Board backs resolution to buy downtown property

The borough is looking into buying the General DataComm property to aid with redeveloping downtown. -RA ARCHIVE

NAUGATUCK — The borough has taken a step closer to acquiring the General DataComm property downtown.

The Board of Mayor and Burgesses approved a resolution Thursday night to buy the 10-acre property, located at 6 Rubber Ave., by eminent domain, though the borough isn’t looking to take it through eminent domain.

The property was the focal point of the first phase of the Renaissance Place project, a $710 million downtown revitalization proposal lead by developer Alexius Conroy. The property, which consists of two parcels of land known as parcel A and parcel B, was to be the site of multi-use development of retail, residential, and commercial entities.

Conroy could not successfully negotiate the purchase of the site. In May the borough’s contract expired with Conroy and in September the borough severed ties with Renaissance Place, leaving the borough to pursue its own options for downtown revitalization.

Last month, the Naugatuck Economic Development Corporation unanimously supported a motion to recommend the borough buy the land and the purchase is viewed as a way for the borough to control its own destiny when it comes to downtown development.

“This is very consistent with the motion that was passed by the Naugatuck Economic Development Corporation,” said Mezzo of the board’s resolution.

He explained the difference is that, while the NEDC’s motion was not legally binding, the board’s motion allows the borough to actively look into purchasing the property.

The board unanimously supported the resolution.

“I’m supporting this resolution, and I think it makes all the sense in the world in how to move forward,” Burgess Ron San Angelo said.

Although the board approved buying the land by eminent domain it is unlikely to do so.

Mezzo said including eminent domain in the resolution exempts the borough from the Transfer Act, which governs potentially environmentally compromised land purchases.

“The borough does not intend to use the eminent domain power. However, it is part of the exemption process,” Mezzo said.

The Transfer Act would require remediation to take place on the property, which was the site of the home of the Uniroyal Rubber Factory, before any construction or expansion was to take place.

The site includes the 400,000-sqaure-foot General DataComm building. How much the land will cost is unknown at this time. The part known as “Parcel A,” land at 6 Rubber Ave. that contains the building, is appraised at $8 million. “Parcel B,” the large parking lot off Maple Street, is appraised at $1.1 million.

Although the board passed the resolution, Mezzo does not yet have the authority to buy the land.

“This does not mean I am authorized to enter into any agreement, which at this time does not exist. We will continue to have negotiations with General DataComm. That agreement will come back to this board for approval, pending the favorable referral from the Planning Commission,” Mezzo said.

The purchase will now go before the Planning Commission for approval. Upon receipt of a favorable report from the commission, the borough can enter into good faith negotiations with the owners. If negotiations fail, the borough is authorized to acquire parcels A and B through eminent domain.