BY ANDREAS YILMA
NAUGATUCK — The state has awarded the borough a $3 million grant from Community Investment Fund 2030 to develop the former Uniroyal site.
Town officials previously reached a $1 purchase 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 to begin the Naugatuck Industrial Commons Redevelopment Project.
The award is part of a $98.5 million package doled out to more than two dozen municipalities and agencies, including $921,000 for Grace House Capital Improvements in Waterbury; $6.8 million for Route 72 corridor improvement in Bristol; $1.4 million for the Family Wellness Center of McCall Behavioral Health Network in Torrington and $250,000 for the Plymouth transformational plan.
CIF works to foster economic development in historically underserved communities across the state. CIF will provide a total of up to $875 million to eligible municipalities; as well as not-for-profit organizations and community development corporations that operate within them.
The funds are designated for capital improvement programs; such as brownfield remediation and infrastructure, as well as for small business capital programs, according to the state website.
Naugatuck Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said borough officials are excited because it gives them a jump start at the industrial park. The next step would be to develop a new road network with utilities for the site.
“We’ll be completing our design in the next few months, then going out to bid and starting construction,” Hess said Wednesday.
He said he hopes to go out to bid by summer. Borough officials are talking to several companies interested in the site, he noted.
“It was a real team effort to getting this funding approved,” said Hess, who thanked the borough’s state legislative delegation — Sens. Joan V. Hartley and Jorge Cabrera and Reps. David K. Labriola and Seth Bronko.
The $3 million in state funding would advance phase III of the Naugatuck project by supporting construction of permanent and temporary access roads. Local, matching funds are envisioned for complementary actions at the site, including demolition of remaining foundations, drainage improvements and site preparation for construction pads, a news release from Hartley’s office states.
“This funding approval is significant for advancing the Naugatuck Industrial Project,” Hartley stated. “Step by step, we are working closer to putting this 80-plus acre site back into productive use and growing the tax base, while unlocking the job creation benefits this project holds for the Naugatuck Valley.”
There are plans to bring in data center companies and for Metro-North’s Waterbury Branch Line to potentially develop the Port of Naugatuck on the most eastern portion of the site.
“This is an investment that will benefit Naugatuck residents and beyond, and I thank the (CIF) board for approving funding for the project,” Bronko stated.
Labriola added, “These funds will provide a huge boost in economic growth for our town and region.”
The CIF grant legislation allows up to $175 million a year for projects for five years, Naugatuck Valley Regional Development Corp. Director Thomas Hyde said.