Board opts not to renew Art6 option

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NAUGATUCK — Borough officials have decided not to extend an option for the Art6 project.

The Board of Mayor and Burgesses last week didn’t renew an agreement with Joseph Migani, an architect and owner of the Seymour-based O’Riodan Migani Architects, to develop the former General DataComm building downtown.

In October, the board granted Migani a six-month contract for exclusive development rights of the borough-owned 320,000-square-foot building at 6 Rubber Ave. The contract included an option for the borough to extend the agreement another six months.

The borough bought the 10-acre former General DataComm headquarters for $2 million in 2013.

The project called for building studio-style apartments for working artists on the third and fourth floors of the building, office space on the second floor, and a mix of retail and parking on the first floor of the building.

The plan was heavily reliant on receiving grants and loans, which officials said were not materializing.

Naugatuck Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Ron Pugliese said the borough’s concern was not with the Art6 concept, but rather the magnitude of the project. The $80 million plan relied primarily on state and federal grants and loans that were not coming through, Pugliese said.

“It wasn’t the option or project,” Pugliese said. “It was the fact that [Migani] applied for several grants and loans and federal and state tax credits and very little had come through.”

Pugliese said the future of the project came into doubt since Migani wasn’t able to obtain as much funding as he originally hoped.

“He based his success on the project on state and federal tax credits, which never came through,” Pugliese said.

A message left with Migani seeking comment wasn’t returned as of this post. In an email sent Wednesday to Mayor Robert Mezzo, Migani wrote that Art6 LLC will withdraw an application for a site plan approval and creation of a special design district, which is currently in front of the Zoning Commission, withdraw an application to the State Historic Preservation Commission for designation of the warehouse as historically significant, and close out the current Making Places Grant awarded to the borough on behalf of the Art6 initiative.

“We regret the burgesses’ decision but sincerely wish you the best of success in developing the property and former mill site,” Migani wrote.

Jay Carlson, chairman of the NEDC Board of Directors, said the arts project had merit, but can’t move forward without financial backing.

“It’s in Naugatuck’s best interest to develop the property as quickly as we can,” Carlson said.

He said he would like to see it in the private sector where it can generate tax revenue.

“We don’t see that happening at this point with the Art6 project, unfortunately,” Carlson said.

Although the contract with Migani has just come to an end, Pugliese said the borough is close to an agreement with another developer who is interested in the GDC building and the adjacent 5-acre lot known as Parcel B.

“We feel this other developer has a much better opportunity to get funded and get the project done,” Pugliese said.

Pugliese said last week he couldn’t identity the developer or discuss the project.

In April, the borough granted an exclusive agreement to develop, with an option to buy, Parcel B to the New Haven-based development company Sustainable Development Corporation.

The Republican-American contributed to this article.