Banking on purchase: Naugatuck takes ownership of bank building, now what?

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The Bank of America building at 275 Church St. Naugatuck has taken ownership of the building, which has its fate being deliberated. Andreas Yilma Citizen’s News

By Andreas Yilma Citizen’s News

NAUGATUCK — The Bank of America building in downtown is now under the ownership of the borough as its fate gets deliberated.

The Board of Mayor and Burgesses approved to purchase the building at 275 Church St. from Spelke Dawson LLC of Stamford for $1.1 million in April. Borough officials are exploring three options – to rent it out and receive revenue, for municipal use as what’s been done in the Naugatuck Event Center or to sell it to a preferred buyer. All the options would include designating some parking to the borough. The bank has been closed since last year.

The two-story building was built in 1930. The roughly 10,000 square-foot structure which also includes a mostly finished basement sits on about 1.13 acres and is appraised at $1.5 million, according to the property card.

“When we acquired it and were considering acquiring it we had many options and we still do,” Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said. “One will be to rent it out. Get it producing rent and maximizing revenue side of the equation while we acquire extra parking for downtown which we need a lot more of and while we control our own destiny by not allowing something to go in there that we don’t want. So owning it allows us to control our destiny, control what’s going to happen.”

The potential municipal use wouldn’t be for office use but for uses similar to the Naugatuck Event Center which will most likely be sold in the next year. Many people rent out the event center, nonprofit organizations use it and there are also board or commission meetings there as well, Hess said.

There is about $40,000 in tax revenue from the building, Hess added.

A few burgesses took a tour of the inside of the building. Some had concerns regarding the space or the repairs needed but still said the building is stunning.

One issue with the building is a lack of an egress from the second floor.

N. Warren ‘Pete’ Hess. Archive

“The major problem with the building is the lack of a secondary access from the second floor,” Hess said. “The roof is an issue. The lack of a real legitimate code compliant exit from the second floor is an issue. The elevator doesn’t work.”

Burgess Rocky Vitale said he didn’t realize there so many issues with the building and is concerned with having to maintain the structure with repairs as well.

“Every time I think about something, I think about money and what it’s going to cost,” Viatle said. “I think one of our options should be to put it up for sale and see what bites we get but yet preserve some of the parking for the borough.”

Burgess Meghan Smith said it sounds like a small event center with the issues.

“A lot of the problems we were having with the Event Center, the heating and cooling, there was so many issues with that building that we were just like it’s so expensive to fix,” Smith said. “I feel like we’re kind of walking into the same sort of issue with this building now.”

Hess said there are issues but there’s also a lot of demand for the building.

“When you sit in my chair, everyone wants a place to have their meetings to go,” Hess said. “It’s a convenience to the public, at a cost. So that’s the balance.”

The borough would potentially sell enough parking with the building to make it zoning compliant but retain the rest of the parking spaces for the borough, Hess said

Burgess Michael Bronko said he would hate to see someone purchase the building and do something horrible to it.

“It’s an absolute beautiful building,” Bronko said. “I like the idea that we have it so we can keep it that way and the idea of renting it out to have a revenue stream and then still being able to have parking for town use is something that I prefer for myself.”