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Waterbury Next

State to Invest $19 Million in Waterbury for Economic Development and Infrastructure Projects

(WATERBURY, CT) – Governor Dannel P. Malloy, joined by Waterbury Mayor Neil M. O’Leary and other state and local officials, today announced a $19.2 million package of state investment in six development and improvement projects in downtown Waterbury, as well as funding for the design of a new signalization system for Metro-North’s Waterbury Branch. The state investment package, known as “Waterbury Next,” is part of Governor Malloy’s overall commitment to investing in housing, jobs and transit-oriented and economic development to revitalize cities and downtowns across the state.

“With the help of private and public sector partners, we are identifying and investing in local capital projects in our cities and towns that lead to transit-oriented and economic development, improve the quality of life for residents and create jobs in these communities,” said Governor Malloy. “That’s exactly what the projects contained in ‘Waterbury Next’ accomplish as we work towards revitalizing cities and downtown areas across Connecticut because we know that doing so will make us a stronger, more competitive state overall.”

The “Waterbury Next” initiative will build on the momentum of the city’s revitalization in the last several years with the redevelopment of the Palace Theatre, the success of the UConn Waterbury campus and continued reductions in crime and blight.

“These initiatives represent an incredible leap forward for Waterbury, our economy and quality of life,” said Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary. “Today’s announcement will produce benefits to our entire region that will be felt for generations to come. I cannot express strongly enough how grateful we are for Governor Malloy’s continued leadership, support and assistance to Waterbury.”

The total package of $12.2 million supports six elements of the “Waterbury Next” strategy:

Up to $5 million to support the redevelopment of the historic Howland Hughes building located at 114-116 Bank Street. The city believes that with modern upgrades to the building’s interiors and facades, a significant commercial tenant with up to 500 jobs could be attracted to downtown Waterbury

$4 million of improvements in public realm infrastructure in downtown Waterbury, including new pavement, curbs, basic street trees and lights, pavers, curb alignment and drainage, and upgrades to the West end of the city’s green. The state and city believe this enhanced streetscape and public open space will make downtown Waterbury more attractive to employers and residents.

Up to $1 million to acquire the long-underutilized Anamet site located at 698 South Main Street, a contaminated brownfield site, which will enable both a new mixed-use development as well as the creation of the Naugatuck Valley Greenway, which will be a significant new public open space amenity for downtown Waterbury. Governor Malloy previously announced a $2 million grant to the city to fund the demolition and environmental remediation of the site.

$1.2 million to demolish the blighted and long-closed Prospect Street garage which will enable the construction of a new parking structure to meet the expected surge of demand for parking with an increasingly active downtown Waterbury. This new facility is expected to be privately financed and operated.

$1 million to support the city’s acquisition of the historic Rose Hill campus located at 63 Prospect Street to be repurposed for a mix of non-profit, education and recreational uses. The city believes that repurposing this property for a mix of uses including non-profit office space, recreation and educational space, will accelerate the revitalization of Downtown Waterbury, enhancing the other investments that are being made in the downtown area, including a significant housing rehabilitation project underway immediately adjacent to this property known as Gaffney Place. Waterbury intends to partner with area non-profits and/or education partners for re-use.

Up to $25,000 for an access and pre-development agreement with the owners of the property known as the Brown Building located at 20/52 East Main Street, to allow the city and the current owner conduct feasibility studies and explore potential zoning changes to maximize the potential for a private developer to add new downtown housing units. The large, centrally-located Brown Building is an attractive site for a mixed use development with retail on the ground floor, and apartments above could help meet projected demand for new housing units through 2018 of over 13,000 units within Waterbury’s primary market area including an estimated 10% (1,300 units) anticipated within Waterbury’s central business district.

The state and city believe that these public infrastructure and strategic development projects will attract significant private investment to Waterbury and, in turn, lead to additional opportunities for economic growth and job creation. The Malloy administration’s investments in Waterbury will also facilitate the development of new downtown housing near public transit hubs, which will attract new residents and encourage smart growth in Waterbury.

Concurrent with the “Waterbury Next” announcement, Governor Malloy announced that work will begin in 2015 on the design of a new signalization system for the Waterbury Branch of the New Haven Line that will enhance safety and pave the way for more trains and improved service. Funding of $6 million to $7 million will be provided by the Connecticut Department of Transportation for the design.

With links to with the soon to be completed CTfastrak, a dedicated bus roadway in central Connecticut, the improvements to the Waterbury Branch will turn Waterbury into a major intermodal transit hub. People will be able to take a bus from Waterbury and connect via CTfastrak with Hartford and the rest of central Connecticut, and CTfastrak will connect Hartford to MetroNorth via the Waterbury Branch.

The Waterbury Branch is the only portion of the Metro-North service that does not have a signal system. That, combined with the fact that much of the branch only has one track, prevents any more trains from being operated on the line. The signal system design will also incorporate new passing sidings, allowing for north- and southbound trains to safely pass each other. The number of new sidings and other improvements will be determined during the design process. Once signalization is completed, it is expected that additional peak, off peak, and reverse direction trains will be able to operate on the branch.

Last month, Governor Malloy held a bill signing ceremony in Waterbury for legislation that implements a series of improvements to the state’s brownfield programs. The new law, passed during the General Assembly’s 2014 session, is focused on making the process of remediating and returning brownfields to productive use easier and more efficient for municipalities and private developers.

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Park & Recreation Improvements

River-Baldwin Park: Construction substantially complete on new basketball courts. Project completion expected in Fall 2015.

Chase Park: New playscape, splash pad, site amenities; construction underway in Summer 2015.

Waterville Park: New playscape, splash pad, site amenities; construction underway in Summer 2015.

Rivera-Hughes Park: Various improvements under construction are expected to reach completion in Fall 2015; new bathrooms were recently delivered and installed.

MLK Park, Hamilton Park, Hopeville Park: New restrooms at all three parks. Anticipated that contracts will be awarded in Summer 2015 with construction to follow.

Fulton Park: Warming hut renovation; Greenhouse shed to be demolished; Demolition anticipated for late Summer/Fall 2015.

Lakewood Park: New double handball court; new benches under gazebo in Summer/Fall 2015.

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Blight & Revitalization

Blight Task Force

Mayor O’Leary formed the Blight Task Force in 2012. It works out of the Police Department and is staffed by two police officers and a representative from the Waterbury Development Corp. It also has liaisons with Corporation Counsel, the Fire Marshal, Public Works, Community Relations, Building, Health, Zoning and the Mayor’s Office. Since its formation, the Blight Task Force had cleared more than 18,000 complaint from residents of littering, abandoned or rundown properties and the like. The Blight Task Force has also overseen the demolition of 40 properties.

Neighborhood revitalization

The O’Leary Administration has embraced the task of revitalizing certain Waterbury neighborhoods, partnering non-profit organizations and local, state and federal housing officials.

Gaffney Place features five newly remodeled homes in the Historic Hillside neighborhood, developed through a public-private partnership. Liberty Commons is a 33-unit affordable apartment complex recently opened by the nonprofit Loyola Development Corp. Also, Francis Xavier Plaza was opened on Baldwin Street earlier this year. The former St. Francis Xavier School was transformed into a 20-unit permanent supportive housing complex for adults and families experiencing chronic long term or repeated homelessness. It was a joint effort among local, state and federal agencies as well as the Archdiocese of Hartford.

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Brownfields

Mayor O’Leary met with U.S. Senator Christopher Murphy in Waterbury today to discuss Brownfields – abandoned factory sites in need of environmental cleaning. The Mayor and the Senator understand that remediation and redevelopment of these parcels is essential for cities like Waterbury to achieve their full economic potential. In fact, Waterbury remains the state’s leader in Brownfields identification and redevelopment. The City’s successes in Brownfields redevelopment recently gained national recognition by the federal EPA.

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City Infrastructure Improvements

Chase Avenue: The second phase of a state project to widen Chase Avenue began in Spring 2015.

Reed School Area Sidewalks: Construction substantially complete with additional work started in Spring 2015.

Washington Street Sidewalks: Construction anticipated to begin Fall 2015.

Country Club Road: Construction anticipated in Fall 2015 to repair long-standing drainage issue.

North Elm Street/Cherry Avenue Streetscape: Improvements to visible area set to begin Summer 2015

Waterbury Police Department Roof Replacement: Construction to begin Summer 2015.

Naugatuck Valley Community College: Sidewalks to be constructed along Chase Parkway, out to bid in late Summer 2015. New bus shelter already installed.

Silas Bronson Library: Nearly $1 million in renovations to Library’s interior as well as entry plaza. Project still in bid phase.