State conveys land to borough

Parcels eyed for downtown development

NAUGATUCK — The state has agreed to convey two parcels of land to the borough that Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess views as strategic properties for the redevelopment of downtown.

The two parcels on Elm Street total slightly more than 3.5 acres and are adjacent to the Naugatuck Event Center on Rubber Avenue. The House and Senate approved the sale of the parcels during a special session July 22. Gov. Ned Lamont subsequently signed the bill.

Under the legislation, Senate Bill 1207, the state will sell the land to the borough at fair market value as determined by the average of two independent appraisals. The plan, however, isn’t for the borough to buy the land.

Hess said the parcels are strategically located between a planned transit-oriented development on parcels A and B — the Naugatuck Event Center and adjacent vacant lot — and the site of the planned “Port of Naugatuck,” a proposed intermodal transportation hub to ship goods on a mostly-vacant 86.5 acre parcel of land on Elm Street.

“They have potential uses for either project,” Hess said about the parcels.

Most likely, Hess said, the parcels will be used for parking for the transit-oriented development. If officials find a better parking option, he said, the land could be the site of a separate building or used for the transportation hub.

Ultimately, Hess said, the plan to issue a request for proposals for the transit-oriented development project and the successful bidder would then pay for the parcels for the project. The conveyance of the land gives the borough that option.

The sale isn’t likely to happen in the immediate future. There are pieces that still need to fall into place for the transit-oriented development and transportation hub to move ahead.

The borough is seeking federal funds to build a rail spur off the Pan Am Railways line that runs to the site of the proposed transportation hub. The spur is a key component for the project. As for the transit-oriented development, officials say that project relies on improvements to the Metro-North Railroad Waterbury branch to provide more frequent and reliable train service.

“Our RFP will be timed to maximize the value of our properties, which means that when we determine that there is frequent and reliable train service, the values of the properties will increase dramatically and, at least now, our plan would be to sell the properties in a timeframe that would coincide with that so we could maximize their value and get the best uses for the downtown area,” Hess said.

For now, the parcels will remain under the control of the state Department of Transportation, the bill states. The state leases one property to SWR, LLC and the other to Lineweber Bros., LLC, according to the legislation. A message left with DOT spokesman Judd Everhart seeking information on the status of the leases wasn’t returned.