Offers made for land along Waterbury-Naugatuck border

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By Michael Puffer, Republican-American

Waterbury is seeking to develop 150 acres of land it owns on either side of its border with Naugatuck. The city is reviewing proposals submitted this month by multiple developers. -CONTRIBUTED

WATERBURY — Multiple developers have submitted offers for 150 acres of undeveloped, industrially-zoned land owned by the city near its border with Naugatuck.

Mayor Neil M. O’Leary said he cannot release details of the offers, including even how many were submitted by the Sept. 9 deadline, due to concern this information would undermine sales negotiations.

“I think the submitted proposals show some very encouraging promise for the parcel, but it is too early to say until I meet with folks and find out exactly if it’s in line with what the City of Waterbury and Borough of Naugatuck feels is in the best interest of both entities.”

Different mayoral administrations have floated development proposals for the property over the decades, with ideas including a dog track, casino and mall. None came to fruition, in large part because of steep and rocky topography along South Main Street that would make development in that area costly and difficult.

O’Leary partnered with Naugatuck Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess to allow access through the borough’s industrial park. The resulting deal will see Waterbury taking all the profits from any land sale, then splitting future property tax revenue evenly with Naugatuck.

The state has pledged $2.8 million to build a road and extend utilities into the parcel.

This is Waterbury’s second try to market the property in a little more than a year.

A single developer, R.D. Scinto Inc., of Shelton, submitted a proposal in April 2020 to the last city solicitation. The developer proposed a 500,000-square-foot manufacturing facility, bringing 300 jobs and, eventually, about $4.5 million in property tax revenue.

O’Leary canceled that solicitation on June 17, cutting off the process after more than a year passed without sealing a deal. The city subsequently released a second advertisement, called a request for proposals.

In order to protect municipalities’ bargaining power, state law allows responses to proposals to remain secret until a deal is reached or negotiations are called off.