Blighted building comes down

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An excavator is used during demolition of the vacant building at 1 South Main St. in Naugatuck March 27. The demolition was completed over the weekend. –LUKE MARSHALL
An excavator is used during demolition of the vacant building at 1 South Main St. in Naugatuck March 27. The demolition was completed over the weekend. –LUKE MARSHALL

NAUGATUCK — An eyesore downtown is no more.

The blighted building that formerly stood at 1 South Main St. was demolished over the weekend.

The building, which was on the corner of South Main Street and Maple Street, used to house offices and a restaurant in its heyday. However, it had been abandoned for more than five years and became a point of irritation for borough officials and residents alike.

“While once the home of a great restaurant that I remember going to as a kid, the building on 1 South Main Street had unfortunately deteriorated to a point that it was an eyesore at a critical gateway entering the borough,” Mayor Robert Mezzo said.

One of the most voiced concerns was that when motorists get off Route 8 at Exit 27 the building was the first thing they see in Naugatuck.

“You’ll no longer see that,” Naugatuck Economic Development Corporation CEO Ron Pugliese said. “I think the entire image of Naugatuck is going to change when they come off the ramp.”

The building was purchased by One South Main Street, LLC, in 2011. The current owners of the property are Rich Hertel, who own Rich’s Car Works on the adjacent lot and Charles Wasoka, who owns American Vintage Furniture, located across the street from the property.

The borough had sought to tear down the building for over two years and agreed to a deal with Hertel and Wasoka to do so. As part of the deal, the borough paid Weise Construction of Norwich $42,900 to demolish the building. The borough will receive a portion of the property to use as a staging area for upcoming work on the Whittemore Bridge and ultimately to continue the Naugatuck River greenway.

“There were complaints about the building for years, and we applaud the local business owners who purchased the property from an out-of-state financial institution and have worked with the borough make the demolition a reality,” Mezzo said.

Pugliese said he expects the equipment for the bridge work to be placed on the land before the summer.

Pugliese said the demolition of the building is the first step in a chain reaction that will bring a better downtown to the borough.

“If you come off that ramp in a year from now you’ll see a park there and you’ll go over a brand new bridge, and see work on [the medical center on] Parcel C moving forward,” Pugliese said.