The developer cited by the City of Ansonia for a host of blighted conditions at a former industrial property on Main Street has appealed, saying construction to redevelop the property will begin within 60 days.
A hearing on the “remediation plan” from the developer, Moustapha Diakhate, has been scheduled for Jan. 7 at 6 p.m. in City Hall.
UPDATE Dec. 10 at 1:41 p.m.: The blight hearing on the property has been rescheduled to Dec. 10 at 5:30 p.m. in City Hall.
The city sent a blight notice Nov. 12 to Diakhate threatening his company with fines of more than $20,000 per day if he does not fix up 501 E. Main St., the former “Process Lab” of the Farrel Corporation.
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Diakhate bought the five-story, 88,000-square-foot building in January 2013, along with several other buildings formerly owned by the Farrel Corporation, for a total of $1.9 million.
At the time of the purchase, he and officials envisioned a mixed-use redevelopment of 501 E. Main St., to include residential and retail components. City officials hailed it as a potential rebirth for downtown Ansonia, which has several large and crumbling old factories.
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But months went by and no plans were ever filed with the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission.
Meanwhile, the company that financed the sale of the property filed notice in City Hall of its intention to foreclose on the property.
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The city has already done some work at the property to fence off access to it, Corporation Counsel John Marini said Tuesday (Nov. 25) after David Blackwell Sr., the city’s anti-blight officer, discovered evidence of squatters living there.
City crews had previously fenced off an alley on the property between East Main Street and Main Street.
Diakhate replied to the city’s blight letter Monday (Nov. 24).
“Buildings have been in same condition prior to our acquisition,” Diakhate wrote as his reason for contesting the blight citation. “Buildings are being redeveloped — and all blight issues will be fixed during major construction to start within 60 days.”
Diakhate attached a “remediation plan” that details the work his company plans to do on the property.
The plan says that Diakhate’s company “contemplates submission of site plan approval in December 2014.”
“During course of construction, windows will be removed and replaced,” the remediation plan says. “In the interim, management intended to install tarps on the interior of the ground floor of the structure. All broken panes of glass will be removed.”
Diakhate’s remediation plan also envisions power washing or painting over graffiti on the property, removing overgrown weeds, and sweeping cement and debris.
That work will start Jan. 1 and be done Feb. 1, according to the plan.
Marini, who wrote a beefed-up anti-blight law passed by Aldermen this year, said the city will see what Diakhate presents at the Jan. 7 hearing.
If the “blight conditions” cited by Blackwell are all fixed up by then, chances are the blight citation would go away.
If the building is still blighted, a “blight hearing officer” — one of two local lawyers, Joseph Jaumann or Keith Murray — will decide whether Diakhate’s remediation plan is workable.
“Typically they’re going to look for a solid time frame and some evidence that it will be done,” Marini said.
The hearing officer could give Diakhate more time to fix up the property.
But Marini noted that if that happened and the city didn’t see any progress at the site, the fines threatened in Blackwell’s letter would be retroactive back to the day it was received by Diakhate.
The Valley Indy sent Diakhate a message seeking comment Tuesday afternoon.
He said this month that he would presenting redevelopment plans for the property soon and that his company also had the property’s foreclosure under control.