NAUGATUCK — Borough officials will consider giving an option to an investor interested in building a mixed-use commercial and residential project on a vacant parcel downtown.
The Naugatuck Economic Development Corp. will discuss Monday a proposal by an unnamed developer who wants to build on what is known as Parcel B, a vacant parking lot abutting the former General DataComm property at 6 Rubber Ave.
If the NEDC approves the plan, it will be sent Tuesday to the Board of Mayor and Burgesses, which has the authority to approve an option.
Parcel B is the lot where the first phase of the now-defunct Renaissance Place project was supposed to be built. The property, visible along Old Firehouse Road, has sat vacant for close to 30 years. Previously, it was home to a building that was used by the former Uniroyal Chemical Co.
The option being discussed would give the developer time to come up with financing for his proposed project, the details of which have not been made public. In that time, the borough could not seek out other developers and would work exclusively with the chosen developer.
Currently, the borough has an option with two developers interested in putting 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 company wants to build apartments for working artists.
Ron Pugliese, NEDC president and chief executive officer, said the borough has made a lot of positive small steps in the past 18 months in downtown economic development.
“What we need is that one big bang; we need to get a shovel in the ground,” he said. “…We will keep plugging away at it.”
Naugatuck has torn down two blighted properties downtown [Dash] the former hub of the rubber industry, Building 25, and a former restaurant at 1 South Main St. Additionally, funding has been lined up to repair and renovate the Whittemore Bridge on Maple Street, and the borough has a restaurant owner interested in putting an eatery at the former train station on Water Street.
Finally, the borough is working with the state Department of Transportation to move the train station platform closer to downtown. Naugatuck is hoping to tap into funds earmarked for the state’s initiative to improve transit-oriented development, or projects that incorporate the railway, Pugliese said.
Mayor Robert A. Mezzo said the Parcel B proposal will be consistent with the type of development Naugatuck has pursued for many years.
“It’s exciting; we’re seeing interest in all the parcels we own significantly increase,” he said. “This is what we hoped would happen when we made the decision to buy the GDC building, clean Parcel C and market the train station. We’re cautiously optimistic.”
NEDC Chairman Jay Carlson said the developer interested in Parcel B has a proven track record of building higher-end housing.
“So it’s not like (Renaissance Place developer) Alex Conroy who was making promises and couldn’t deliver,” Carlson said. “…People are getting interested now because Naugatuck is turning into a hot commodity. Yes, we’ve spent 15 years getting to this point and it’s been a long 15 years, but everyone has put in the work and it doesn’t happen overnight.”