NAUGATUCK — Locals who have wondered what may become of the former Peter Paul Hershey land on Route 63 may get an idea by next month.
A new sign posted on the side of the property at 889 New Haven Road, or Route 63, states there will be an online auction for the land on Sept. 25.
“I see this as a very good sign,” Naugatuck Economic Development Corporation CEO Ron Pugliese said. “It shows that they are becoming a little more interested in selling the property and are going to take a look at every offer they get.”
The property consists of slightly more than 36 acres of relatively flat land that is zoned for commercial use. The property, which housed the Peter Paul candy factory where Mounds and Almond Joy candies were made exclusively for 85 years, has sat vacant since November 2007. That is when parent company Hershey Corporation shifted production of Mounds and Almond Joys to a new plant in Stuarts Draft, Va., where the cost of labor and taxes are cheaper. About 250 people were employed at the factory when it shuttered.
Hershey originally wanted something in the neighborhood of $11 million to $12 million for the property; the latest asking price is $7.4 million. Though there have been rumors of purchasing offers, nothing came to fruition. In hopes of luring commercial investors, Hershey applied for a zone change from industrial to commercial, which the Zoning Board in Naugatuck granted in 2008. A few years later, Hershey knocked down the building on the property, thinking that the land would be more marketable with no building on the site.
The property now sits nearly ready for someone to build on, once all of the overgrown brush is cut down.
Local commercial and industrial real estate broker Tom Hill III, who is familiar with the Peter Paul property but is not involved in the sale, said an online auction means Hershey and the company selling the property, CB Richard Ellis, are accelerating their marketing efforts.
“The auctioneer is hoping to bring in so many bidders and that the bidders will get caught up in the auction excitement and maybe pay more for the property than what it’s worth,” Hill said.
Hershey spokesman Jeff Beckman said in an email the company chose to go to auction because it’s one of the better methods of selling real estate.
“We hope the auction attracts a developer who will repurpose this prime parcel of land, which will benefit the community of Naugatuck,” Beckman said.
According to Beckman, the company plans to start the bidding for the land at about $2.22 million. It wasn’t known when the bidding would close.
“It’s too early to determine the auction’s close as the terms and conditions are still being reviewed,” Beckman said.
Luke Marshall contributed to this article.