talking to the companies that submitted them.
“We’re combing through information to make a decision about what direction to go in,” Carlson said. “There are some good potential ideas on the table.”
Mayor Robert Mezzo, who is on the NEDC Board of Directors, said the corporation has been meeting regularly for the past couple weeks to go over the submitted proposals.
“We have met with two different development groups and continue to explore some exciting partnerships consistent with smart-growth, mixed-use development visions,” Mezzo said.
While proposals have come in, Carlson said the NEDC is not going to endorse any of them immediately.
“We aren’t going to rush into anything because we want to make sure the decisions we make will come to fruition,” Carlson said.
Until May 2012 the borough had been in an exclusive, five-year contract with developer Alex Conroy for the Renaissance Place project. The contract expired without any shovels in the ground.
Carlson said that the NEDC is now proceeding with more care.
“We’re taking a let’s-be-careful stance and make sure the decisions we make will stick,” Carlson said.
Although Renaissance Place did not come to fruition, Carlson said signing the agreement with Conroy was still the right decision at that time.
Carlson said he feels the borough is in a much better position to begin downtown development than it was when it entered into the deal with Conroy.
“All of the work we have done in the past five years was not in vain,” Carlson said. “This put us in a strong position to move forward with a developer or developers.”
Since the contract expired, the borough has purchased the General DataComm property downtown, which was a key parcel in the Renaissance Place project.
Carlson said Conroy did not respond to the request for expression of interest. He said the NEDC would welcome a proposal from him, since the borough and Conroy parted on good terms.
Carlson said that the NEDC will continue to look over the proposals that have been submitted and interview companies it believes are the right fit for the borough.
“Then NEDC will make a decision with whom and how we will move forward,” Carlson said.
Once that decision is made the NEDC will present it to the necessary borough boards and commissions to receive approval. If the NEDC’s decision is met with approval downtown development can begin to move forward.
“What we’re doing is not something that will happen overnight. It will take a number of years before we get something built,” Carlson said. “We’re not going to rush into anything before we do our homework. We want to make sure all the pieces are in place before we push the go button again.”