NAUGATUCK — An architect who planned to build dozens of studio-style apartments for working artists in the former General DataComm building downtown believes local officials no longer support his project because they are banking on another developer to renovate the property.
Seymour-based architect Joseph Migani wants to move forward with plans to complete his Art6 project in the 320,000-square-foot building at 6 Rubber Ave., even though borough leaders said this month they have chosen not to extend his option on the property for another six months.
On July 15, however, the Zoning Commission granted Migani’s request to extend a hearing on the project for one month because Migani believes the Naugatuck Economic Development Corporation, or NEDC, has not given him a fair chance to complete his project or raise enough money to make it possible.
“The original option period was for 18 months, so that we had one year to apply for funding rounds, which occur on an annual cycle,” he said. “And because we’re pursuing state and federal money, the borough was advised that that cycle is typically from September to November. And to make applications for that funding, we need site control and zoning approval. So basically, we’re on schedule.”
Migani said he was “on the verge of spending another $300,000 for documentation that is required for another round of funding applications.”
He said he still believes in his project and that Naugatuck’s downtown can be reinvigorated. He also said it is his hope that if the initiative “by the competing developer is unsuccessful, that we might be invited back.”
While Migani did not name the developer, he is Benjamin Zitron, chief executive officer for the New Haven-based Sustainable Development Corp. The corporation’s affiliate, SBC Realty Corp., wants to construct a mixed-use project on Parcel B, which is the vacant parking lot abutting the GDC building. A borough official with knowledge of Zitron’s plans says he also wants control of the GDC building.
Zitron said last week that “when we have the plans, the public will know about them.”
He also said he is “certainly not a competing developer with anybody.”
“We are working with the borough and whatever we are doing is with their full blessing,” he said.
Migani also believes the borough violated local procedures because it did not ask the NEDC board to vote on whether to grant the extension.
Ron Pugliese, NEDC president and CEO, said the option that was granted to Migani has expired and that Migani asked for an extension.
“The position that the NEDC took, and the position that the Board of Mayor and Burgesses took, is that the option that was granted has expired,” he said. “So no action is required by the NEDC and no action is required by the Board of Mayor and Burgesses.”