Industrial park nears capacity

Scott Finucane, owner of Scott & Sons Land Services, works on site work for the parking lot and new drainage system for the property at 49 Raytkwich Road in the Naugatuck Industrial Park. A Better Way Wholesale Auto bought the property from the borough seven months ago. –LARAINE WESCHLER/REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

NAUGATUCK — With new businesses recently closing on a few vacant properties and others nearing a deal, the Naugatuck Industrial Park is approaching capacity.

“Basically, it is full,” Naugatuck Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Ron Pugliese said.

When two longtime business owners recently retired and another moved to Waterbury, Pugliese said they left a big hole to fill, not only in their vacant buildings, but as active members of the local Chamber of Commerce and numerous charitable organizations.

Pugliese said he tried for two years to help Sarracco Mechanical Services find a new building within the borough, but the growing company recently moved to a new site in Waterbury.

A HVAC company, VCM, bought Sarracco’s former building at 71 Naugatuck Drive in April for $450,000.

Owner Virgil Crudele said the building in the industrial park was the right fit. He and his six employees will be moving in a couple of months once renovations are complete.

The property at 88 Great Hill Road has been vacant since the owner of Coal Screw retired three years ago, Pugliese said, but it’s now under contract with a small fabrication company from Beacon Falls.

Similarly, the property at 117 Great Hill Road has been vacant since the owner of Yelding Inc., a commercial printing company, retired a few months ago. That building is being sold to an environmental company with 15 to 20 employees, Pugliese said.

“It will be very difficult for anyone coming in to match what Sarracco and Yelding have done for the town,” Pugliese said.

Meanwhile, construction work is underway on renovations at 49 Raytkwich Road, where a Better Way Wholesale Auto is moving from Rubber Avenue. The company also bought a vacant lot from the town seven months ago. It will use the new lot for service, car washing, detailing and storage, while the building down the street is being renovated for a showroom and executive offices, Pugliese said.

At the end of Rado Drive, Electric Cable Compounds is under contract with the borough to buy the lot next door for future expansion.

The old Frito Lay site at 44 Great Hill Road, which has been vacant for about two years, was bought by a Waterbury Manufacturing Co. in April, Pugliese said.

Next door, a property that has been empty for four years is seeing renewed interest, he said.

Although the borough still owns a couple of vacant properties, they are on lots with challenging topography, Pugliese said.

“We’re excited about the activity in the industrial park,” Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said.

With the existing park nearly full, Hess said he is working with Waterbury to extend the park into a 107-acre parcel owned by the city that straddles both towns.

“Mayor (Neil M.) O’Leary and myself feel that together we can find solutions that will work and result in the creation of marketable light industrial building lots,” Hess said.

He also is in negotiations to acquire the 86.5 acre Chemtura property along the Naugatuck River for light industrial development.

When the park was created in the 1970s, the people who built it didn’t know the borough’s big industrial players like Risdon Manufacturing, Uniroyal and Peter Paul would soon collapse.

“The people who built this park had a great deal of foresight,” Pugliese said. “If we had not built this industrial park, this town would be in a lot of trouble.”

Hess said he’s working with existing owners on energy projects to reduce their utility bills.

“It’s a very significant portion of our existing tax base and we’re looking to expand our space even further,” Hess said.