NAUGATUCK — The borough is hoping to strike the right chord with its newest addition to the Naugatuck Event Center.
The borough is building an intimate music venue on the second floor of the Naugatuck Event Center at 6 Rubber Ave. The borough will unveil the venue on Dec. 6 with a performance by musician Anders Osborne.
The venue is the latest venture at the event center. Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said the venue works well with other elements the borough has created in the building, including a recording studio, artist studios, offices and an area for large events.
“It creates a destination where people will come. Ultimately our goal is to create a vibrant downtown with people living downtown, walking downtown, and having a vibrant [transit-oriented development] downtown setting,” Hess said.
The borough purchased the former General DataComm building and adjacent parking lot for $2 million in 2013. The plan is to turn the property, locally known as parcels A and B, into a transit-oriented development with a mix of commercial and residential uses.
In 2015, the borough entered into an agreement with developer Benjamin Zitron to develop the project. The project is primarily waiting on improvements to the Waterbury Branch Line of the Metro-North Railroad before it begins moving forward.
After taking office in 2015, Hess turned his attention to making the building a destination for events that would attract people to downtown while the development project sits in limbo.
Since the borough has an agreement in place with Zitron and the building’s future remains unclear, the borough has tried to avoid spending a lot of money on the building and has done much of the work to create the event center with Naugatuck employees.
Hess said the borough received about $20,000 from sponsors for Osborne’s performance on Dec. 6, which is by invitation only due to the agreement with the artist. The money will go toward purchasing the equipment to host a concert and ensure the space is set up, Hess said.
The work on the music venue, which has been going on for months, is being done by borough employees during their regular hours, Hess said, and the materials used have primarily come from items found around the building.
“We want to have an old industrial, cool vibe in the room. I think that everyone will be happy with the room,” Hess said.
On Nov. 19, public works employees Jay Sestilli and Dan Rollinson were busy building the venue’s bar.
Rollinson said the wood along the front of the bar came from the pallets that were lying around the building.
“The only thing we had to buy, unfortunately, was the stuff on the top. You’re not going to find sheets of plywood laying around the building. Other than that, this was built with wood from around the building,” Rollinson said.
Rollinson said using items found throughout the building isn’t the easiest way to build a venue, but everyone working on the project is dedicated to make it work.
“Yeah, it is a pain trying to use the wood here and trying to make it work. But we made it work,” Rollinson said.
In addition to the bar, borough employees built tables out of wood in the building, using the legs of the conveyer belt that ran throughout the building as legs for the tables, Hess said.
The stage itself was a stage that was in a conference room, Hess said.
“This building has unlimited, untapped potential for a downtown venue,” Hess said.
Hess said the borough is hoping to move the venue beyond live music and have people rent it out for parties, plays or movies.
“We are starting off with a live music show almost to test out the venue and see what is best suited for the spot and how we would want to operate it going forward. This is really the beginning of the process to determine what is best for the building and the town,” Hess said.
Hess also hopes the upcoming concert will raise interest in booking the venue, and that bringing in the well-known, New Orleans-based Osborne will set the tone for the venue.
“By having this event, we will show people what we have, what we’re capable of doing, and be a catalyst for more and more events in the future,” Hess said. “We want to create a spectacular venue for downtown.”
“My hope is we develop the coolest venue of any spot in Connecticut,” Hess added.