Officials to seek developers for land that straddles Naugatuck-Waterbury border

Naugatuck and Waterbury officials are working together to develop land that straddles the border of the two municipalities. -REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN ARCHIVE

WATERBURY — Sometime within the next two months, the city will officially begin seeking developers for a roughly 160-acre parcel straddling its border with Naugatuck.

Mackenzie Demac, chief of staff to Mayor Neil O’Leary, said the city will release a request for proposals within 60 days.

In their responses, developers will be asked to outline not just how much they’re willing to pay for the property, but also how they’ll develop it.

City officials are looking for job creation and future taxes. Ideally, they’re looking for a single structure of up to near 1 million square feet. They’ve also drafted up a concept in which the property could be split among several industrial or commercial buildings.

Even without an advertisement, three would-be developers have walked the property in company of Waterbury Economic Director Joseph McGrath.

Two were simply looking for large building sites, and were informed of the potential by McGrath. A third asked to see the site specifically, McGrath said.

“The general reaction is it is developable and it’s fairly level at points,” McGrath said.

The visitors asked about the soil compression, and so the city paid a contractor to perform borings and draft up a geotechnical report, now viewable on the website of the Waterbury Development Corp.

A series of mayoral administrations had floated one idea after another for the site, including a dog track, a casino and a mall.

These all fell flat, partially due to the extreme difficulty getting into the property due to steep slopes on the Waterbury side by South Main Street.

O’Leary and Naugatuck Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess struck a deal to jointly develop the property, accessing it through a Naugatuck industrial park.

Waterbury owns the land on either side of the border. It will get any sales revenue. The municipalities agreed to evenly split future tax revenues.

The Connecticut State Bond Commission, in June 2018, agreed to grant $2.8 million in economic development funds to push a road and utilities into the property. That work will happen after a developer is picked, to tailor infrastructure to a specific user.

McGrath said he feels there is significant interest in the property and the response to the pending city RFP will show if that pans out.