Board OKs grant application

NAUGATUCK — The borough will apply for state grant funding to advance its downtown development plans.

The Board of Mayor and Burgesses voted 7-0 during a special meeting Nov. 18 at City Hill Middle School to apply for up to $250,000 in grants earmarked for transit-oriented development projects, or those that utilize the rail system in Connecticut.

Naugatuck has long planned to utilize the railway to help lure residents and businesses downtown. And a new plan to put studio-style apartments for working and aspiring artists at the former General DataComm building at 6 Rubber Ave., known as Art 6, also relies heavily on the nearby Waterbury to Bridgeport line of Metro-North Railroad.

The deadline to apply for the grant funding was Nov. 14. The borough missed that deadline because officials did not realize that their plans for Art 6 would be mature enough to apply for the funding.

Mayor Robert Mezzo explained this to officials from the state Office of Policy and Management, which is distributing the grants. Mezzo believes state officials will consider the application.

The borough purchased the GDC building last year for $2 million. Officials wanted to be able to control what was going to go into the building, which they consider a prime commercial real estate parcel downtown.

“The principal of Art 6 LLC, Joseph C. Migani, proposed a mixed use redevelop of approximately 320,000 square feet, four level structure which will include residential artist lofts, corporate office space and support retail,” a letter to the state signed by Mezzo states.

A letter of support for the grant application from the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments is attached to the borough’s paperwork. The COG “fully supports municipal efforts to leverage the existing infrastructure and assets of our member communities in creating (transit-oriented development) projects as critical to (revitalization) and redevelopment (of) their downtowns and making the centers vibrant, livable and sustainable places to live and works,” the letter states.

Kurt Miller and Ed Edelson, the first selectmen of Seymour and Southbury, respectively, signed the letter as co-chairmen of the COG.

The application also includes a detailed description of the proposed project. It states that the train station “will actively be used and will draw visitors as well as commuters from around the region to Naugatuck.”

“Streets in the downtown will offer a balance among motor vehicle and pedestrian and bicycle traffic, with an enhanced streetscape that is pedestrian friendly and complementary to the character of the area,” the letter states.

It is unclear how much the Art 6 project would cost Migani or any partners he brings on board. Migani plans to seek out state and federal grants to offset the cost.

He said he has a proven history of being able to lock up grant money for other private-public partnerships, including some in downtown Seymour, where he has completed extensive projects.