Developer gets option for Parcel B

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Borough officials have approved an exclusive development option for the vacant parking lot known as Parcel B, pictured above, on Rubber Avenue. –REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN
Borough officials have approved an exclusive development option for the vacant parking lot known as Parcel B, pictured above, on Rubber Avenue. –REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

NAUGATUCK — A New Haven-based firm has set its sights on turning a vacant lot downtown into a mixed-use commercial and residential development.

Naugatuck officials have granted Sustainable Development Corporation an exclusive agreement to develop, with an option to buy, the borough-owned lot known as Parcel B.

Parcel B, which is about 5 acres, is the vacant parking lot that abuts the former General DataComm property at 6 Rubber Ave. Previously, it was home to a building that was used by the former Uniroyal Chemical Co.

Benjamin Zitron, chairman and CEO of Sustainable Development Corporation, envisions building a mixed-use project with retail stores on the bottom floor and “high-end” apartments above the stores, according to officials.

“Very similar to what we’ve envisioned would go there for many years, it’s just we’ve got somebody that has a proven track record and the financial backing to make it happen, now,” Chairman of the Naugatuck Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors Jay Carlson said.

The NEDC board backed the agreement Monday night and sent a positive referral to the Board of Mayor and Burgesses. The borough board authorized Mayor Robert Mezzo to execute the agreement at its meeting Tuesday night.

Mezzo said the project is very consistent with what the board had envisioned for the borough’s downtown.

“This is a preliminary agreement that will allow him to put his team together, gauge interest, and come back with more specific proposals to present to us,” Mezzo said.

The agreement grants exclusive rights for six months for Sustainable Development Corporation to develop plans for the site. All of the plans will have to come back before borough officials and land use boards for approval. If all goes as planned, the company will have the option to buy the parcel for $2 million, according to the agreement.

Ron Pugliese, president and CEO of the NEDC, said Zitron has significant finances behind him to make the project a reality. The only help he would need from the borough and the state is environmental cleanup of the site before construction begins, Pugliese said, adding that the amount of work necessary is “significant.”

The agreement with Sustainable Development Corporation adds to the growing list of projects in the works downtown.

The borough currently has options with developers on two other parcels downtown. Two developers are working to build a medical facility anchored by Saint Mary’s Hospital on the property known as Parcel C, the vacant tract on the corner of Maple and Water streets. And O’Riordan Migani Architects of Seymour has an option on the General DataComm building. The crux of the company’s plan is to build apartments for working artists.

The borough is also planning to sell the former train station on Water Street to Trumbull resident Umberto Morale, who wants to turn the building into a restaurant.

Carlson said all the activity happening downtown makes Parcel B a desirable piece of property.

“With all these other things being built if you put the right thing there it will be successful,” Carlson said. “It’s kind of like a snowball; it’s all starting to happen. It’s actually very exciting.”

Pugliese said the option for Parcel B shows the borough is continuing to move forward with the redevelopment of downtown. He said now a shovel has to be put in the ground.

“I’m very, very excited about where we are at this point,” he said. “We’ve done an awful lot in a year and a half, and we just keep building momentum. I think this is a very large step forward.”

Luke Marshall and the Republican-American contributed to this article.