Borough offered $4 million
Big project planned for Uniroyal parcels A and B
BY PAUL SINGLEY
REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN - 09/29/2015
A developer wants to spend $4 million on this property in downtown Naugatuck. He plans to build a residential and commercial project on the land.
NAUGATUCK — A Westchester County real estate developer has offered the borough $4 million to acquire two land parcels in the heart of Naugatuck's downtown.
Developer Benjamin Zitron plans to build a grandiose commercial and residential project on downtown properties where former industries once thrived. Those properties are known locally as the former Uniroyal Chemical parcels A and B.
"This is a huge deal for Naugatuck and something that will benefit the community and surrounding communities tremendously," said Jay Carlson, chairman of the Naugatuck Economic Development Corp. On Monday, the development corporation voted unanimously at Town Hall to move forward with drafting a tentative agreement to transfer ownership of the parcels to Zitron after a series of steps are taken, including land use approval and millions of dollars in contamination cleanup. Zitron, who lives in Westchester, N.Y., and is chief executive officer of the New Haven-based Sustainable Development Corp., wants to build dozens of commercial buildings and between 300 and 400 residential dwellings in the borough's downtown.
Parcel A is a seven-acre parking lot on the corner of Old Firehouse Road and Maple Street. Parcel B is a more than 360,000-squarefoot former U.S. Rubber Co. and Uniroyal Chemical industrial warehouse that most recently housed the world headquarters for General DataComm. The borough owns both parcels. The agreement with Zitron would call for him to take ownership of the property on June 30, 2017, after remediation efforts to remove underground contaminants are complete. The cleanup, which would require state and federal funds to finish, is estimated to cost $1 million to $14 million, Carlson said.
The deal would require the state Department of Transportation to move the former train station platform from 195 Water St. to the site of the proposed development between Parcels A and B.
Discussions between the borough and the state DOT are ongoing, and Zitron has been engaged in those, said Edward "Ned" Fitzpatrick, borough attorney.
Other developers have looked at the parcels in the recent past. The difference between Zitron and the other developers is that Zitron has money to put up right now and doesn't need to wait for loans or grants to begin development, Carlson said.
"He's paying with cash out of pocket, no financing," Carlson said.
The proposal needs approval from the Board of Mayor and Burgesses and land use boards. Realistically, Carlson said, development should begin in 2017.
Zitron said Monday night he had not had an opportunity to discuss the outcome of the NEDC meeting with borough officials.
"I want to speak with them, and I know there are going to be other meetings coming up, so once those happen, I will be glad to discuss the plan in detail," he said.
Ron Pugliese, president and CEO of the NEDC, said he's thrilled to work with Zitron, who he called a wonderful developer. "This is a great thing for Naugatuck," he said. "Everything we've been working toward is starting to come to fruition downtown, and it's an exciting time."
Contact Paul Singley at email@example.com, on Facebook at RA Naugatuck or on Twitter @RANaugatuck.