Naugatuck, Waterbury seek grant from state

WATERBURY — Waterbury and Naugatuck leaders have asked state officials for up to $2.8 million to push a new road and utilities onto a 173.1 acre property straddling both communities.

Waterbury has tried for decades to develop 162.7 acres it owns on both sides of the town line. Naugatuck recently joined in the effort. Sold to a developer, it could yield immediate profits for both communities, plus additional yearly tax revenue.

Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary and Naugatuck Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess met with representatives of Gov. Dannel Malloy, along with the state’s budget and development offices on Jan. 30. They were seeking finances to help realize that development.

The plan is to market the property to a developer or developers. One preliminary design concept features nine commercial buildings and a second shows one large 850,000-square-foot warehouse.

Waterbury recently rezoned the land on its side to industrial. Putting in place financing to build a road and utilities would make it all the more appealing, said interim Waterbury Development Corp. CEO James Nardozzi, who attended the Jan. 30 meeting.

“Our goal is to make this giant piece of land as attractive for development as possible,” Nardozzi said.

Nardozzi said it’s possible, with the right design, to fit a 950,000-square-foot distribution warehouse on the site. His research has shown such massive development spaces are in high demand and short supply around New England.

City and borough officials stressed to their state counterparts their cooperative efforts on this development, including the joint purchase of a 10.5 acre property for $390,000 in November. This purchase will allow an access road to push in through Great Hill Road in Naugatuck, overcoming the obstacle of attempting an access through residential areas of Waterbury.

It’s a change from the norm of individual towns competing for development, Nardozzi stressed.

“I got the impression the state people were thrilled to see two towns working together with no disagreements on any issue at all,” Hess said. “We are hopeful and confident we will get the funding for the road.”

Waterbury and Naugatuck are seeking funding through an Urban Act grant, which would be raised through bonding, Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development spokesman Jim Watson said. There’s no set deadline for a response, he said.

O’Leary said he feels the city and borough presentation was well received. Whatever the response, O’Leary said, he intends to pursue the development.

“If we were to get approval, we could get moving right away on this parcel,” O’Leary said. “If we can’t get that approval, we aren’t going to give up.”