Borough redevelopment project underway after sale of land

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Naugatuck Mayor N. Warren ‘Pete’ Hess, left, and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn, discuss the Port of Naugatuck project on June 1, 2021, at the proposed site off Elm Street. CN archive

By Andreas Yilma Citizen’s News

NAUGATUCK — Borough officials have reached an agreement with Lanxess Corp., a successor to Uniroyal Chemical, to acquire roughly 86 acres off Elm Street between the Naugatuck River and Cherry Street Extension for $1 to begin the Naugatuck Industrial Commons Redevelopment Project.

There are plans to bring in data center companies and potentially develop the Port of Naugatuck on the most eastern portion of the site by Metro-North’s Waterbury Branch Line.

Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said Lanxess has completed the remediation and the borough is beginning the soil management capping phase. The borough will be capping certain areas with buildings, liners or asphalts, Hess said.

The western portion will be one of the first areas to be developed, and officials have two potential data centers interested, he said.

“The reason this site is extremely attractive for that type of use is the proximity to the electric substation,” Hess said.

Borough officials are still working with railroad companies to determine whether the Port of Naugatuck project will move forward.

“So the first two things that will happen on-site would be construction of the road network, utilities and … pad sites, and the building of the temporary construction roads so that soil can start to be relocated,” Hess said Tuesday at the Board of Mayor and Burgesses meeting.

The board voted at a special meeting July 21 to apply for an $8 million state Community Investment Fund grant to construct the road network and bring utilities to the property. Hess said officials hope to receive the funds on the first attempt, but there will be several bites at the apple to obtain the funds.

Naugatuck Valley Regional Development Corp. Director Thomas Hyde said the new state grant program offers $175 million annually over the next five years, and projects that have private investments and are shovel-ready will rank higher than those that don’t.

“So it’s really important to have developers who are ready to go once the project comes to fruition,” Hyde said.

State Reps. David K. Labriola, R-131st, and Rosa C. Rebimbas, R-70th, and Sens. Jorge Cabrera, D-17th, and Joan V. Hartley, D-15th, signed a letter in late June stating their strong support for the borough’s Community Investment Fund application.

The Inland Wetlands and Zoning commissions already approved a special permit for the site last year.

“It’s just nice to see all of these properties that have been long abandoned, there’s actually movement being done, and I think at this point any progress is good progress,” Burgess George Mudry said.

Burgess Charles Marenghi said, “You know how every plaza needs an anchor store to really build around. A data center … that’s the type of thing that’s going to bring other businesses closer to Naugatuck or into Naugatuck to want to use it.”

Deputy Mayor Rober Neth added, “The project is a no-brainer. Any approvals by the state of Connecticut should be no-brainer. This is an ultimate project not only for Naugatuck but for the whole state.”