ANSONIA – Gov. Ned Lamont stood Friday before a rotting shell of the city’s industrial past on North Main Street to celebrate a $500,000 state grant that will demolish the hulking eyesore.
“This is a really important investment. This is how you bring a city back to life,” Lamont said. “This is how we take a building that’s been here since before the Civil War, that has a great history and great bones – but it’s time to turn the page.”
Lamont was talking about the old SHW Casting Co., a vacant factory that sits on about 3.5 acres near the corner of Main Street and North Main Street.
The property is in the process of being transferred to Ansonia after its owner fell behind on taxes.
The building had fallen into disrepair. Its roof partially collapsed. Neighbors got nervous every time the wind blew because junk from the busted would rain down onto the sidewalk below.
The property sits between the former Farrel Corp. and Ansonia Copper & Brass properties, two sprawling former industrial sites downtown.
The city will have to find a company to demo the building, a project that will be put out to bid (and paid for by the $500,000 grant). Other grant money will be used to clean up any environmental contamination.
Then the property itself will be put up for sale through a bidding process. RugPadUSA, a carpet padding manufacturer that moved from Bridgeport to Ansonia in 2017, is very interested in acquiring the property to expand their operations. RugPadUSA is next to 35 N. Main.
Another 54 acres of ugly vacant industrial factory space (the old Ansonia Copper & Brass) sits next to the SHW Casting Co. and stretches north toward Liberty Street.
Ansonia Mayor David Cassetti wants to see it all demolished, a new road put in, and the land redeveloped to add to the city’s grand list.
More grant money will be needed – to the tune of $8 to $10 million (just to demolish all the buildings).
Tearing down SHW Casting is a start. Cassetti was grateful for the state’s much-needed support.
“I am grateful that our legislators and the governor feel this site is the key to unlocking Ansonia and the Valley’s future,” Cassetti said.
Also on hand for Friday’s announcement were state Sen. George Logan, R-Ansonia, state Rep. Rochelle, D-Ansonia, various members of the Ansonia Board of Aldermen, Jorge Cabrera, the Democrat-endorsed candidate running for Logan’s seat, Bill Purcell, the president and CEO of The Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce, Ansonia Corporation Counsel John Marini and Ansonia Economic Developer/Grant Writer Sheila O’Malley.
Lamont specifically acknowledged the efforts of Rochelle, who is running for a second, two-year term.
“Kara never lets go. She would talk about Ansonia, talk about economic development, talking about this location, and she pressed all my buttons; talking about transit-oriented development . . . she never lets go and that’s why we’re here,” Lamont said.
Rochelle thanked the governor for coming to see Ansonia’s progress.
“Let this be the first step of many to make the lower Naugatuck Valley a shining example of how the state can have a hand in revitalizing communities,” Rochelle said.
Logan noted the project has been in the works for a long time, and mentioned the names of former Valley legislators Linda Gentile and Joe Crisco, along with current House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby.
“This site, right in the heart of downtown Ansonia, is going to help in terms of giving us the ability to attract more development, to attract more businesses here in Connecticut,” Logan said.
The $500,000 must be approved by the state bond commission. That entity is scheduled to meet July 21. Gov. Lamont is the chairman.
The grant money to demolish the building is a series of positive developments for downtown Ansonia.
Officials point out a new police station is under construction on Main Street. New restaurants have replaced empty storefronts on Main Street. The city recently inked a deal to see two other long-blighted properties redeveloped on Main Street.