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Factory Redevelopment Plan Moves Forward

by Jodie Mozdzer Gil | Jul 11, 2011 4:53 am

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Posted to: Ansonia

PHOTO: Jodie MozdzerThe Valley Council of Governments and the City of Ansonia have finished cleaning up environmental contamination two former factory sites downtown.

That means developer Duke Realty can finally move forward with plans to transform the properties into a condominium complex, according to city officials.

Ansonia owns the two buildings — at 153 Main St. and 497 East Main St. — and has an agreement to sell them to Duke Realty for $1.5 million.

“We were supposed to have a clean property in order for them to get started,” said Mayor James Della Volpe last week. “We’ve finished our part.”

The city has been in talks with Duke Realty for several years to develop the land.

In 2003, Ansonia chose Duke Realty as its preferred developer for the site, according to the New Haven Register.

Then in 2008, the city sold the property to Duke Realty, contingent on the city doing environmental clean-up at the site.

PHOTO: Jodie MozdzerThe two properties back up to each other on the block bordered by East Main Street, Main Street and Kingston Drive.

The Main Street building includes the Senior Center, which will stay in the building under the agreement.

The Clean Up

For the past 18 months, Ansonia has performed clean-up at the site using about $260,000 in grants from the Valley Council of Governments, which oversaw the work.

Arthur Bogen, an environmental planner for Valley COG, said most of that time was spent doing paperwork and getting legal approvals to work on the property.

Officials spent about four months — from June to October 2010 — removing contaminated soil and a boiler building from the land, Bogen said. The contaminants included mostly oil and some metal contamination, he said.

The state and federal government regulate what levels of contamination are acceptable, and Bogen said the site is now clean enough to develop.

“This is an example of how municipalities have to take on so much to prepare sites for redevelopment, but if they have a vision like Ansonia does, and you have a mayor who drives on it like Mr. Della Volpe does, you can get there,” Bogen said. “You can drive through.”

Article continues after document.

Palmer CRP

Downtown Living

In 2006 Duke Realty proposed building 55 condominiums in the two former factory buildings — one that’s three stories high, the other that’s five stories. The proposal would include a landscaped courtyard between the two buildings, and more parking for the tenants.

John Sponheimer, an Ansonia attorney representing Duke Realty, said the developer still plans to move forward with the land purchase and condo plans.

Ansonia forwarded Sponheimer the finished environmental reports this week.

“Duke is definitely still interested in the project,” Sponheimer said. “They’re getting the environmental reports out to their lenders and their environmental consultants now.”

The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission approved a zone change for the site in 2009, but Duke Realty still needs to get approval for the development plans, according to Ansonia’s Corporation Counsel Kevin Blake.

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Comments

posted by: Truman on July 11, 2011  9:18am

Well, I am all for the redevelopment of the entire Main St/East Main St area. Lord knows it is desperately in need of a face-lift. However, I question using these old buildings as condominiums. I feel they do little to expand the tax base - I would rather see business attracted to the area (perhaps factory outlets in that area?).

In today’s housing market it just does not make sense to me to add 55 condos in downtown Ansonia. I haven’t been by the Lincoln-Hayes condos in a while, but that last time I did pass by (winter) they looked pretty vacant. I would hate to see this become something similar.

posted by: Truman on July 11, 2011  1:21pm

Sox -

I wish I had the faith and the vision that you do. If I’m one of those young couple making $150K per year, in your example, then I personally would not be moving to downtown Ansonia. How much are you going to pay for a condo that has Farrels (serious blight issues) as your next door neighbor? And while I like the additions of restaurants like Crave and Antonio’s to Main Street, I would be concerned with the three bars downtown whose clientele prove to be problems for the police on a regular basis. I just don’t see the draw (I would rather go to the Lincoln Hayes condos).

Personally, I think the surrounding Valley towns have much more to offer the young couples than Ansonia does (including better school systems, which would be something quite important to the younger crowd).

Either way, I hope YOU are right and I am wrong because Ansonia desparately needs something to improve its image.

posted by: JrShor-Tel on July 11, 2011  11:44pm

To clarify the present day economics more accurately in response to the previous comments.
One states:
“Lincoln Hayes is not a valid comparison;”
I truly believe there is not much to compare as the building is half empty. A friend of mine who lived there prior to the real estate crash told me of his car being broken into and the heavy section 8 & 11 population in the neighborhood making it difficult to live. An extremely large Rental community back-drop against a weak market for condo ownership is predicted until 2022.
One states:
“The difference now in bringing thousands of new residents to the Valley’s downtowns is that they don’t work here, they work in the City of New Haven and Fairfield County. They can’t afford to live there though and we’re talking couples making $150k / year.”
My wife and I gross slightly above your example by 20K but chose to move from Ansonia because visionary’s never calculated the future correctly like the town of Shelton by example. My wife works in Middletown & I in Harford as we made the river leap to Shelton. You do not have to make a lot of money to live in some of the newer developments in Shelton. Its all management.
To this day we still see minimal survival tactics being deployed in Ansonia to keep a tax base low when sometimes the citizens must invest by paying taxes to get financial gain and positive economic infrastructure in place. In-turn you can then lower taxes after the repair to your city.
If I were Mr Duke, I am not quite sure if I would risk placing my hard earned and borrowed dollars in an area where my neighbor (Farell Buildings) does not want to deploy a similar facelift by VISION but instead carry on the city’s BLACK EYE & pealing facet.

posted by: Ramona on July 12, 2011  1:50am

Can anybody tell me who “Duke Realty” really is? Jodie, maybe you can do a little digging and find out.

posted by: JrShor-Tel on July 12, 2011  7:48pm

RE: The previous Sox statement would need an aggressive marketing effort and some type of visual attractant into the subject area of industrial re-development:
“I’m not talking about moving families downtown, just young couples and singles; you’ll be surprised how much you can stabilize a downtown with 5-10 transitional housing for young professionals who can’t afford Fairfield County.”
RE-Your vision and strategy to attract the young is key to an operational and functional downtown based on the social aspects and economic behaviors of the young. By example I consider my wife and I fairly young , 30 something’s as we pulled out of UCONN some 10 yrs ago. Lived in one of the many heavy rental sectors Ansonia paying off our loans.(Affordable yes) but found out why it was so affordable due to the background and building backdrops within steps of our door . The backdrop left one isolated to a factory style impression within a ¾ of a mile walk & provided little or no relief to the large rental neighborhoods we see so much of in Ansonia. It did not take long to ask ourselves the question, what type of sociological & economic reasoning could a landlord market this area for rental purposes? The answer was straight forward. We began to see the theory behind affordable living with the influx of “ENTITLEMENT living” taking over the many rental areas with Big Y shopping carts equipped with 2 cylinder engines. This really is not funny but more of a social-Aid influx and federal problem in Ansonia.
My wife started to ask me why know one wanted to visit us. That’s when I paid the penalty on my lease.
To clarify ......My grandfather as well as anyone’s education could teach us all a thing or two.  BEFORE YOU PLANT A NEW GARDEN FOR THE GROWING SEASON,  one must rid that garden of all the OLD Growth ( Industrial eye sores) prior to planting NEW SEEDs ( The concept of young plants moving into new condos) All will benefit if given the bright light of an idea once the young plants realize….hey these growing conditions and my surroundings are comfortable to live in from the very start of my new fondation. SIMPLE- Clean-up and they will come.
The above concepts and conditions that presently exist within a mile or so of the subject area is key to young growth retention. This can be more pronounced from all my single friends who migrated from Ansonia in the past years and found universal agreement with developers in the CANAL STREET area of Shelton.  There is a huge CLEAN-UP undertaking for affordable condo/Apt style living with commitments and by using the correct build process underway be a positive tool to attract us young-ums.

posted by: Truman on July 12, 2011  9:36pm

Sharpeye: I would love it if condos did work out. I’m just saying I don’t think they have a prayer. As Jr and I are saying, Ansonia must first take steps at beautifying the area before they hope to draw folks in. There is absolutely no way you can convince to buy a condo in an area of town that looks like The land that time forgot. They simply will not sell.

And Sox - the reason Shelton has “North Carolina” taxes is because they’ve actually done a great job bringing businesses into the area. In Ansonia, we taxpayers are carrying a heavy burden because our leaders do not understand the concept of economic development. They brought in Target (and have to give some of that money back)...but what else have they done? We desperately need viable businesses in the Main St corridor. Filling up Main St with storefront churches, bargain basement garbage stores and barber shops does not help.

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