Building block

Officials celebrate opening of new medical offices

Robin Cracco, manager for Saint Mary’s Hospital’s new urgent care center in Naugatuck, gives a tour of the center May 31. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

NAUGATUCK — A site that served as a reminder for decades of Naugatuck’s industrial heyday when Uniroyal Inc. ruled downtown is now a cornerstone in a long-term plan to “bring back Naugatuck.”

Officials and medical professionals came together last Friday to celebrate the opening of Saint Mary’s Hospital’s new medical offices in the newly-constructed, roughly 35,000-square-foot building at 58 Maple St. — a lot known locally as Parcel C.

Dr. Steven Schneider, president of Saint Mary’s Hospital, said the hospital has been waiting 30 years to be part of Naugatuck’s central business community.

“We’ve had a very long-standing presence in Naugatuck,” he said. “It’s been a really key town and we consider it part of our community.”

The new medical offices take up about 15,000 square feet of the yellow-brick building and include an urgent care facility, a physical and occupational therapy office, and the primary care offices of Dr. Frank Longo and Dr. Tracey Wiles.

Saint Mary’s also plans to open a multispecialty office in the building which will offer services such as gastroenterology, cardiology and gynecology in the near future.

The new offices are an upgrade over the providers’ former sites on New Haven Road.

Schneider said the hospital’s goal is to create hubs in communities where patients can get the care they need all under one roof.

“I view this as an extension of the hospital into the community,” Schneider said.

For local officials, the medical offices and building are a building block in the revitalization of downtown.

“For 30 years, that land sat vacant. I think it means a lot for the town to get a really beautiful building at the site,” Naugatuck Economic Development Corporation CEO Ronald J. Pugliese said.

The lot has been part of different plans over the years, none of which came to fruition until developers John Lombard and Rob Oris bought the land from the borough for $150,000 a couple years ago.

“My partner John and I are very happy to be a part of Saint Mary’s commitment to the borough of Naugatuck,” Oris said. “They have a long-standing tradition in this community.”

Aside from Saint Mary’s, My Eye Dr. has a roughly 2,800-square-foot office in the building. The rest of the building is vacant at the moment as officials and the developers pursue tenants.

“We will continue to work to get more people in there,” Pugliese said.

Once a tenant is secured, Oris said the interior of the vacant space will be completed to suit the tenant’s needs.

There’s also a flat area between the building and Town Hall that can fit another 2,500-to-3,000-square-foot building. Oris said they are working with potential tenants for the site

“Hopefully in short order we’ll get that done. … The market drives demand at this point, we’ll see where we go,” he said.

For Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess, where the borough goes from here is to continue on its long-term plan to revitalize downtown.

“It’s a very important part of our plan to revitalize and bring back Naugatuck and replace industry that we lost,” Hess said about the new building on Maple Street.

Just as important, Hess said, is to keep moving forward with plans for parcels B and A — the vacant lot and former General DataComm building across the street from the new building on Maple Street.

The borough has turned the former General DataComm building into the Naugatuck Event Center for now. The plan is to develop Parcel B into a transit-oriented development, but officials say that project relies on improvements to the Metro-North Railroad Waterbury branch to provide more frequent and reliable train service.

Then there’s the plan for the “Port of Naugatuck,” an inland port where international goods would be processed through a customs outfit at a rail station, on land beyond parcels A and B.

All of the projects will blend into one plan, Hess said.

“This is an exciting day,” Hess said as officials toured the new medical offices. “But it’s part of the bigger picture of bringing back all of the former industry land that we lost, and we’re thrilled to have Saint Mary’s here in Naugatuck as part of that process.”