the present the Gilbert & Bennett Factory Renovation project
is on hold.
Land Development Co. currently owns the old Gilbert & Bennett
wire mill property in Georgetown.
is located in the middle of affluent Fairfield County, Connecticut,
which is the wealthiest state in the United States based on
per capital income. Moreover, Fairfield County includes 9
out of 10 of the wealthiest towns in the state including Darien,
Greenwich, New Canaan, Weston and Westport. The demographic
strength of this market generates some of the highest office
and retail rental rates in the metropolitan New York area.
parties who want to know the historic details of the property
can contact Brent M. Colley at 860-364-7475.
TIGER grant for Georgetown redevelopment project
Written by Susan Wolf Saturday, 20 February 2010
Georgetown redevelopment project did not receive a U.S. Department
of Transportation TIGER grant. The redeveloper had applied
for $28 million to build a parking garage for a planned railroad
station at the site off Route 107.
project calls for a transit-oriented, pedestrian-friendlly
village at the former Gilbert & Bennett wire mill site. It
includes a mixed use of commercial, retail, residential, affordable
and senior housing, and a community theater.
of funding for the train station portion of the project potentially
changes the timing of it but does not deter us from moving
forward with what is a significant project for Georgetown,
Redding, Fairfield County, the State and the U.S.,” said Chris
Lynch, project manager, who expressed disappointment that
no Connecticut project was funded under the TIGER grant program.
TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery)
Discretionary Grant Program was included in the American Recovery
and Reinvestment Act to spur a national competition for transportation
51 projects funded with the $1.5 billion allocated in the
Recovery Act include improvements to roads, bridges, rail,
ports, transit and facilities.
have every confidence in our Congressional delegation’s ability
to get a fair hearing with the U.S. Department of Transportation
and that some Connecticut projects will be funded. Hopefully
ours will be one of them,” said Mr. Lynch.
thanked the state Department of Transportation for its support
to date. “They have been excellent to work with, very supportive
of our project and provided us with significant funding for
the roadway portions of our project to date. We look forward
to continuing to work effectively with them on many aspects
of our development project,” he said.
the garage that goes with the train station did not receive
TIGER funding, there is already $3.5 million from the state
to build the new train platform.
prepares for cuts, Georgetown faces future By Melissa Bruen,
December 30, 2009
the midst of statewide budget cuts, residents of Redding received
some significant news Monday. Gov. M. Jodi Rell announced
$1.3 million for road improvements in the Georgetown section
improvements are part of a larger project to build a new train
platform and 600-car parking garage, along with 400 residential
apartment units and about 300,000 square feet of commercial
and retail space on the former Gilbert & Bennett wire mill
has been under discussion with the state of Connecticut for
several years, and I am very grateful to the governor for
bringing it to a successful conclusion," First Selectman Natalie
Ketcham said Tuesday.
will be a wonderful catalyst for progress in the redevelopment
of the site."
about the project, which will stimulate the local economy,
bring jobs and allow more people to travel to other parts
of the state and region, began about eight years ago.
a statement, Rell said she anticipates the $1.3 million will
be approved when the State Bond Commission meets Jan. 8. She
estimates the project could result in up to 1,450 new permanent
begins the job creation with employees in the construction
industry, and that will become permanent as places of businesses
are able to open and employ people," Ketcham said.
said the project has received much support from the state,
especially the Department of Economic and Community Development,
"because they are aware of the enormous regional significance
and job creation and economic development that it will create."
said a wastewater treatment plant is operating on the site
that will ultimately handle both the new development and the
of the old mill's non-historic structures have been removed,
providing a clear view of the Norwalk River and waterfall
on the property. The historic buildings on the site will be
and redeveloping these contaminated and often long-abandoned
parcels is one of the most responsible things we can do as
a state," Rell said of the 51-acre brownfield.
October 2008, Redding secured $425,000 for the remediation
and removal of contaminated soil at the site. Ketcham said
the money has not made its way to the town yet, but she expects
it to come shortly.
Key to Georgetown Wire Mill Project-
Written by Peter Healy Tuesday, 1 December 2009
tangible work might begin next year on the long-awaited Georgetown
Redevelopment Project. An official with Syosset, N.Y.-based
LiRo Group, the managing partner in the 60-acre former wire
mill property, said the activity will include a realignment
of access roads to the area.
focusing on the off-site work," said Chris Lynch, a project
manager who works at LiRo Engineering and Construction Management
hoping it will be just enough to get things going. We don't
want the traffic flow to have a negative impact on the town.
"We hope to start in the spring of 2010," Lynch said. "We're
doing a bid package to go out in mid-winter."
timetable for building the project's housing units and commercial
and industrial structures, however, is nebulous. Lynch added
that no construction financing is yet in place.
$350 million project has garnered numerous rounds of public
funding, including $72 million in tax-exempt bonds. One such
public funding source is crucial.
of a railroad station and adjacent 570-space parking facility
on the Georgetown property depends on a $28 million grant
from the Connecticut Department of Transportation, according
to Georgetown Redevelopment Corp.'s grant proposal. Georgetown
Redevelopment acquired the former Gilbert & Bennett Wire
Mill property in 2002.
the developer can get the $28 million Transportation Income
Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER, grant, work on the
train station would start next spring and finish in 2011,
the grant proposal states.
Redevelopment said in the proposal that a mix of public and
private sources will provide the rest of the money for a $43
million train station at the southern tip of the project,
which includes land in the towns of Redding and Wilton.
on finances, the remainder of the project would be built over
master plan includes as many as 416 housing units, which would
include single-family homes, townhouses, loft-style condominiums,
market-rate and affordable apartments.
commercial component would include as many as 140,000 square
feet of storefront space to accommodate regional retailers
and restaurants; as many as 130,000 square feet of office
space, and about 30,000 square feet of industrial space, of
which the National Park Service would occupy half for its
Weir Farm National Historic Site office. A 20,000-square-foot
performing arts center also is planned for the project, which
is expected to create 1,500 permanent jobs and about 600 construction
without further funding, the property could remain an abandoned
wire mill a little longer.
Perna, economic adviser to Waterbury-based Webster Financial
Corp., parent of Webster Bank, said he was pessimistic about
prospects for financial backing during the recession.
was a very promising development," said Perna, an economist
and resident of Ridgefield. "It was being heralded throughout
the state. The key question is can they get the financing?
The last thing anyone is thinking about doing now is commercial
said he would like to see the project succeed. "It's a neat
area. I live near there," he said.
Murphy, a senior fellow with Washington, D.C.-based Urban
Land Institute, said many private developers nationwide are
having trouble getting private financing.
much harder to fund a project like this, but there are still
deals like this happening," he said.
said banks that used to lend 70 percent to 80 percent of the
total cost of a construction project now are lending 50 percent
to 60 percent -- if a developer is fortunate enough to get
are hard to obtain because the value of current real estate
projects are a lot lower than they were when first planned,
challenge is, how do you fill that gap (in value)?" he added.
Georgetown project has a favorable chance to succeed because
it would contain the kind of housing that workers who commute
to financial hubs in New York City and Stamford need, said
Fred Carstensen, professor of economics at the University
of Connecticut in Storrs and a former adviser to the Georgetown
is a well-conceived live-work environment," said Carstensen,
who also is director of the Connecticut Center for Economic
Analysis at UConn. "It is quite viable, but it's going to
take some time for it to come to fruition."
Some agreement, some concerns over GLDC and elderly tax benefit
Written by Rachel Kirkpatrick Monday, 22 October 2009
the Republican candidates offered similar views to the Democratic
candidates on the status of the fund balance and the town’s
fiscal health in prior questions, they took slightly different
stances on other issues, like the Georgetown redevelopment
project and open space purchases.
far as the Georgetown project, unaffiliated candidate Steve
Martin said he is “neutral” on the issue.
like to see a beautiful village down there... but I’m not
convinced it’s a place that’s going to be a win-win for Redding
because we don’t know who will move into those apartments,”
are families who “coach” other parents to bring their special
needs children to Redding, he said, “because we don’t fight
them, we pay for them.” In some cases, these children can
cost the town $100,000 or more. “I’m not saying we shouldn’t
help people who are disadvantaged, I’m just saying we don’t
know as a Board of Finance what families will move in,” he
said before his time ran out.
in support of the project and in recognition the project has
been hit by many factors, Republican candidate Rand Guffey
said he thinks the problem lies in the fact it is a “private
project with public encouragement.”
described Georgetown Land Development Company, redevelopers
of the former Gilbert & Bennett wire mill site, as having
a “rotation of players” on the private investment side.
needs to be one, large stable investor who will commit to
completing the project, Mr. Guffey said. Turning to the large
commercial component of the project, Republican candidate
Ward Mazzucco said he is in favor of it and said it “should
be a revenue-positive project overall.”
only will the town benefit from the taxes, but also revenues
related to permit and conveyance fees, he said. Also, he said,
the town has to be “mindful” of the possibilities under the
state’s affordable housing appeals law, which allows developers
to override local zoning laws.
incumbent on us to do everything we can to make this project
happen,” he said.
Republican candidate Frank DeSalvo, the project’s state is
not “as dreary” as others make it out to be. While the company
has gone through a change in management, he said the same
been a natural time for transitions,” he said. And after facing
numerous delays at the state level and due to the economy,
intersection work is expected to begin in the spring, he said.
The site is also protected, he said, by the master plan approved
by the town.
wish it doesn’t happen is not a good wish,” he said.
project was one issue Democratic candidate Peter Bonfanti
agreed with the Republican candidates on. He called it “key”
to the financial future of the town.
should do everything we can to move the superb work of [First
Selectman Natalie Ketcham] forward,” he said.
Selectman Natalie Ketcham gives an overview of G&B Project-
Written by Rachel Kirkpatrick Monday, 12 October 2009
stimulus funding, Super 7 and cigarette receptacles, to Redding’s
Hollywood debut, there have been many developments in the
town over the last year or so.
what is the most important issue right now? “I think it’s
the Georgetown project,” said First Selectman Natalie Ketcham
in her State of the Town address to the Redding League of
Women Voters last week.
Ketcham described the recent changes in management for the
Georgetown Land Development Company (GLDC), redevelopers of
the former Gilbert & Bennett wire mill site. While GLDC president
Steve Soler is still involved in the project, Rocco Trotta
of The LiRo group construction management company has stepped
to the forefront for the project’s next phase.
is still in “constant contact” with GLDC, which Ms. Ketcham
called “a good sign they are continuing to value the town’s
point of view.”
asked later what has motivated Mr. Trotta and his firm to
be a part of the project, Ms. Ketcham said he is “very much
taken with the dream of Georgetown.”
a love. He very much thinks this is the way areas should be
redeveloped, and, if he does it right, what better project
to have his name associated with?” Ms. Ketcham asked.
a year ago, the Georgetown Special Taxing District was preparing
to go out to bid for intersection improvements the developer
by state law must make to handle additional traffic generated
by the completed project.
state requires developers to commit to this work, Ms. Ketcham
said, because it doesn’t want a developer to build and leave
these improvements on the state’s tab. “That was the day after
Lehman Brothers failed,” she said.
district was advised to wait until December to go out to bid,
but it became aware, Ms. Ketcham said, the company was in
realized if we were going to get this project going, we needed
to get involved,” she said. “I thought this project was the
‘poster child’ for stimulus funds.” She was able to secure
regional transportation funding by arguing the funds would
not just benefit the Gilbert & Bennett project, but also the
Main Street Georgetown streetscape project.
of the major constraints in economically developing that area
is parking,” Ms. Ketcham said. “It’s something street merchants
have been wrestling with for years.”
an additional resolution to that problem, however, Ms. Ketcham
negotiated for use of the parking area in the Professional
Building complex across Route 107. “But what we need are intersections
there, and the state said we’d qualify because it’s a safety
Ketcham said. “Now it has a dual benefit and a clear benefit.”
The town is going to go out to bid for construction management
services, she said. “Now there is renewed interest in the
project and there may be some good news by the end of the
year,” she said.
& Bennett redevelopment enters 'new phase'
Written by Rachel Kirkpatrick - September 28, 2009
Lynch, the new representative of Georgetown Land Development
Company (GLDC), explained his position in the Gilbert & Bennett
wire mill redevelopment project, as well as plans for funding,
to the Board of Selectmen Monday night.
Lynch is a project manager for Rocco Trotto, head principal
of The LiRo Group, a construction management company that
is taking on a new role in the Georgetown redevelopment project
as it enters a “new phase” — going vertical.
as a “change in the management structure” of GLDC, Mr. Lynch
said he will represent all members of GLDC, specifically Mr.
Trotta. Stephen Soler is remaining as GLDC president.
is the latest development in the Georgetown redevelopment
project, which has been delayed by required state approvals
and most recently by the economy. The mixed use, commercial
and residential transit-oriented project is governed by a
master plan approved by the town’s Zoning Commission.
Trotto has always been a principal of GLDC, “since the beginning,”
Mr. Lynch said. The LiRo Group, he said, has represented many
large New York City projects and clients such as Ground Zero,
Yankee Stadium, bridges, the city school system, the New York
City Fire Department and the City of Bridgeport, among them.
Applies for $28 Million for Redding Project
Written by Melissa Bruen- September 26, 2009
the application The DOT is applying for: $28 million for construction
of new platform station and 570-vehicle parking garage.
state Department of Transportation has applied for $329 million
in federal stimulus funds to help pay for state transportation
projects, including $28 million earmarked for Redding.
money would finance construction of a new platform and a 570-vehicle
parking garage for commuters in the Georgetown, which is served
by the Danbury branch of New Haven Railroad, Gov. M. Jodi
Rell announced Thursday.
has actively and aggressively sought every Recovery Act funding
opportunity available to strength our economy, move forward
strategic initiatives and, most importantly, put people back
to work," Rell said.
new platform will be located near routes 107 and 57, where
Georgetown Land Development Co. is building on a vacant brownfield.
The state has committed more than $7 million to support demolition,
remediation and removal of contaminated soil on the site.
company plans to build 416 units of housing, commercial, retail
and office space and a performing arts center, according to
called the project "responsible growth at its best."
Housatonic and Naugatuck railroad companies also will receive
funding if the application is approved by the Transportation
Investment Generating Economic Recovery program.
the application The DOT is applying for:
- $28 million
for construction of new platform station and 570-vehicle
- $50 million
for construction of I-95 and I-91 Route 34 interchange at
the Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge project in New Haven.
- $37 million
for the reconstruction of Moses Wheeler Bridge, where I-95
crosses the Housatonic River between Stratford and Milford.
- $21.3 million
for Stamford's "Complete Streets and Transit Access" project.
- $109 million
for freight rail projects for Housatonic Railroad, Naugatuck
Railroad, Valley Railroad, Connecticut Southern Railroad
and New England Central Railroad (two projects), Providence
& Worcester Railroad and Branford Steam Railroad For information,
visit www.ct.gov and click on the CT Recovery link.
intersection improvements: State commits funding
Written by Susan Wolf- September 6, 2009
state has committed up to $1.7 million for two intersection
improvements in Georgetown. These improvements will not only
benefit the Georgetown Streetscape project, but also the Gilbert
& Bennett Redevelopment project off Route 107.
First Selectman Natalie Ketcham recently met with state officials
to discuss the improvements to the intersections of Routes
107 and 57 and Route 107 and North Main Street.
town of Redding will be responsible for the project, Ms. Ketcham
said. “These funds were approved for safety improvements and
to move forward with the Streetscape project and safe pedestrian
access at the Georgetown Post Office site and across Route
107 to North Main Street,” Ms. Ketcham said.
Streetscape project, planned by Redding town officials and
Georgetown Village Restoration Inc., calls for the enhancement
of the Main Street business district and Old Mill Road. Among
the proposed improvements are sidewalks, streetlights and
part of the funding process, said Ms. Ketcham, a public information
meeting is required so residents understand the intersection
improvements that have already been approved by the State
Traffic Commission as well as the funding itself.
hope to have a meeting by late September,” Ms. Ketcham said.
“Everyone’s goal is to get through this process in time for
fall construction,” she added, “but that depends on the whether
the area from Route 57 to North Main Street is in a federal
flood plain. We don’t think so, but we have to confirm it.”
town also has to confirm with Connecticut Light & Power Company
that it is set to go in terms of the work it needs to do,
she said. The town has requested signal pre-emption at the
intersections. This is a device on the traffic lights that
would allow the volunteer fire departments to control them
in case of an emergency.
has also requested medians at the intersections to provide
traffic calming. The plans for the intersection work are 90%
complete, Ms. Ketcham said. GLDC began the process for State
Traffic Commission approval for the intersection work about
two years ago.
was going to assume the bonds for the work. When the economy
declined, so did the opportunity for the bonding. Ms. Ketcham
said through the state funding mechanism for the Streetscape
project, she was able “to gather the funding to make this
[the improvements] happen, and at no cost to taxpayers.”
project is expected to take one construction season. .
G&B redevelopment: State OK boosts project Written by Susan
Wolf- August 6, 2009
Land Development Co. got good news this week — it has the
money it needs for two intersection improvements and approval
from the State Traffic Commission (STC) for a phasing-in plan
crucial to the redevelopment project.
Selectman Natalie Ketcham said that at Monday’s STC meeting,
the commission agreed to the phasing-in plan.
first phase is two intersection improvements, at North Main
Street and Route 107 and at North Main Street and Route 57.
These improvements are projected to cost some $1.5 million.
Since the company has funding for this work, the commission
is not requiring it to post a bond for this phase.
Housatonic Valley Council of Elected Officials, of which Redding
is a member, has agreed to provide funding for up to $1.6
million for these two intersection improvements.
Council of Governments in Bridgeport said it had money available
to loan to the Housatonic Valley Council of Elected Officials,
Ms. Ketcham said.
the state Department of Transportation has to approve projects
using this money, it looked at multiple planning regions in
the state and determined $1.6 million could be found and used
for the work. Each year, planning regions in the state get
federal highway dollars. If a region has no project that is
eligible for the dollars, it “lends” its money to another
region that does. Eventually, the borrower pays back the money
through its federal funding in future years. The council’s
money will come to the town, said Ms. Ketcham, since it cannot
go directly to a private developer. The town would then pass
the money along for the intersection work.
are relying on these improvements for safe pedestrian access
to the Main Street and Old Mill Road business district,” Ms.
traffic signals and crosswalks are important to our [Georgetown]
enhancement plan, so we want to help implement them as soon
the phasing-in plan accepted by the STC, said Stephen Soler,
Georgetown Land Development Co. president, his company can
now pull building permits for Phase A of its project plan.
Once these are approved, the buildings can be sold to third
parties, providing much-needed cash for the development company,
Mr. Soler said last week.
G&B projects taking shape, but state action needed Written
by Susan Wolf- July 31, 2009
us to move forward on these parcels,” Mr. Soler said,” we
need to get State Traffic Commission (STC) issues resolved.”
commission has a request from GLDC to accept a phasing-in
plan of its required intersection improvements to allow the
company to develop portions of its property now. This essentially
reduces the considerable bond amount the STC is requiring
of the company for all of the improvements.
company has asked that it be allowed to improve the intersections
of North Main Street with Route 107 and North Main Street
and Route 57 now. These improvements would cost some $1.5
million. The company has also asked for the delay of improvements
to the intersection of Routes 7 and 107 to a later date.
improvement planned at Route 7 and North Main Street near
Bruce Bennett Nissan would take place once the company is
reimbursed by the state for the improvements it made to the
railroad crossing near this intersection. The reimbursement
would provide the money for this work.
State Approvals, Soler Would Need Site Plan Approvals:
company is now seeking subdivision and site plan approvals
for three parcels on the property. The Zoning Commission has
jurisdiction over site plan approvals; the Planning Commission
over subdivision approvals. No Conservation Commission approvals
are required — this commission has already indicated there
is nothing in the proposal that affects wetlands or watercourses
or any licenses the company has from it on the property.
the requests are approved, it will allow the company to convey
the parcels to third parties to develop, “so it generates
much-needed cash for the development company,” said Stephen
Soler, Georgetown Land Development Co. (GLDC) president. He
later said that as the buildings are phased in, so would the
infrastructure for the site.
still needed for Gilbert & Bennett project Written by Rachel
Tina Miller asked for an update on the Georgetown redevelopment
project at the board’s meeting Monday night, and while there
was a meeting of the Georgetown Special Taxing District set
for this week, First Selectman Natalie Ketcham said she has
not heard anything.
Ketcham said she has been working with the town’s regional
planning agency, the Housatonic Valley Council of Elected
Officials (HVCEO), to come up with funding for intersection
improvements to Route 107.
Land Development Company (GLDC), redeveloper of the former
Gilbert & Bennett wire mill site, is required by the state
to make these off-site improvements before construction on-site
a letter, the state Department of Transportation (DOT), she
said, approved the release of stimulus funds from HVCEO for
think they’ll be able to cover 90% of the cost,” Ms. Ketcham
phasing plan for the off-site work was submitted, but has
not yet been formally approved. This was supposed to be on
the state Traffic Commission’s agenda this week, Ms. Ketcham
said, but it appears it is not.
said she has made calls to push the commission to include
GLDC on the agenda.
is much conversation among residents about what Plan B is,”
Ms. Miller said.
may be a time that will come where we’ll be talking about
it, and it would be good to say, ‘Yes, we need a Plan B.’”
office, I always hope for the best and plan for the worst,
and this is no exception,” Ms. Ketcham said.
York Times: 7 Years In, Renewal Plan Languishes, June 19,
by Lisa Prevost
seven years’ work on a redevelopment plan that attracted enthusiastic
support from residents of this affluent town, the developer,
Stephen Soler, is so depleted by state bureaucratic delays
that he is ready to walk away.
have been looking for a buyer to take the whole thing — let’s
leave it at that,” said Mr. Soler, the principal of the Georgetown
Land Development Company.
has been an extremely, extremely expensive exercise.”
Soler’s $300 million plan to build a transit-oriented village
on the site of the Gilbert & Bennett wire mill had promised
to fill the hole left in Redding’s commercial tax base after
the factory shut down in 1989. In a corner of Redding known
as Georgetown, the factory was the only industrial development
in a town characterized by two-acre zoning and a great deal
of open space.
Mr. Soler has proceeded with some demolition, environmental
cleanup and a new wastewater treatment facility, most of his
vision exists only on paper. The fault lies primarily with
the state, he says, for delaying him right into a recession.
the credit markets so tight, “the biggest problem now is the
ability to get financing to do the infrastructure,” he said.
delays also figured in the loss of a $50 million contract
with TCR Northeast Land Acquisition for the housing development
rights to the project. TCR, an affiliate of Trammell Crow
Residential of Dallas, had agreed to buy six parcels intended
for town houses and lofts, once all necessary permits and
approvals were in place. It terminated that agreement in July.
S. Torg Jr., a senior managing director for TCR’s northeast
office, ascribed the decision to several factors, including
the near-collapse last year of A.I.G., the international insurance
company, which had been TCR’s equity source in the deal. Mr.
Torg said that it was also unclear when Georgetown Land was
“going to be able to get its permits and its approvals.”
added, “We and A.I.G. just decided not to keep going.” TCR
is now suing Georgetown Land for the return of its $1.5 million
deposit, and is pursuing foreclosure on a small parcel mortgaged
on the site as collateral.
mill project’s reduced circumstances are a deep disappointment
to Redding officials, who have been supportive of Mr. Soler’s
efforts since he acquired the property in 2002. They worked
with him to secure legislative approval to set up a special
taxing district exclusive to the site, with its own authority
to float bonds to pay for infrastructure improvements. His
company had also gained favor with development-wary residents
by seeking input from them at brainstorming sessions led by
Andrés Duany, a principal in Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company
of Miami, which specializes in new-community design.
Soler has crossed a very large number of hurdles and has met
every condition that the town had set when it first worked
with him to acquire the property,” said Robert B. Dean, the
vice chairman of Redding’s planning commission.
Soler’s relationship with the state, however, has been contentious.
he can begin building, he must obtain approval from the State
Traffic Commission, which requires that large projects come
up with a mutually acceptable plan for remedying impacts on
plan was approved in 2006, but the panel hasn’t issued the
certificate he needs to proceed.
reason, said Kevin Nursick, a spokesman for the Department
of Transportation, is that the developer has yet to post the
$10 million bond required by the state to ensure that the
work is done.
panel agreed to break the bond requirement into portions,
Mr. Nursick said. But Mr. Soler has said since last year that,
given credit market conditions, his company can no longer
issue bonds at a reasonable rate.
Soler had always planned to sell the development rights to
the property after the infrastructure was in place. If he
sells it before then, Redding officials worry that the site
may attract a more conventional and less community-friendly
are especially worried that a developer may use the state’s
affordable-housing appeals law to circumvent local zoning
and fill the entire site with high-density housing.
law grants developers higher-density allowances if they reserve
a certain portion of the housing for low- to moderate-income
residents, and makes the rejection of such projects more difficult
for towns in which less than 10 percent of the housing units
qualify as affordable.
is “a sitting duck” in that regard, Mr. Dean said, as it has
no affordable housing at all.
mill project does include 40 units of affordable housing,
as well as lower-priced artists’ lofts. But what Mr. Dean
fears is a “gigantic housing-dominated project” that does
not enhance Georgetown’s small commercial center and “becomes
a drain rather than a help.”
are aggressively working with Mr. Soler to secure public financing
for the infrastructure improvements that would support the
existing plan and perhaps entice investors.
The waste water treatment plant in place is sized for between
800-1000 residents. If the project fails, the town will face
long term planning issues and the costs associated with the
water treatment facility. BMC Note]
recently agreed to a $3.5 million loan through the Tax Increment
Financing program sponsored by the Connecticut Development
Authority to help pay for improvements to North Main Street,
the mill complex’s main route. The loan would be repaid through
the anticipated increase in tax revenues after the project
town’s first selectwoman, Natalie Ketcham, said officials
were also pursuing several options to cover the cost of improvements
to Route 107, and had secured a commitment from the state
to pay for the new train station. For now, she said, “I am
optimistic that we can pull together the necessary funds to
get the project moving.”
and senior housing project at G&B site is on track
Written by Rachel Kirkpatrick, June 15, 2009
the economy has stalled the overall project considerably,
there is good news regarding the affordable and senior housing
plan for the Gilbert & Bennett redevelopment project in Georgetown.
a presentation to the Commission on Aging last Wednesday,
Stephen Soler, Georgetown Land Development Company president,
developer of the former wire mill site, explained how certain
grants and tax credits should help move this particular piece
of the project along.
made a commitment to build affordable housing with a specific
senior component here, and this is the first project on this
site that is at a detailed stage,” Mr. Soler told the group.
example, a one-bedroom unit in this area, he said, could go
for $1,200 to $1,500 per month at “market rate.” The units
in this particular project will run closer to $650 to $750
per month, he said.
will range in size from 627 square feet to 1,500 square feet,
and each will be unique in shape, offering a different feel
than a typical “institution-style” layout, Mr. Soler said.
Originally, these units were to be split throughout the site,
but now they are included in one building.
won’t be cookie-cutter units,” Mr. Soler said.
affordable housing project has, so far, received a $2-million
grant from the state Department of Economic and Commercial
Development. Now, the company is waiting to see if it will
be allocated a tax credit for the building, Mr. Soler said.
so, the project will move to a construction-drawing phase,
which is expected to take about six months. After that, a
builder will be secured. The earliest anyone will see activity
on the site pertaining to this building could be March 2010,
Mr. Soler said. Read
to fund train station for Gilbert & Bennett project
By Sue Wolf, Redding Pilot, May 1, 2009
those meetings with state officials about money for the Georgetown
redevelopment project are paying off. The state has “committed
in writing” that it will fund the train station at the site,
according to First Selectman Natalie Ketcham.
Ketcham said on Monday that there is a commitment of $3.5
million for the station, which will come from the state’s
own money since the state will own the station. The state
did not commit to any money for the parking garage that goes
with it. Neither has the state come up with any federal stimulus
money for the project. Read
project: waiting for the state to stop playing games
By Marc Ferris, Fairfield County Weekly, April 21, 2009
federal stimulus program promised a raft of jobs, but one
local developer is fuming over his inability to access the
funds. Stephen Soler says he would be able to create 800 construction
jobs if he can jumpstart his proposed $300 million transformation
of a former industrial site in Georgetown into an envoronmentally
friendly mixed-use site. (See "Arrested Redevelopment," Fairfield
County Weekly, Dec. 25, 2008)
cites the economy and a byzantine state bureaucracy for grinding
the project to a halt, after the Town of Redding approved
it in 2004. He figures that he's eligible for around $6 million
of stimulus funds to help complete North Main Street, which
would serve as a pipeline for infrastructure into the site.
It is expected to cost up to $15 million and would would allow
the project to "go vertical," says Soler.
waiting for the state to stop playing games," he says. "We
submit paperwork and they keep putting up new hurdles.
frustrating and I'm not the only local concern with local
projects going through the same experience."
federal stimulus funds are essential because lenders are wary
of getting involved with sites that were once contaminated:
"That money is the only thing out there."
project: Is stimulus money on horizon?
Written by Susan Wolf Thursday, April 2, 2009
Gilbert & Bennett redevelopment project did not receive any
federal economic stimulus money through one of the four categories
of funding. But a meeting last week with state officials was
aimed at getting money, whether state or federal, for the
Connecticut Recovery Working Group, which includes Joseph
Marie, state Department of Transportation commissioner, recently
allocated the state’s $137 million in stimulus money for the
transit and transportation category. The money was primarily
allocated to replace public buses with hybrid buses, and for
a bus repair facility.
Soler, president of Georgetown Land Development Company, the
redeveloper of the former Gilbert & Bennett wire mill site,
had hoped to get some of this money for his project.
was clearly disappointed by what the DOT has done,” he said,
adding the decision did not seem to fit the requirements listed
by Lawrence Summers, an economist who heads the White House’s
National Economic Council.
Soler also said buses won’t create jobs in Connecticut.
are plenty of [other] things that could be economic drivers,”
he said, adding the buses “make no sense.”
project is shovel ready, Mr. Soler said, and would create
upwards of 350 infrastructure jobs that would lead to 500
construction jobs once the roads and infrastructure are in
the project is done, he said, the University of Connecticut’s
Center for Economic Analysis projects it would bring 1,500
new jobs into the region.
is roughly the number who worked here daily when the company
[Gilbert & Bennett Manufacturing] was going strong,” Mr. Soler
funds could replace tax plan for GLDC Written by Susan Wolf
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Gilbert & Bennett redevelopment project may get a boost from
President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus plan. If money
for road work at the site is approved, it would negate the
need for the town to participate in tax increment financing
(TIF) for the project.
Soler, president of Georgetown Land Development Company, the
redeveloper of the former wire mill site, attended Monday’s
finance board meeting. Mr. Soler said his company applied
for stimulus funds last December, before it was notified about
the state’s approval of $3.5 million in tax increment financing
for his project.
are four “buckets” of funding. The four buckets are highways
and bridges, transit, fixed guideway, which includes train
stations, and water-related improvements including flood walls.
Each item eligible for stimulus funding has to be “costed
out,” he said, so his company broke out separate projects
in the different funding categories. There are separate costs
for the bridges on the property, the road work, the train
station and the commuter parking lot. In addition, there is
a separate cost for pump stations, flood walls and related
improvements. If stimulus money is approved for the work on
North Main Street, a road within the project, then the TIF
money won’t be needed, said Mr. Soler. Read
29, 2009: State Aproves Tax Plan Application by Gilbert &
Bennett Project Written by Rachel Kirkpatrick
state is throwing its support behind the Gilbert & Bennett
redevelopment project in Georgetown, announcing this week
that $3.5 million in tax increment financing has been approved.
This is the first step in a process for which the town, state
and Georgetown Land Development Company have partnered.
state’s announcement means the application for the funding
was approved by the Connecticut Development Authority board,
which met earlier this month. Negotiations between the town,
state and Georgetown Land Development (GLDC) still need to
town meeting authorized the town to enter into negotiations
with the state and GLDC, with the caveat that conditions are
met before any agreement is signed.
GLDC cannot satisfy those requirements, then the town will
not sign the agreement and the tax plan will not happen,”
Mr. Alvarez said.
conditions include that the redevelopment company meet all
requirements set forth by the state development authority
or its subsidiaries, that GLDC provide documentation of the
financing needed to complete remediation on the North Main
Street roadway infrastructure improvements leading to the
new train station, and to the full commercial phase of the
project, and to authorize First Selectman Natalie Ketcham
to do any legal due diligence required to accomplish these
8, 2009: Focus turns to federal funds for Georgetown streetscape
Written by Rachel Kirkpatrick
on the results of surveys circulated to property owners in
the area, the firm behind the Georgetown streetscape project
has returned with a revised design. “I think we want to take
a step back and start fresh,” said Brad Parsons of BL Companies
of Meriden, project manager for the streetscape project. He
spoke of creating a “pedestrian-friendly environment” while
“maintaining the existing road width as much as possible.”
$1.2-million streetscape project master plan is being made
possible through a state STEAP grant of $500,000 and a federal
SAFETEA grant of $622,200. The first grant was awarded in
2001, the second in 2006. To make good use of what is now
available in construction dollars, and in an attempt to secure
more funding for the entire master plan, Mr. Parsons said
Monday he will work on phasing out the master plan further.
will report back to the group on Wednesday, Jan. 21, at the
Bible Church at 12:15PM. He said he will work with the town
and the state Department of Transportation (DOT) to try to
expedite the state approval process.
Soler, president of Georgetown Land Development Co., which
is redeveloping the Gilbert & Bennett wire mill site, said
the town may be able to secure some federal money for the
project through a second round of the proposed economic stimulus
do need something to start with,” he said. “You need the [DOT’s]
buy-in. Getting them here to see the plan will make a difference.”
Soler went on to say that Georgetown is one of five locations
the state DOT wants to focus on. “It’s a priority,” he said.
“They’re looking at places where they can stick a flag and
write ‘success." Read
7, 2009: Redding approves GLDC tax plan
By Susan Tuz
a special town meeting, residents voted 101-31 to enter an
agreement with the state and GLDC that will allow the development
company to receive $3.5 million from the Connecticut Development
Authority to build roads at the site.
the plan, Redding will receive no increased property taxes
from the site as commercial property is developed there, until
the state loan is paid back.
town will continue getting the $102,000 in tax revenue it
now receives from GLDC commercial property. GLDC will pay
the state for any additional taxes that become due.
plan is called tax increment financing. The benefit for the
town is an "improvement in quality of life and eventual increased
tax revenues," First Selectman Natalie Ketcham said.
was a standing-room-only crowd at the town meeting Tuesday,"
Ketcham said, "and the agreement was overwhelmingly approved.
I am very proud that the residents of Redding stepped up to
the plate and approved investing tax dollars into the project
at this time. It's very important that this project begins
is developing the old wire mill site into a village center,
with housing, commercial space and a train station. The town
assessor has projected the eventual taxes paid to the town
will be about $5.25 million a year.
are pleased with the result of the town meeting last night,"
said Steve Soler, president of GLDC. "This positive vote allows
us to apply to the Connecticut Development Authority for the
tax increment financing."
CDA loan will be specifically for brownfield remediation where
roads will be built. North Main Street in Georgetown qualifies
for remediation under Connecticut Department of Environmental
requirements, Soler said.
from the tax increment financing will be specifically used
for remediation of North Main Street at the wire mill site.
Susan Tuz at email@example.com or (203) 731-3352
Pilot Coverage of Tax Meeting
Written by Rachel Kirkpatrick :
132 people attended the town meeting Tuesday night amidst
freezing rain and the threat of more ice throughout the evening.
Of the 132 who attended, 101 voted in favor of the proposal,
with 31 voting against. Probate Judge Richard Emerson was
elected the meeting’s moderator at the packed community room
at the Redding Community Center on Lonetown Road. .
vote authorizes the Boards of Selectmen and Finance to “ascertain
compliance” with several conditions before entering into any
agreements with the state agency or GLDC for tax incremental
conditions include that the redevelopment company meet all
requirements set forth by the state development authority
or its subsidiaries, that GLDC provide documentation of the
financing needed to complete remediation on the North Main
Street roadway infrastructure improvements leading to the
new train station, and the full commercial phase of the project,
and to authorize First Selectman Natalie Ketcham to do any
legal due diligence required to accomplish these conditions.
Comments ranged from whether GLDC has provided evidence it
can’t get a loan in this market, to if the motion even makes
sense — all leading back to questions about how tax incremental
for the interest rate in this loan, Mr. Alvarez said it would
most likely range between 5% and 6%, but, he added, the town
won’t know specifically until the agreement is negotiated.
The town may accelerate payments, he said.
that the state development authority has loan programs aside
from tax incremental financing, Mr. Alvarez said GLDC has
already applied for those loans to make up for a shortfall
from the investment banks failing.
his presentation, Mr. Alvarez told the public that the proposal
is “not a bailout, rather an investment.” The proposal, he
said, “is so the town can benefit from increased tax revenue.”
Kopfstein, Commission on Aging chairman, said her group strongly
supports the tax proposal. She said the project will “improve
the quality of life for seniors” in Redding. The finance board
also has a unique opportunity to guarantee the responsible
growth of the area, she added. .
7, 2009: Gilbert & Bennett site plan: Developer proposes certain
‘tweaks’ Written by Brian Gioiele
Land Development Co. (GLDC) officials have taken another step
toward submitting a full site plan in the coming months. The
Zoning Commission last Wednesday approved the company’s amendments
to its master plan site plan, changes GLDC representatives
call simply tweaks to plans for the redevelopment of the former
Gilbert & Bennett property.
is conceptual, rather than detailed,” said attorney Richard
Gibbons, representing GLDC and the taxing district covering
the old wire mill location. “There are no changes to the densities,
no changes to the number of housing units. We’re just rearranging
the furniture here.”
proposal called for reconfiguration of the affordable housing
and performing arts building, as well as design modifications
to the intersection of Bennett and Miller streets within the
new development area.
are simply changing the footprints,” said Mr. Gibbons. “This
is not an application to change the master plan special permit.
All the densities, all of the other commitments we’ve made
are all remaining the same.”
change calls for the affordable housing to be relocated into
one building, in the similar location where it was originally
planned. Originally, designers had split the units throughout
the site, but, while working with Jonathan Rose Co. and Crosskey
Architects, the plans have again been adjusted.
still going to have 55 affordable housing units (per state
statute section 8-30g),” said Mr. Gibbons. Forty of these
units are for the elderly. There are also plans to move the
location of the black box theater since the former site was
“deemed to be inadequate,” according to the plans submitted
Gibbons said that GLDC officials are working with the Wire
Mill Theatre Arts Foundation to find an alternate location
within the other existing or new buildings on the site.
application also calls for design modifications at the intersection
of Bennett and Miller streets to better handle traffic flow
and parking more effectively in this area. Mr. Gibbons said
the roadway, which was originally curved, will now be straightened.
The plans state that this change will “enhance the commercial
viability of this section of the development.”
31, 2008: GLDC tax proposal heads to town meeting
by Rachel Kirkpatrick
Tuesday, Jan. 6, the public will have the opportunity to vote
on a tax proposal by Georgetown Land Development Co. that
is supposed to help jump-start work on the former Gilbert
& Bennett wire mill site off Route 107.
public will be voting on whether to approve the town’s participation
in tax increment financing (TIF), which would provide the
Georgetown Land Development Co. (GLDC), owner of the wire
mill site, with a $3.5-million loan from the state to complete
road and infrastructure work. The idea behind the TIF concept
is that increased site value from the work creates more taxable
property and, in turn, increases tax revenues for the town
— revenues the town may gain sooner than if the project stalled
because of lack of funding.
the town’s participation is approved, town officials, the
state and Mr. Soler will work together to determine what future
incremental tax increases would be generated by the completion
of the roadwork. The town would then allow the property owner(s)
to direct a portion of the incremental tax revenues owed on
the commercial entities in the project to the state to help
pay back the loan. The three groups would determine a payment
plan, which usually lasts between 10 and 15 years.
25 , 2008: A shovel-ready project that would turn a brownfield
in Georgetown into an eco-village has been snagged by governmental
bureaucracy and the credit freeze. By Marc Ferris
the heavy equipment is ready to roll for the proposed $300
million redevelopment of the Gilbert & Bennett wire mill complex.
The sweeping plan would transform the 50-acre factory site
into a green village consisting of homes, commercial space
and not-for-profit organizations, all centered on a pond created
by a loud waterfall built to harness the power of Norwalk
River. Refurbished relics from Connecticut's industrial past
would provide an architectural focal point.
project, which features a revamped train station and parking
garage, enjoys wides support from major stakeholders, according
to local officials, and won a National Award for Smart Growth
Achievement from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
— all before any shovels struck the ground. But now that the
project has finally been cleared, the credit freeze threatens
to leave developer Stephen Soler without the money needed
is a pivotal time for the project," he says. "The state dragged
its feet for so long, and just when I'm ready to get started,
they dragged me into the worst finanacial crisis since the
says he's spent $40 million in Georgetown so far. He's razed
about two dozen buildings, keeping those with good bones,
and removed concrete slabs to reveal the river that runs through
move towards completion, he is hoping for money from the Troubled
Assets Relief Program (TARP), part of the $700 billion bailout
bill passed last October. TARP payments have gone to local
banks, says Soler, but the money isn't trickling down. If
he can't raise funds, a new North Main Street and other infrastructure
improvements needed to jumpstart the project will be delayed.
went to [Sen.] Chris Dodd's office and suggested that any
bank getting TARP money should be required — forced — to lend
50 percent of it," says Soler, "but the bill passed without
raise the $3.5 million needed to start work on North Main
Street, Soler seeks to raise capital with help from the Tax
Increment Financing (TIF) program, sponsored by the Connecticut
Brownfields Redevelopment Authority. Under TIF, the state
loans money to a developer that is paid back by the municipality
through anticipated commercial taxes that materialize once
the project is complete, says Cynthia Petruzzello, Brownfield
Authority vice president.
the provisions, the town agrees to forego a portion of the
projected tax revenue to repay the state over a pre-determined
period of time. In return, if all goes well, the town receives
a tax-generating property, says Lee Hoffman, an attorney at
Pullman and Comley, who specializes in brownfield law.
the project remains incomplete, the state can put a lien on
rarely happens," says Hoffman, "because the state vets these
Town of Redding is scheduled to vote on authorizing the TIF
arrangement before the end of the year and will likely hold
a Town Meeting about it in January, said First Selectwoman
TIF, Soler says he would probably eat the carrying costs for
two or three years as the market played its course. He could
ultimately sell the property to another developer, who might
scrap the plan devised with input from local residents.
estimates that his new village will generate around $5.9 million
annually to the town, a third of which will be subject to
the TIF repayment.
also intends to seek a share of the economic stimulus package
that Congress will likely debate when it convenes under the
town could certainly use the commercial tax revenue of the
project, says Ketchem, because outlying areas consist mostly
of properties zoned for two acres and wide swaths of public
watershed land. The small commercial district in Georgetown
is clustered around Main Street, a narrow pathway more suited
to horses than cars. Local business owners have long lobbied
for improvements. with newer buildings, similar to Soler's
site. The hope among local merchants is that the Gilbert &
Bennett development will jumpstart a general revitalization
of this historic crossroads, says Nancy Silverman, owner of
the Georgetown Saloon.
is, if Soler can leap his latest hurdle. "The state approval
and permitting process is absolutely byzantine," he says.
"Most developers of a site like this who were really determined
to build would probably just come up with a plan, sue everyone
and let the courts decide."
24 , 2008: Board sends GLDC tax proposal to town meeting.
By Susan Wolf
finance board has determined that it is “fiscally responsible”
to send a request to a town meeting to approve Tax Increment
Financing (TIF) in the amount of $3.5 million for Georgetown
Land Development Co.
Board of Selectmen has scheduled the Town Meeting for Tuesday,
Jan. 6, at 7:30 p.m. at the Community Center, with a snow
date of Thursday, Jan. 8, at the same time and place.
motion from the finance board’s meeting last Thursday night,
which passed 5 to 1 with member Albert Viscio in opposition,
is considered a recommendation to approve the TIF if certain
conditions are met, said Bill Alvarez, board chairman.
finance board has recommended the selectmen “go ahead with
the TIF,” contingent on Georgetown Land Development Co., the
redeveloper of the former Gilbert & Bennett wire mill site
off Route 107, meeting two specific conditions, he said.
board has done its due diligence, as has the town assessor
with the assessed values and revenue projections, to say there
are sufficient projected incremental taxes to pay for the
TIF, he added. “We’re being as fiscally responsible as we
can be by saying that at the end of the day, if we don’t feel
GLDC has lined up everything, we have the ultimate ability
to say this is not a good deal for the town,” Mr. Alvarez
if the Town Meeting approves the TIF, he said, the town can
walk away if the finance board is not satisfied. Nick Simeonidis
was the only member who said the board’s motion is not a recommendation
for the TIF proposal.
has requested the Tax Increment Financing, a commercial tax
proposal, to help jump-start the infrastructure work at the
site. This proposal is for the commercial property taxes only,
not the residential.
the proposal, the town would always receive the amount of
commercial property taxes ($102,000) now due on GLDC’s property.
However, the town would allow the company to repay the state
with a portion of the taxes owed above this amount. The base
amount would increase as the assessed value of the commercial
property grows because of its development. Any additional
commercial tax increments beyond what is owed to the state
would go to the town. There would be a negotiated schedule
for the payments, and interest would be charged. Should there
not be enough tax revenue from the development to make the
payment, the state would wait to get paid.
last Thursday’s meeting, the finance board’s motion said it
had examined the projections for the incremental tax revenues
to be generated by the buildout of the commercial base for
the GLDC project, and their timing. As a result, the board
confirmed that based on these projections, it would be “financially
responsible” for the town to go to a town meeting to seek
approval to participate in the TIF.
the board added conditions, including that GLDC meet the state
agencies’ requirements for the TIF and that the company provide
all documentary evidence of the financing needed to complete
the remediation work on North Main Street and other roadway
infrastructure improvements leading to the proposed new train
station, as well as the buildout of the commercial phase of
the overall project. The motion noted the Planning Commission’s
conclusion that “the best available way” to lock in the master
plan for the site that was approved by the Zoning Commission
is to proceed with the TIF.
26, 2008: Boards give green light: town to take preliminary
step toward tax proposal for GLDC
The Redding Pilot
town will pursue a tax proposal for Georgetown Land Development
Company through a state agency to help jump-start remediation
and road work on the Gilbert & Bennett site. The boards of
Finance and Selectmen agreed Monday night in a joint meeting
that the master plan for the site as approved, with its mixed
commercial and residential uses, is key to the town’s economic
town has made a colossal investment in this project in terms
of time and talents,” said First Selectman Natalie Ketcham
after a two-hour-long executive session. “It’s been a long
seven years, but I don’t think the town can afford to wait
another seven years.”
the state Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, Georgetown Land
Development Company (GLDC), the site’s redeveloper, can get
the loan necessary to do the road work. The disrupted bond
market has made it difficult for the company to get necessary
town will agree, however, to forgo portions of tax increments
on the commercial properties only at the site to repay this
loan once the project comes online. Tax increments are the
tax revenue increases associated with the site’s increased
value once it is developed.
executive session was called to review financial statements
from GLDC to discuss its investment and intentions for the
project and to disclose proprietary financial information.
Donald Takacs said the “village” design will “provide an excellent
use of the site.” “It’s important to have adequate assurance
that GLDC will bring this project to a successful conclusion,”
he said regarding the board’s approval.
Tina Miller agreed with Mr. Takacs’ comments. She acknowledged
that these are uncertain economic times. “We have to weigh
the benefits and losses. For me, that balance is to go forward
with the TIF if the Board of Finance decides it’s financially
a good thing,” Ms. Miller said. “I’m convinced the remediation
of the road is the town’s best shot at getting the kind of
uses intended on the site.”
on the proposed senior housing for the site, and the cultural
amenities like the Wire Mill Arts Foundation theater plan
and the parking garage that “Main Street, Georgetown, desperately
needs,” Ms. Ketcham said there are “so many benefits to Redding”
in seeing the project come through as approved.
finance board is asking the Board of Selectmen to prepare
the first part of the application for the program and to set
up a meeting with the state to understand the process and
the associated risks. In the meantime, the finance board will
continue to assess the financial feasibility of the loan program
for the town, and make a decision to move forward. If the
finance board sees the plan as financially feasible for the
town, the negotiated proposal will go to a townwide vote.
the Oct. 27 finance board meeting, Stephen Soler, president
of Georgetown Land Development Company, which owns the site,
described how his company can’t issue bonds at a reasonable
rate in this market. The company needs money to begin road
remediation and infrastructure within the site, Mr. Soler
said. Without roads and infrastructure, the site will not
attract potential buyers of the commercial properties. Faced
with high carrying costs, Mr. Soler said his company is “nearing
the end of the rope” with the project. GLDC has proposed tax
increment financing (TIF), a concept by which the company
would receive a loan from the state to complete this work.
increased site value from that work creates more taxable property
and, in turn, increases tax revenues for the town — revenues
the town may gain sooner than if the project stalled due to
lack of funding.
proposal before the town pertains only to the commercial properties
on the Gilbert & Bennett site. The town would still collect
tax revenues earned in full from the residential properties
on the site and it would earn revenues associated with building
tax increment financing, the town always collects what GLDC
pays now in commercial property taxes, but the town would
direct a portion of the tax revenue collected above that base
amount in a payment to the state. After making a payment to
the state each year, over a negotiated period of time, the
town keeps the remaining revenue that comes in.
is not the first time tax increment financing has come before
the town. GLDC proposed this concept back in 2005, but did
not receive support from the town. With the Board of Selectmen’s
recommendation, the Board of Finance agreed to do its “due
diligence” in terms of the economic feasibility of this proposal
for the town.
finance board member Nick Simeonidis said, “circumstances
changed” for GLDC. “It made sense to revisit this issue. The
general consensus was that the master plan was put at risk
if this [tax increment financing proposal] didn’t proceed,”
there are no guarantees of the overall success of the project,
Mr. Simeonidis said the Planning Commission advised “the best
way to lock into the master plan is to build the next phase
of infrastructure.” “Based on those recommendations, I think
it falls on us to explore how to proceed in a fiscally feasible
manner,” he said. The
goal in the town’s involvement, he said, is to achieve the
master plan for the site.
member Frank DeSalvo said that a town meeting can’t be called
until negotiations have been made with the state regarding
the payment structure. “I think it’s much in our best interest
to take the next step,” Mr. DeSalvo said, adding the risk
is that GLDC will sell the property.
town will need to look at the different scenarios under this
tax structure, like interest rates, said Albert Viscio, a
finance board member. “It’s clear the state gets its money
back. It’s clear [Stephen] Soler gets the money.
we get back is unknown,” Mr. Viscio said.“
We need to look at that. I think we have a little bit more
work to do.”
appointed board member Rand Guffey concurred. He replaced
Christina Kearney who resigned that evening, “We’re all interested
in the development of this property. We’re also living in
unusual times, economically,” Mr. Guffey said. “We need to
review the legal responsibilities of all parties.”
Dolan, finance board member, said the request from GLDC is
“reasonable.” “Our job is to do our due diligence to protect
the town’s interest,” he said. “At face value it’s a ‘no-brainer,’
but if we’re going to forgo future tax revenues, we need to
make sure this project is going to happen.” He called the
road GLDC will build with this money a “road to somewhere,”
like the proposed train station, which is expected to be built
once the road work is complete. “I’m pretty optimistic we’ll
get to where we need to be to get the TIF to the town for
a vote,” Mr. Dolan said.
Bill Alvarez said a major concern is that if GLDC does not
do the remediation now, the town may ultimately be responsible
for it, specifically if the property were to be sold. According
to Mr. Soler, the cost to remediate and complete infrastructure
work is approximately $3.9 million. “I think the remediation
of the project should bear some fruit for us,” Mr. Alvarez
said, adding that the road also aids in keeping the master
plan intact. “It will make it difficult for someone to come
in, and gives assurance the project will come to fruition,”
of the public came in force to the joint meeting to express
opinions on the proposal.
Kopfstein spoke on behalf of the Commission on Aging as chairman.
The commission supports the TIF proposal based on the “benefits
for future generations,” and the “need for senior housing.”
“No one forced him to do this,” Ms. Kopfstein said of Mr.
Soler’s senior housing plan on the site. Proposed are 40 units
of affordable housing for senior citizens. The property value
increases will relieve the debt owed, she said, adding that
the town’s future “depends on” on the master plan.
Greg Berry and Bill Walsh said there should be “strings attached”
to the proposal for the town. Mr. Walsh said the “strings”
should come in the form of equity.
the outcome, said Nancy Silverman, owner of the Georgetown
Saloon, the town should not forget about Main Street. “It
keeps getting shorter and shorter changed,” she said of Main
Street and the proposed streetscape plan. She added that she
hopes the streetscape plan for Main Street is kept intact.
Lubarsky, a local businessman, said the public should be aware
that the tax increment payments reflect only one-third of
the total tax revenue increases the town will get under this
plan. “It’s not really the town throwing money at this project
as much as it is the catalyst to jump-start the project,”
he said. .
20, 2008: G&B tax proposal: Planners want seat at the table
The Redding Pilot
Planning Commission wants to be included in discussions over
whether the town should participate in a commercial tax proposal
to help jump-start infrastructure work on the Gilbert & Bennett
redevelopment in Georgetown.
a letter to the Boards of Selectmen and Finance, the commission
points to previous finance board meetings on the proposal,
citing a lack of focus on the potential long-term effects
on the town of losing the master plan for the site.
commission is asking to be included in any “public session
or in executive session.”
selectmen and finance board are meeting to discuss the tax
proposal on Monday, Nov. 24, at 7:30 p.m. at town hall. For
the Planning Commission, there are “financial and physical”
risks to the town’s well-being, it said in its letter, if
GLDC “fails to complete its work as the land developer, or
sells out from the project prior to implementing the road
and utility infrastructure of the approved master plan.”
the meeting, Robert Dean, commission vice chairman, said with
infrastructure in place, the risk of a high-density residential
project lessens because any development is therefore restricted
by the infrastructure boundaries. Under the affordable housing
appeals law, towns that don’t have the mandated 10% of their
housing stock as affordable housing are subject to an override
of their zoning laws by a developer through the courts. Redding
has no housing that fits the state’s definition of affordable.
higher densities, in turn, are seen as an incentive for providing
housing for moderate-income families, and the wealthier towns
are the main targets because the high value of the market-rate
housing units preserve a high profit margin on the project
as a whole,” the commission’s letter states.
could not only affect the potential for tax revenue coming
out of the site, but it could generate “substantial new expenses
for the town including potentially the need to construct an
additional school,” the letter stated.
30, 2008: G&B project owner seeks help from town
Land Development Company is asking the town to forego collecting
incremental tax increases on commercial properties within
the Gilbert & Bennett site for a period of time in conjunction
with a state program that would provide money the company
needs to begin road work.
the Board of Finance meeting Tuesday night, Stephen Soler,
Georgetown Land Development Company (GLDC) president, explained
the program, which is administered under the auspices of the
Connecticut Brownfield Development Authority. “It’s no secret
you can’t get a loan from a bank, and neither can we,” Mr.
Soler said of the stalled bond market.
company can issue bonds for the road work, but it cannot issue
bonds at a reasonable rate. Without roads, the site will not
attract potential buyers of the commercial properties, he
explained. And, without buyers, the town can’t realize the
master plan for the Gilbert & Bennett redevelopment calls
for a pedestrian-friendly, transit-oriented village with a
mix of residential, commercial and retail space, along with
amenities such as a community theater and a new railroad station.
This proposal would deal only with the commercial properties.
company was preparing to issue bonds for the roadwork in September
when Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, Mr. Soler said.
At the moment, he said, the company would be looking at spring
2009 as the earliest to get bonding. Noting the high carrying
costs he is incurring, Mr. Soler said he began discussions
with the state “on a number of levels.” “We wanted to see
if they would buy a portion of the bonds,” he said. Part of
the discussion with the state was about its role in financing
the proposed new train station at the site and a parking garage.
Soler said the state advised his company to look into tax
increment financing as part of the work the company was asked
to complete over the summer. This financing tool “is a way
to stimulate activity so you gain revenue,” Mr. Soler said.
With this plan, Georgetown Land Development Company would
receive money from the state to do the road work. Once the
infrastructure is in place, the town would begin making pledged
yearly payments to the state using what it collects in incremental
tax increases on the commercial property in the development.
town will always collect what GLDC pays now in commercial
property taxes with the mill rate factored in, but it will
direct a portion of tax revenue collected above that amount
toward its payment to the state. After the payment to the
state, the town keeps the remainder of the tax revenues. “I
have buyers for those properties, so that [increased assessed]
value will probably be realized in 2009 once the roads are
in,” Mr. Soler said.
he added, the assessor will see the value go up. When his
company went through the bond issuance procedures, Mr. Soler
said bond underwriters required the company to get an appraisal
of the site’s value with the roads in place. “It was two and-a-half
times what it’s worth today, but you can’t realize that without
roads and infrastructure,” he said. Once the roads are in,
he added, “value is realized instantly.”
what the alternative is, Mr. Soler responded frankly: “The
alternative is that we shut the place down because there is
no money out there.”
Bill Alvarez asked what the town’s risk would be — specifically
before infrastructure is in place. Mr. Soler said there is
no risk for the town. The tax pledge for the commercial property
at Gilbert & Bennett is with the landowner. If the town can’t
make the payments, the state essentially waits, even if a
new developer is brought in to complete the project. The only
downside for the town is that it will not collect additional
revenue beyond the property taxes owed if the project stalls.
the project will fail if we don’t step up and become a partner
to the extent of foregoing tax revenues for 15 years?” Mr.
Mr. Soler said.
added that the Connecticut Brownfield Development Authority
has implemented this program with different municipalities
throughout the state .
have asked where the town’s commitment is,” Mr. Soler said
of investors and buyers.
date, the town has not put anything into it.” Mr. Soler’s
company has put $40 million into the project, he said, and
the state has only provided a $500,000 grant. Most projects
of this scope have some town involvement, he added. “When
we started this early in 2002, I said we wouldn’t come to
the town for money,” Mr. Soler said. “Now, it’s seven years
later; I’m at the end of my rope.”
can imagine your frustration,” said board member Albert Viscio.
The board has requested an opinion from legal counsel with
regard to the payment schedule and the town’s obligations.
The board has scheduled a special meeting for this Monday,
Nov. 3, at 7:30 p.m. at town hall.
29, 2008: Gilbert & Bennett Wire Mill awarded $425,000 for
remediation and removal of contaminated soil
M. Jodi Rell announced today (Oct. 29) that the project will
be awarded $425,000 for remediation and removal of contaminated
soil at the site of the 51-acre former Gilbert & Bennett Wire
Mill. The award was for a community with less than 50,000
governor said a total of $2.25 million is headed to the Georgetown
site and four other brownfield sites. The money is intended
to assist in redevelopment efforts under a pilot program the
governor proposed and which was funded through the state Bond
Commission. “My administration is serious about responsible
growth, and reusing and redeveloping these contaminated and
often long-abandoned parcels is one of the most responsible
things we can do as a state,” said Ms. Rell in a press release.
our state grows and develops is more critical now than ever
before, and cities and towns agree,” said DECD Commissioner
Joan McDonald. “We received 18 applications to help remediate
sites throughout the state and had to make some tough choices.
Our primary objective in selecting participants was that funds
should bring any one component of a project to completion.
I think we were successful in this regard.”
25 , 2008: Gilbert & Bennett: River uncovered, bonding is
Wolf, The Redding Pilot
the daylighting of the Norwalk River is about 90% complete
at the Georgetown redevelopment project at the former Gilbert
& Bennett wire mill site, infrastructure work is temporarily
roads are designed and ready to go,” said Stephen Soler, Georgetown
Land Development Co. (GLDC) president. “We were going to the
bond market,” he said, adding that now there is a question
of when the bonds can go on the market with a decent rate.
the collapse of Wall Street, it’s hard to sell bonds,” he
said. When the bonds do go on the market, they will be benefit
assessment bonds. “I think the bond market will open up by
the end of the year,” said Mr. Soler, adding the company’s
bonds will be structured “so they can weather the storm for
the next three years.” With the residential market stalled,
Mr. Soler believes this portion of the project will be on
hold at least a year, but expects commercial building to move
forward. He said while the demand for residential housing
is there, people often can’t sell their homes for six to nine
months so they can’t buy now.
state has already approved a new railroad station at the site.
In question now is the size of the parking garage that will
accompany it. At one time, a 600-vehicle garage was planned,
including parking for a proposed health club. That idea has
since been scrapped, so Mr. Soler’s company was asked by the
state Department of Transportation (DOT) and the state Department
of Economic and Community Development to do a study of parking
needs. The study determined 450 spaces would be needed.
Soler said without the health club, his project needs only
300 spaces, but also taken into account is the town’s need
for more parking spaces for Main Street and Old Mill Road.
That was estimated at 150 spots. In any case, the number of
parking spaces will determine how many stories the garage
would have — at 600, four stories, at 450, three stories,
and at 300, two stories.
are planned for the roof of the garage, which would then not
use any energy from the power grid. “We’re in discussion with
the state for a financial structure for the garage,” said
Mr. Soler. He added that once the go-ahead is given on the
garage by the state — probably by the end of the year — it
would take about five months to build.
he said, the train station and garage could be in place by
2010. The building in the first phase of his project (commercial
and one residential building) would be done at the same time,
Mr. Soler said. “We kind of know who goes when on the commercial
side, but the residential will be a function of the market,”
he said. “We don’t know whether we’ll see residential in the
mix next spring or summer.” In Redding, he added, because
it is a rural community, people can get FHA loans.
Norwalk River, meanwhile, will be completely daylighted by
the end of the month. The buildings and most of the concrete
slabs that once covered the river have been removed. Work
also includes taking out a pedestrian bridge near the sawtooth
building. Since some of the river has been uncovered, Mr.
Soler said, a couple of large-sized koi have been seen. “There
are probably 300 to 400 fish here,” he said. Even a great
blue heron was spotted hanging out at the site over a recent
weekend. Over time, said Mr. Soler, more water will run into
the river. He explained the source is runoff from storms and
from the town of Ridgefield’s increase in treated runoff from
its sewage treatment plant because of a new water diversion
the top of the waterfall at the site, an existing building
is scheduled to house a restaurant with a deck overlooking
the waterfall on the second floor and a hydroelectric turbine
on the bottom floor. The turbine will generate power for lights
for the building. Near the waterfall will be a bridge that
will carry cars, and there will be new footbridges.
30, 2008: Redding Amends Wire Mill Site Plan
Tuz, The Danbury News-Times
Zoning Commission has approved the amended master plan for
Georgetown Land Development's redevelopment of the old Gilbert
& Bennett wire mill site. The commission approved the
amended plan last week. It consists of 19 single-family homes,
95 town houses and 250 lofts. Twenty new buildings are still
planned, including four garages, a theater and a sewer treatment
the master plan called for some 32 single-family homes and
69 town houses. GLDC is hoping that the new mix of single-family
homes and town houses will encourage older people to live
16, 2008: Norwalk River to see daylight at Gilbert & Bennett
MacEachern, The Wilton Villager
the first time in decades, a section of Norwalk River will
see daylight as early as tomorrow. Work began Tuesday to remove
a concrete floor at the former Gilbert and Bennett wire mill
factory, which is being redeveloped into a housing and commercial
complex. The concrete had covered an approximately 500 foot
long section of the river. It had been built to allow the
wire mill to expand its buildings about 75 years ago, said
Stephen Soler, president of Georgetown Land Development Company.
The concrete was being cut into slabs Tuesday and will be
lifted and removed. It's estimated the work will take anywhere
from 60 to 90 days to complete. Soler said the development
has been delayed, but he expects infrastructure work to begin
later this summer, with work on the buildings to begin in
G&B Dam in approximately
the high-pitched whine of a 65 horsepower turbo-charged diesel
saw cut through a concrete floor covering the Norwalk River,
Georgetown Land Development Company president Stephen Soler
said a "skittish" financial market is partially to blame for
a delay in the project. "They are a little skittish right
now," said Soler about the financial markets which have been
badly hit by the credit crisis. He made the comments during
a tour of the Georgetown site Tuesday, July 15.
the company wanted to issue bonds for infrastructure work
on the site in May and to have the work start in June. But
now he's looking at issuing the bonds next month. That could
lead to renovation work on existing buildings and erecting
new buildings in the fall, said Soler. He said he has no concerns
about the bonds selling, but the interest rate on the bonds
is a question mark. "I don't think we will have any problem
selling them, the problem will be the price," he said. He
said much of the delay is due simply to its complexity and
working with the state on getting its approvals for various
aspects of the project.
First Selectwoman Natalie Ketcham said the delay doesn't worry
the town. "We're certainly expecting it to go ahead. They
have invested a considerable amount of time and money in it
to get this far," she said.
was equally confident about the project which seeks to build
a mixed use residential and commercial development on the
site of the former Gilbert & Bennett wire factory in Georgetown.
The area borders Wilton's northeast corner. "We're still on
track and I expect to go vertical in the fall," he said about
beginning the process of erecting new homes and buildings
on the site.
30, 2008: GLDC meets Redding Finance Board
Gioiele, The Redding Pilot
will not be a substantial increase in the number of children
here,” said Mr. Soler. “I really don’t see a lot of children
here over all. The village being built is not conducive to
children. That’s the way the town wanted it.” Mr. Soler added
that in the seven years of preparing this project, only five
families have contacted him about housing.
saying that the town attorneys and your attorneys negotiated
this (age restriction) provision, and neither side looked
into whether it was legal?” asked Nick Simeonidis, a finance
board member. “Yes,” responded Mr. Soler.
the company’s master plan was approved by the Zoning Commission
in 2004, GLDC agreed that some 40% of the residential units
in the West Housing District would be owned or occupied by
at least one resident older than 55 years of age.
also stated that, best case scenario, the train station parking
garage could be completed by December 2009. Whether the structure
would hold 300 or 600 vehicles has yet to be determined, added
at the whim of the DEP,” said Mr. Soler. “There is a level
of frustration, but I can’t move ahead until I have all the
approvals. I don’t want to go slow here. I don’t make any
money that way.”
Soler told the finance board to expect to see property transfers
on the lots beginning as early as the fall, but at least in
the spring. Work completion depends on the speed at which
the DEP approves the company’s work.
18, 2008: Age-Restrictions Violate State & Federal Fair
Gioiele, The Redding Pilot
30th Update: Developers Meet with Finance Board
Land Development Company’s master plan to place age-restricted
housing in the redeveloped wire mill site has hit a snag.
Company officials have filed revised plans calling for the
removal of the age restriction provision — which dealt exclusively
with residential units to be located in the West Housing District
— and a reconfiguration of the housing mix, not total number,
of the residences offered.
are looking for a master plan revision on the provision relating
to age restriction,” attorney Richard Gibbons, representing
GLDC, told commissioners when submitting the application last
Wednesday. The Zoning Commission accepted the application
and set a public hearing for Wednesday, July 23.
plans must also be submitted to the Planning and Conservation
commissions for comment.
the master plan approved by the Zoning Commission in 2004,
GLDC agreed that some 40% of the residential units in the
West Housing District would be owned or occupied by at least
one resident older than 55 years of age. “The age restriction
was proposed in response to concerns raised with respect to
the growing school-age population and the impacts of the resulting
educational expenses to the town of Redding,” said Mr. Gibbons
in his application filed last Wednesday.
this approval, Mr. Gibbons said it was discovered that the
proposed age restrictions, if implemented, would violate the
Federal Fair Housing Act and the Connecticut Fair Housing
to comply with the master plan approval by implementing the
age restrictions would subject both GLDC and the town of Redding
to possible claims of age discrimination under both state
and federal laws,” said Mr. Gibbons in the application.
it is not in the best interest of either GLDC or the town
to implement the age restrictions.” GLDC officials then contacted
several attorneys highly respected in this area of law, and
Mr. Gibbons said their advice is clear — “imposition of the
age restriction in this redevelopment project was illegal
and unenforceable as currently proposed.”
an attempt to provide an alternative to the age restriction
option, GLDC officials are proposing revising the housing
mix, reducing the single-family homes by 13 and adding 23
townhouse units. “Reducing the number of (single family dwellings)
and replacing those with townhouses will achieve approximately
the same result as the age restriction with respect to the
potential number of (school age children),” said Mr. Gibbons
in his application.
development is limited to a maximum of 416 housing units site
wide. Mr. Gibbons states in his application that GLDC is “not
asking for more housing units in this proposal. The additional
townhouse units will just reduce the number of units available
in other areas of the village.” In GLDC’s application, Mr.
Gibbons said this revised housing mix is the preferable option
over creating a “completely self-contained, segregated and
unrelated senior community that would be totally restricted
to senior citizens. “This is not physically possible on our
site and it is not the sort of development envisioned by the
town for this property in its planning process, nor by GLDC.”
8 , 2008: Proposed theater in Georgetown seeks opinions
Wire Mill Arts Foundation wants to hear from all actors, musicians,
dancers, visual artists, arts technicians and those who just
like to attend theater events. “Cast your influence and mold
the design of a theater for arts in all its varied expression”
on Monday, June 9, or Tuesday, June 10, beginning at 7 p.m.
each night at the Mark Twain Library, 439 Redding Road, the
group said in its release.
Wire Mill Arts Foundation “invites you to share your thoughts,
ideas and needs...,” the release said. In the works is a flexible
200-seat studio theater at the former Gilbert & Bennett wire
mill off Route 107 for the communities of Redding, Wilton,
Weston and Ridgefield and beyond. The site is being redeveloped
by Georgetown Land Development Company into a pedestrian-friendly
village with a mixed use of residential, commercial and retail
use. The Wire Mill Arts Foundation, which has taken on the
responsibility of overseeing the creation and management of
this theater, “wants to ensure that it will indeed meet the
needs of audience and users. The Wire Mill Arts Center is
also contemplated to house two dance studios, a film screening
room as well as film editing facility, and classrooms for
educational outreach programming.”
6 , 2008: For
new railroad station Preliminary conceptual plans are on table
Gioiele, The Redding Pilot
work continues on the redevelopment of the former Gilbert
& Bennett wire mill site, project developers presented plans
for the “transit hub” on the southern side of Route 107. The
plans, which have yet to be formally submitted, call for construction
of a two-story, 310-spot parking garage. The proposal would
also include extensive landscaping plans.
new Georgetown train station, already approved by the state
Department of Transportation, includes a 515-foot platform
that could accommodate eight railroad cars, and a café-type
facility. Attorney Richard Gibbons, representing GLDC, told
members of the Zoning, Conservation and Planning commissions
he believes that final plans may be submitted within the month.
for the redevelopment project, company president Stephen Soler
said Metro-North has informed his company that work on the
new railroad crossing will begin in June or July. The company
also plans to issue bonds for on-site infrastructure. The
new road on the property that will connect to the railroad
crossing is expected to be built this fall.
15 , 2008: Wilton Y won’t have Georgetown facility
Wolf, Redding Pilot
Wilton Family Y will not have a satellite facility at the
former Gilbert & Bennett wire mill. On Tuesday, Lisa Bogan,
president of the Y’s board, and Bob McDowell, executive director,
announced through a submitted letter to the editor the Y’s
decision. After several years of discussion with Georgetown
Land Development Co., which is redeveloping the site off Route
107, the two said the Y has been unable “to develop a fiscally
responsible and timely project plan” for a facility.
Soler, company president, said he is glad the Y made the announcement
“before we built the building. We have spent a considerable
amount of time and money to meet their needs. We wish the
Y well in their future endeavors.” Mr. Soler said with the
Y’s decision not to pursue a facility at the site, it will
mean the height of the parking garage on the property will
shrink. Originally, said Mr. Soler, his company had planned
to build a 600-car garage with 250 spaces to accommodate the
proposed Y facility. “Now we are looking at 350,” said Mr.
Soler. This will provide sufficient space to accommodate the
new train station, he added. The Y had planned to build a
pool in the facility, which would have been near the new railroad
station. “We had identified the Y as an appropriate entity
to accommodate the request for a swimming pool in the development,”
said Mr. Soler. Without the Y, he said, there are no plans
for a swimming pool elsewhere on the property.
10 , 2008:
Meeting's focus is on new Georgetown Train Station
Land Development Company will be meeting with the town’s land
use agencies on May 28 for a pre-application discussion on
the new Georgetown Train Station. The station, already approved
by the state Department of Transportation, includes a 515-foot
platform that could accommodate eight cars and a café-type
facility. The site would also be home to a proposed parking
garage and potentially a health club. The station and otaher
facilities would be located at the company’s former Gilbert
& Bennett wire mill site off Route 107. The station has already
been designed, said Stephen Soler, GLDC president. After the
May 28 meeting, he said, the company would also meet with
Wilton’s Board of Selectmen and zoning commission for a pre-application
review since a portion of the platform would lie within that
town’s borders. “We may have to apply there, too,” said Mr.
Soler. A formal application would be submitted to Redding
appropriate land use agencies most likely in June. Mr. Soler
also said Metro-North has informed his company that work on
the new railroad crossing will begin in June or July. The
company also plans to issue bonds for on-site infrastructure.
The new road on the property that will connect to the railroad
crossing is expected to be built this fall.
8 , 2008:
mill developer confident
By FRANK MacEACHERN, Wilton Villager
man behind a massive redevelopment in Georgetown just outside
Wilton's town line said he's confident the project will go
ahead even in a real estate market downturn. "Like any market,
if it's priced right it will sell," said Stephen Soler about
the redevelopment at the former Gilbert & Bennett Wire Mill
the delays and the fall in the housing market locally and
nationally, Soler is confident the concept of developing a
village-like housing development will attract homebuyers.
He said the amenities, including having the Wilton YMCA construct
a second facility there will make it convenient for people
to live and work. "There's a reason why we're putting in the
train, there's a reason why we invited the (Wilton) Y, there's
a reason why we're encouraging people to walk," said Soler.
said more than 1,000 people are interested in the housing
units. There are 416 housing units, comprising single-family
homes, townhouses and loft-style apartments planned for the
development. Of those 55 are reserved for rent as affordable
6 , 2008:
officials face tough budget decisions
By Susan Tuz Staff Writer, Danbury News-Times
most towns are arguing about budget increases, Redding's selectmen
are looking at a 2008-09 municipal budget that is $447,500
less than the present year. Because it won't get some $900,000
in expected revenues from permits for development at the old
Gilbert & Bennett Wire mill site in Georgetown, the town
is making deep cuts in the coming fiscal year's budget. Not
only that, it is looking for $350,000 in additional savings
to meet expenses this year.
we continue in the process and get closer to June 30, we have
the possibility of more savings," said Larry Hutvagner, town
comptroller. "We're getting to where we can cut back on fuel
deliveries. Heat won't have to be on in town buildings. We're
buying less motor oil at the Highway Department. It's a small
savings, but every savings helps."
Land Development, which was expected to be under construction
this fiscal year, had permit delays at the state level, so
the town won't have its building permit fees. Steven Soler,
manager of Georgetown Land Development, said Friday that he
received the permits from the state in February and will start
putting infrastructure at the site in the next 60 days. "The
earliest Redding will see building permit revenues from us
is in the fall, once roads are in here," Soler said.
revenues are also down because people are slow in paying their
current taxes, which are also below projected figures. Selectmen
met March 31 and made cuts for this year and next. Hiring
an officer and a records clerk for the Police Department has
been put on hold until 2009, and a part-time zoning enforcement
officer will not be added either.
& Bennett redevelopment earns recognition for planning
By Susan Wolf, Redding Pilot
planning process for the Gilbert & Bennett redevelopment project
in Georgetown has been recognized by the Connecticut Chapter
of the American Planning Association. The 2007 Community Development
Award recognizes the commitment to the sustainable redevelopment
of the former Gilbert & Bennett wire mill site off Route 107.
Technically, Georgetown Land Development Company, the redeveloper,
was cited for the award, but Stephen Soler, company president,
asked that the award be presented to the town of Redding.
of the things cited (at the award ceremony) was the public/private
partnership aspect of it, the fact the town and the developer
worked together on planning goals,” said Rob Dean, Redding’s
Planning Commission vice chairman. He said Mr. Soler “felt
the town was key in the planning efforts, and the fostering
of the public/private partnership was something for which
the town deserves equal credit.”
Dean recalled how the company used a charrette-based approach
in planning for the project, getting input from all of the
stakeholders. “There was virtually no opposition by individuals
or groups to the redevelopment,” said Mr. Dean.
is really a model of how to take a complicated site with complicated
issues and do something that meets the approval of all of
the stakeholders,” he said. “The fact the Connecticut Chapter
of the APA gave this special recognition reflects the fact
that the planning community has begun to recognize the importance
of including not only the town government, but also the people
at large in the planning process, and the great importance
of a public/private partnership that keeps the priorities
of the town in view.”
this year: G&B project goes ‘vertical’
By Susan Wolf, Redding Pilot
was seven years ago that Steve Soler first set foot on the
former Gilbert & Bennett wire mill site; this year, he will
finally see building construction and light at the end of
the tunnel. Mr. Soler is president of Georgetown Land Development
Co., which is redeveloping the former industrial site into
a pedestrian-friendly village. A mix of residential and commercial
and retail uses is planned at the site, along with affordable
housing for the elderly, a community theater, a health club,
a Norwalk Hospital medical center, and a new railroad station.
The environmental problems on the site are being remediated.
told the town I would get the entitlements (state and local
permits) and, as is my business model, sell to a vertical
developer who would build what we planned,” said Mr. Soler.
“We are now in the final phase of negotiating terms with third-party
vertical developers so the project can get built,” he said.
He explained that with every element of the project, his company
is identifying the parties it thinks “are appropriate to go
vertical on the site. By the end of January, we should have
a group or groups identified for the entire site.” He is referring
to companies that might build a residential component or a
commercial building or the theater or the affordable housing.
“We are looking for the right people to treat the property
the way we believe it should be treated,” he said. At this
point, Mr. Soler expects infrastructure work to begin this
spring. Detailed plans are ready to go. Building is expected
by late summer or early fall. “Our goal is to put in the infrastructure
and then sell the development rights to third parties,” he
said. “We expect all of the infrastructure to be in by the
end of 2008. I would like to be optimistic and think all [the
build-out] will be in by 2011, but what will drive this is
the state permitting process.”
developers will not have free rein at the site, Mr. Soler
indicated. They must adhere to the zoning code for the property
in terms of what is permitted to be built at the site, and
to the design code, which specifically deals with how buildings
will look. Both were approved by the town’s Zoning Commission.
“The third party has to build what we designed,” he said.
The third element that comes into play, said Mr. Soler, is
the covenants in the land record that say how the village
Hospital Building in Georgetown
By FRANK MacEACHERN, Stamford Times
Hospital President and Chief Executive Officer Geoffrey Cole
could barely contain himself as he rhymed off the services
the hospital is providing. But even as he recited the list
of achievements and programs the hospital offers, he said
hospitals have to remember they are serving individuals. "We're
making a big priority over the next couple of years to significantly
de-institutionalize the hospital," said Cole.
hospital is in the midst of an ambitious expansion of its
services and facilities, said Cole, and is working not only
at the main hospital site but is expanding its reach throughout
Norwalk and in the Georgetown area in North Wilton and Redding.
Georgetown Norwalk Hospital is working on a 30,000 to 50,000
square feet building on the site of the former Gilbert & Bennett
wire mill factory. The area is being redeveloped as a mixed
used residential and commercial site. Construction on the
first buildings is expected to begin next summer. "That's
going to be important to people who live there, in Wilton,
Redding, Ridgefield," said Cole, who is a Wilton resident.
YMCA talks expansion
By FRANK MacEACHERN, Wilton Villager
Wilton Family YMCA will know by the spring whether it will
go ahead with a second site at the Gilbert & Bennett wire
mile, a breakfast meeting heard Thursday. Robert McDowell,
the Y's executive director, said the Y's board of directors
will look at financial and marketing reports at a meeting
next week to chart the organization's course.
agreed with a comment from an attendee at the meeting that
the softening housing market is delaying the development at
the Gilbert & Bennett wire factory site in Georgetown. "That's
our understanding," said McDowell. In comments after the meeting
he said the YMCA has had ongoing discussions with Stephen
Soler, president of Georgetown Land Development Company, and
that Soler is still enthusiastic about the project.
will start soon
said there isn't any problem with the housing market and expects
to "go vertical" in the summer with construction on the site.
"We are ready to go," said Soler Thursday afternoon. "All
the approvals have been granted [by the state]," said Soler.
The company had been waiting for those approvals, he said.
The company will be working on the infrastructure in the New
Year and then expect to start construction in the summer.
said more than 1,000 people who are interested in the housing
units. There are 416 housing units, comprising single-family
homes, townhouses and loft-style apartments planned for the
development. Of those 55 are reserved for rent as affordable
YMCA in Georgetown
a 36,000 square foot YMCA in Georgetown at the Gilbert & Bennett
wire mill is the best option for the organization, said McDowell.
"We've looked at a half dozen buildings and that's the best
site for us," said McDowell. The development's plan is to
convert the site into a mixed use site with a large residential
component. . McDowell said many of the Wilton Y's current
membership lives in North Wilton, Redding and part of Ridgefield
and building a satellite YMCA would better serve them. Membership
is around the 9,600 mark, said McDowell.
work expected to start soon at Gilbert & Bennett site
By Sue Wolf, Hersam Acorn Newspapers
road work is expected to begin at the former Gilbert & Bennett
wire mill site off Route 107 next month following the recent
state approval of the Georgetown Land Development Company’s
remedial action plan.
Nov. 5, Stephen Soler, company president, said the plan’s
approval means his company can now put in roads and infrastructure.
The first phase of roads will include North Main Street, the
new Station Place and the “front door” to the project, the
intersection of Portland Avenue with Route 107. Off-site road
work is not planned until spring.
the road work is in progress, said Mr. Soler, the slab over
the Norwalk River would be pulled out. This is part of the
process to “daylight” the river, which was covered over in
places while the mill was in operation. Another slab that
remains after a building’s demolition would also be removed
and would be recycled on the site. Mr. Soler said the state’s
environmental protection department has granted its approval
to recycle and reuse this slab. His company is awaiting approval
on the second slab.
company has also redesigned the new Bennett Street that is
to go by the park service (Weir Farm) building, the senior
housing planned at the site and the performing arts center.
Bennett Street is contained within the property and will be
off Portland Avenue.
touts his bill to relocate Weir Farm offices to G&B site
Hersam Acorn Newspapers
Shays testified on Oct. 30 and later submitted a written statement
of his testimony to the press on H.R. 1836, his bill, declaring,
“Currently, Public Law 105-363 only authorizes land acquisition
of property ‘contiguous to’ the park, which includes the towns
of Ridgefield and Wilton. This bill would change this clause
to ‘within Fairfield County,’ thereby allowing the NPS to
consider facilities across the county.”
said, “Weir Farm contributes to Connecticut’s rich culture
and history. It is the only National Park Service site in
Connecticut, and the only park in the country dedicated to
an American painter... Weir Farm hosts approximately 15,000
to 17,000 visitors annually. These visitors come to enjoy
the farm’s (60) acres and the studios that are a living monument
to Julian Alden Weir’s work.”
Park Service’s recommended location for a new administrative
facility at the former Georgetown wire mill is two miles from
Weir Farm, the congressman noted. His bill “would grant the
Park Service the authority to expand the Weir Farm facilities
into Redding. This measure has received support from the superintendent
of Weir Farm, and the Wilton and Redding local communities,”
action plan is in hand, on-site road work begins soon
By Sue Wolf, Hersam Acorn Newspapers
road work will begin at the former Gilbert & Bennett wire
mill site off Route 107 next month thanks to the recent state
approval of the Georgetown Land Development Co.’s Remedial
company is developing the site into a pedestrian-friendly
village of mixed uses. The project will include housing, commercial
and retail spaces, restaurants, a performing arts center,
a new Georgetown campus for the Wilton Family Y, a new Georgetown
train station on the Danbury branch of the Metro-North line
with service to Norwalk, Stamford, Greenwich, and New York
City’s Grand Central Terminal, and a medical facility for
Norwalk Hospital. It was notified of the remedial action plan
approval on Oct. 5.
action plan The state Department of Environmental Protection
approved the remedial action plan for the redevelopment of
the site. The approval means that work necessary to implement
the approved master plan for development may begin. “This
will address the remaining environmental concerns that were
the result of previous manufacturing at the site,” the company
said in its release.
eyes Georgetown for support functions
By Macklin Reid and Robin Walluck, Hersam Acorn Newspapers
aspect of Weir Farm’s envisioned expansion that has long worried
neighbors in Ridgefield — plans for a 10,000-square-foot building
housing a variety of support functions — may be moved off
Old Branchville Road and out of town. Weir Farm officials
say they’re looking into a variety of possible solutions,
including a land swap in which they would gain a building
on the old wire mill site in Georgetown, while giving up some
land off Old Branchville Road in Ridgefield.
amendment to the federal legislation creating The Weir Farm
National Historic Site is now being considered in Washington.
It would allow the park management to consider a wider variety
of options in trying to solve the problem posed by the need
for support facilities — from woodworking to storage — in
the residential neighborhoods surrounding the farm.
doesn’t find a solution, it allows us to look at other alternatives,”
said Linda Cook, supervisor of the Weir Farm Historic Site.
“Until we go through that looking process we won’t know if
we have a different alternative.”
the alternatives to be studied is the potential land swap
in with the Georgetown Land Development Company, which owns
the former Gilbert and Bennett Wire Mill site in Georgetown.
14, 2007: Sewer
plant, other work underway at former Gilbert & Bennett site
By Susan Wolf, Hersam Acorn Newspapers
work at the former Gilbert & Bennett wire mill site in Georgetown
is progressing, and the expansion of the wastewater treatment
plant is nearly complete. By about mid-September, said Mr.
Soler, the plant will be at least at 125,000-gallons-per-day
capacity (capacity is now at 75,000 gallons per day), and
by the end of October, at its full capacity (of 245,000 gallons
per day). Diagnostic tests will be run before the plant is
turned over to Redding, said Mr. Soler, who estimated that
could happen by the end of the year. A phosphorous treatment
system will be installed at the plant next month, once a changeover
order has been signed, said Mr. Soler.
4, 2007: Board OKs grant application to help clean up lagoon
By Susan Wolf, Hersam Acorn Newspapers
selectmen passed a resolution Monday night that paves the
way to a federal Small Cities program grant to help cover
the cost of remediating the lagoon site at 15 Main Street.
The lagoon is on the former Gilbert & Bennett wire mill site
off Route 107. The resolution allows First Selectman Natalie
Ketcham to apply for a $775,000 grant on behalf of the town.
At an Aug. 9 public hearing, there were no objections to the
town applying for the grant. Although the town had conducted
a public hearing on the application in 2005 in compliance
with the grant program, because of the lapse in time it had
to conduct another public hearing.
Birdseye View of
Georgetown in 2004
19, 2007: Small Cities Block Grant for Redding: Town to apply
for remediation funding
public agreed at last Thursday’s meeting that the former dumping
site for industrial waste from the former Gilbert & Bennett
wire mill needs to be remediated. Now it is in the hands of
the Board of Selectmen to apply for a grant to help fund the
project. The industrial lagoon is near the new sewage treatment
plant. When the factory was open, the area had been filled
with metal-rich sludge. (see below: lower right)
meeting set on G&B remediation plan
By Susan Wolf, Hersam Acorn Newspapers
Land Development Company is remediating the site as part of
its redevelopment project, which includes the creation of
a pedestrian-friendly village with mixed uses, such as residential
and commercial. Plans also call for a community theater, a
health club, a facility for Norwalk Hospital, a new railroad
station, and a parking garage. The remedial action plan applies
to the manufacturing area of the former wire mill facility
north from Route 107 to the top of Factory Pond off Portland
Avenue. It also includes the southern parcel, which is south
of Route 107, where the Georgetown sewer plant is located.
dispatch gets $300,000 from feds
By Chipp Reid and Susan Wolf, Hersam Acorn Newspapers
multi-town emergency dispatch center took one step closer
to reality last month thanks to a vote in the U.S. House of
Representatives. The center would set up a communications
system linking emergency responders in Redding, Ridgefield,
Weston and Wilton.
House passed a bill July 26 that includes $300,000 to centralize
police, fire and EMS service dispatch in a state-of-the-art
facility. Redding and Weston would see the most immediate
benefit of the center, if approved. Redding Police Chief Douglas
Fuchs said he and First Selectman Natalie Ketcham “are monitoring
the progress and are very hopeful (of getting the grant).”
new facility would operate at the former Gilbert & Bennett
wire mill site and would combine fire and police dispatch
for Redding and Weston. Wilton is also considering putting
police and fire at the new facility. “We are seeking to develop
an infrastructure whereby Redding, Ridgefield, Wilton and
Weston would be linked through the Redding Police Department
Communications Center,” Chief Fuchs said.
20, 2007, Grant for Redding lagoon remediation heads to a
new public hearing on Thursday August 9th, 7:30pm:
By Susan Wolf, The Redding Pilot
town must go through a “do over” on a grant application through
the federal Small Cities program to help cover the cost of
remediating the lagoon site at 15 Main St. The lagoon is on
the former Gilbert & Bennett wire mill site off Route 107.
Although the town conducted a public hearing on the application
in 2005 in compliance with the grant program, it must now
conduct another public hearing.
remediation plan for the site is to cap the metal-impacted
soil with appropriate monitoring and institutional controls.
GRC has a $200,000 federal Environmental Protection Agency
grant through its Brownfields Cleanup Grant Program, in addition
to a $100,000 Targeted Brownfields Assessment Grant from the
EPA. The corporation also has cash it received when it took
title to the property. The remainder to remediate the site
and cover the grant administration fees would come from the
hearing is set for Thursday, Aug. 9, at town hall at 7:30
9, 2007: Air Quality and Health Concerns:
By BRIAN GIOIELE, The Redding Pilot
Land Development Co. (GLDC) officials are continuing efforts
to ease health concerns related to recent demolition work
at the former Gilbert & Bennett wire mill site.
attorney Richard Gibbons told the Zoning Commission last Wednesday
that state health department officials have confirmed that
dust that emanated from the location during the blasting process
did not pose any medical threat to nearby residences, specifically
Landmark Academy, located at neighboring 20 Portland Ave.
people at Landmark Academy are panicking right now,” said
Mike Pilato, who leases the 20 Portland Ave. property to the
academy. Mr. Pilato said parents of students attending Landmark
Academy voiced concern about the dust in the building from
the nearby work. He added that 20 families have since removed
their children, and the academy has “lost $200,000.”
Gibbons said GLDC acted quickly to alleviate health concerns,
having state health department officials even come to the
academy to speak to parents and school officials. “They even
sent a letter stating that there was no health concern here,”
said Mr. Gibbons.
the bond, the commission has ordered GLDC provide a $500,000
bond to the town prior to the demolition work, with 50% released
six months after a particular phase was complete.
19, 2007: Old Gilbert & Bennett Plant Going Green
By Robert Miller, Danbury News Times
its past, the Gilbert & Bennett wire factory in Georgetown
provided people jobs. It gave them a life. But it also polluted
the Norwalk River and belched smoke into the air. In its newest
incarnation, the plant will once again be filled with people
-- folks living in factory space converted into lofts and
condominiums, and working in its offices, stores and restaurants.
It will be green -- built with new energy-efficient technology,
boasting pedestrian walkways instead of roads, tied to mass
transit through the construction of a new train station on
the Danbury-to-Norwalk Metro-North line. Read
13, 2007: Gilbert & Bennett Renovation gets boost from
By Dirk Perrefort, The News-Times
allowing developers of the abandoned Gilbert & Bennett Wire
Mill in Georgetown to issue $72 million in bonds for the project
unanimously passed the state legislature.
smart growth project has been lauded by officials throughout
the world as a model for serving the community, the economy
and the environment.
Redding Pilot article about bonds and upcoming projects.
repair work starts June 11 at Factory Pond- Recent
Update: DEP Monitoring Work
Monday, June 11, repair work will begin on the Factory Pond
dam located at the former Gilbert & Bennett Manufacturing
Company. Factory Pond, an impoundment just above the dam,
will be partially lowered to allow repairs to the dam’s masonry
and to the foundation walls of the buildings adjacent to the
dam. The work will consist of re-pointing the mortar of the
stone masonry on the face of the dam and drilling and grouting
the dam to curb water seepage.
project is expected to take six weeks.
engineering firm of Tighe & Bond developed the dam repair
project. The project has been approved by the Connecticut
Department of Environmental Protection.
7, 2007: Ridgefield (and Wilton) looks at regional police/fire
dispatching in Georgetown
By Chipp Reid, Ridgefield Press Staff
Burford said regional dispatch is becoming popular in many
areas of the country. “It allows communities to combine their
resources,” she said. “We don’t have unlimited numbers and
we rely on mutual aid. This would give us the ability to know
all the different resource types we need.” If a fire call
went into the regional center, it would allow the immediate
dispatch of mutual aid to a large fire or accident, potentially
shortening the response time. “We would be enhancing our communication
center through equipment upgrades that would allow the regional
dispatch center to dispatch fire and/or police for the four
municipalities,” The Wilton Bulletin quoted Redding Police
Chief Douglas Fuchs as saying. Read
17 , 2007: Owners seek environmental designation
By SUSAN WOLF, The Redding Pilot
Soler, Georgetown Land Development Company president, the
redeveloper of the former manufacturing site, said his project
is among 360 applications for a LEED (Leadership in Energy
and Environmental Design) pilot program. If approved, he said,
his project would be designated a Gold LEED development, and
the designation would apply to the entire development. Read
24 , 2007: Norwalk Hospital is coming to Georgetown: Norwalk
Hospital prescribes expansion
By Alexander Soule, The Fairfield County Business Journal
Hospital became the first institutional entity to commit to
taking space in a massive brownfield redevelopment site in
Redding, part of a large hospital expansion at three separate
sites. Norwalk Hospital is reserving at least 30,000 square
feet for urgent care services, and other clinical services
such as laboratory, radiology and offices for primary care
physicians and specialists. Read
8, 2007: Gilbert & Bennett site is ever-changing as project
By SUSAN WOLF, The Redding Pilot
visitor to the former Gilbert & Bennett wire mill site would
see significant changes in the landscape — 20 buildings have
been demolished with recyclable materials stacked in piles.
The waterfall once hidden by buildings is now visible, and
soon the portion of the Norwalk River covered by buildings
or concrete will see daylight. Read
21, 2007: New train station is on track for 2011 At Gilbert
& Bennett site
By MAR WALKER, The Redding Pilot
-- In late summer 2011, the blue and white HART bus on its
regular Route 7 route may take its first spin around the bus
loop in front of the new Georgetown Train Station. Train riders
disembarking in Georgetown might be commuters arriving home
after a hard day’s work in the city, some of them walking
home from the station. Riders might also be tourists, desiring
a little stroll along a pleasant walkway by the Norwalk River,
lunch at a Main Street eatery, or to catch a scheduled shuttle
bus to the Weir Farm National Historic Site, or an evening
show at the performing arts center. These are among the future
visions of the Georgetown Land Development Company (GLDC),
which has left few stones unturned in its quest for cutting-edge
designs for its redevelopment project and funding “opportunities”
to match them. Read
5, 2007: Old buildings remain...photos
from Redding Pilot
25, 2007: G&B redevelopment has role, along with a state mandate
in town budgets
By SUSAN WOLF, The Redding Pilot
-- Town department budget requests for the next fiscal year
are being driven by a number of factors — from the redevelopment
of the Gilbert & Bennett site, to a mandated storm water management
plan, to the cost of electricity, to a change in the paramedic
intercept program. Read
23, 2007: From a Mill, A Village
By KATHLEEN SCHASSLER, Special To The Hartford Courant
-- The piercing whistle blasts that called three shifts of
workers to the Gilbert & Bennett Manufacturing Co. have been
silent for decades, but the complex could soon become a model
for bringing new life to hulking, deteriorating vestiges of
the state's industrial past. Read
16, 2007: Demolition Continues...photos
from Redding Pilot
8, 2007: North Main Street closed for relocation
accommodate a new train station and the parking garage that
will accompany it, the rail crossing on North Main Street
will be relocated. Additional other work will be conducted
at several intersections along the road including at the the
junctures of both Route 7 and Route 107.
28, 2006: Three Buildings Removed
first industrial building to be demolished at the former Gilbert
& Bennett wire mill site in Georgetown occurred at around
10:30 a.m. on Thursday morning. It was one of three interior
buildings slated for demolition this week. All three have
undergone asbestos abatement. While there are other buildings
slated for demolition because they were determined unfit for
renovation, many of the other historical buildings will be
renovated for new uses.
Land Development Company is spearheading the redevelopment
of the site, which will be converted to a pedestrian friendly
village with residential, retail and commercial buildings,
as well as a health club and railroad station.
27 , 2006: North Main St. Closed Starting Jan. 8th
Georgetown Land Development Company has announced that starting
Monday, Jan. 8, North Main Street will be closed for road
relocation. The work is part of the Gilbert & Bennett wire
mill redevelopment project.
accommodate a new train station and the parking garage that
will accompany it, the rail crossing on North Main Street
will be relocated. Additional other work will be conducted
at several intersections along the road including at the the
junctures of both Route 7 and Route 107.
22, 2006: Projects under way throughout state
by Susan Tuz, Danbury News Times
growth is defined as development that serves the economy,
the community and the environment. That's the definition used
by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, which supports
the concept with grants and technical help. Redding was one
of five communities in the country chosen by the EPA for a
Smart Growth award in November 2005. Read
28, 2006 At Gilbert & Bennett site: Traffic plan is approved
Stage is set for development
by SUSAN WOLF, Redding Pilot
major hurdle has been crossed for the redevelopment of the
former Gilbert & Bennett wire mill site in Georgetown. State
Traffic Commission approval is now in place; once the requirements
are met, the developer can get his traffic generator certificate
from the commission and begin “to pull building permits in
town.” That means, said Stephen Soler, president of the Georgetown
Land Development Company (GLDC), the redeveloper, that his
company may sell or finance property. “We need this to develop.”
GLDC owns the 55-acre wire mill site off Route 107. Read
21, 2006 DEP: Pond drain illegal
By James Nash, Wilton Villager
Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection recently
served notice to the Georgetown Land Development Company [GLDC]
stating that an inspection conducted by the company on Aug.
3 was illegal. According to the DEP, the inspection, which
concluded a drawdown of water through a dam at the Factory
Pond on the Gilbert and Bennett property, violated state water
diversion law. Read
21, 2006 Seeing gold in Fairfield County brownfields
By Alexander Soule, Fairfield County Business Journal
the naked eye, the ruins of the Gilbert & Bennett wire mill
are much as Steve Soler first observed them in 2001. Broken
window panes, likely the work of well-aimed rocks from teens,
stretch the length of the brick mills. The factory pond, listed
as a Superfund site in 1999, still glows in the setting sun.
Soler’s senses pick up what many others do not. The lead and
zinc sludge has been carted away, 3,000 cubic yards of it,
replaced with lime kiln dust and a protective earthen cap.
He can already visualize the scenic waterfall that will cascade
into the 12-acre pond, rehabilitated to reflect the surrounding
green hillsides. Soler can hear the train chugging into the
adjacent station, dropping off residents from jobs down the
line who crowd shops and cafes on a summer eve. Read
17, 2006 Gilbert & Bennett Dam: Drawdown Causes Concern
By Jeff Yates, Wilton Bulletin
to Dick Harris, a water quality monitoring expert with Harbor
Watch/River Watch of Earthplace in Westport, the dam drawdown
was discovered by chance on Thursday, Aug. 3, when two DEP
officials happened to be inspecting the Norwalk River south
of the dam along Old Mill Road. “When they got to Old Mill
Road, a big wall of water came rolling down river,” he said
of what the officials related to him in a phone call from
the river. Mr. Harris told them to continue upstream until
they found the source of the high water and they quickly discovered
the dam at Gilbert & Bennett was being drained. “ Read
20, 2006 Q & A With Georgetown Land Development President
the next year, the green building community nationwide will
know about Georgetown (Redding) Connecticut, if they don’t
already. Green buildings will dominate the old Gilbert & Bennett
Wire Mill and create a strong sustainable community with a
very hip town center. The project is being done by Georgetown
Land Development Company (GLDC), a socially conscious real
estate development firm in Georgetown. GLDC President Stephen
Soler took some time to meet with us and discuss the project.
13, 2006 Streetscape plan inches closer
By MAR WALKER, Redding Pilot
Streetscape project, with about $1.2 million in state and
federal grants waiting to be spent, is one small step closer
to getting out of the town’s land use office and into reality.
According to First Selectman Natalie Ketcham, the town’s engineering
consultants, Milone and MacBroom, have agreed to undertake
a study of the Georgetown sewer plant’s capacity — a study
requested by planners because of the increased density on
Main Street that the Streetscape plan would entail. Because
of the narrow right-of-way on Main Street, the plan gives
a waiver of parking requirements and a “density bonus” of
increased allowable lot coverage for property owners who ceded
a portion of their frontage to the town. Increased density
means more people are flushing. “The Planning Commission wants
to make sure we either have the capacity, or could readily
add it, if demand required it,” Ms. Ketcham said. The study,
which is already under way, is of the sewer plant’s capacity
apart from the plant expansion approved for the Georgetown
Land Development Company project at the old Gilbert & Bennett
wire mill site. Read
6, 2006: In Superior Court DEP to defend Georgetown's sewer
By MAR WALKER, Redding Pilot
Department of Environmental Protection will head to court
over a permit it issued last November for the town’s Georgetown
Sewer Plant expansion. The permit increases the plant’s allowable
discharge to allow for the redevelopment project at the old
Gilbert & Bennett wire mill property. Both the permit’s specifics
and the DEP’s hearing process are being questioned by a Ridgefield
resident, Vincent Giordano, who has filed an administrative
appeal against the DEP in Connecticut Superior Court. Mr.
Giordano is an environmental attorney for General Electric.
He is GE’s grant liaison to EarthPlace, which sponsors the
RiverWatch program for the Norwalk River and Long Island Sound.
22, 2006: Regional 911 service?
By Susan Wolf, Redding Pilot
regional 911 dispatch center that would serve four area towns,
Wilton, Redding, Weston, and Ridgefield, is on the table,
pending a successful grant application and agreement by the
towns. Through Congressman Christopher Shays’ office, the
town has requested $500,000 in federal funds to create a regional
dispatch center in Georgetown. The state is also encouraging
this regional approach, said Redding First Selectman Natalie
Ketcham. Capt. Crosby said it’s unusual to see a regional
dispatch center in southwestern Fairfield County. “It’s something
that’s happening in other parts of the country,” he said.
18, 2006: Zoners OK G&B Development
By BRIAN GIOIELE, Redding Pilot
Land Development Company’s plans for the former Gilbert &
Bennett wire mill site were approved, with conditions, by
the Zoning Commission last week. The Zoning Commission gave
its blessing to the largest project in the town’s history,
one that calls for the redevelopment of the 55-acre parcel
at an estimated cost of more than $22 million.
decision was met with applause by those in attendance, including
GLDC head Steve Soler, his attorney, Richard Gibbons, and
First Selectman Natalie Ketcham. The town and the company
have been working in a public-private partnership on the project.
The commission’s approval brings an end to a process that
included a public hearing continued over four separate meetings
and three subsequent discussion sessions. Read
4, 2006: Gilbert & Bennett is one step closer to final approval
By BRIAN GIOIELE, Redding Pilot
Zoning Commission moved another step closer to a decision
on the largest development project in the town’s history.
Commission members spent less than an hour last Wednesday
tossing out ideas on potential conditions that would be part
of any approval of Georgetown Land Development Company’s proposal
to redevelop the old Gilbert & Bennett wire mill site. Read
27, 2006: Georgetown Special Taxing District: USDA
loan will help finance expansion of sewer plant
By MAGGIE CALDWELL, Redding Pilot
Georgetown Special Taxing District has received a $5-million,
30-year loan from the USDA Rural Development’s Water and Environment
program to fund initial renovations for the Redding wastewater
treatment plant. The Union Savings Bank of Danbury is providing
the interim construction financing for the loan. Read
18, 2006: Projects bring optimism to Georgetown
By James Lomuscio, Special Correspondent, Stamford Advocate
a small, sunken half-acre on the side of the road where Routes
57 and 107 meet, an out-of-sight parcel that few passing motorists
would notice. The land was so out of view that the state Department
of Transportation used it over the years as a place to dump
mounds of concrete and asphalt left over from road repairs.
15, 2006: Construction boom keeps mill rate at bay
Danbury News Times
— Construction of new upscale homes in Redding skyrocketed
this year, boosting the town's Grand List 4 percent, to $1.51
billion. Although the municipal and schools budget for 2006-07
is up 8 percent, Redding officials say there will be no increase
in the mill rate, now 22.74.
17, 2006: Governor Rell, Congressman Shays Announce $600,000
For Gilbert & Bennett Wire Mills Site in Redding
M. Jodi Rell and Congressman Christopher Shays announced today
that the state has awarded the town of Redding a $600,000
Small Cities grant for the demolition and cleanup of three
buildings located on the old Gilbert and Bennett Wire Mills
property. State funding will be used to contain the high amounts
of lead, asbestos, and other hazardous materials that currently
exist at the site. Read
2005 National Award for Smart Growth Achievement
Gilbert & Bennett wire mill redevelopment is a model for complex
reuse projects. The strong public-private partnership invited
community input in the design process, facilitated the remediation
plan, and expedited adoption of the master plan.
the neighborhood is complete, the Town of Redding expects
that it will create over 1,700 permanent jobs and provide
the town with $4.7 million in new, annual property tax revenues.
Lieberman, Shays Congratulate Redding on EPA Smart Growth
D.C. – Today, Senators Chris Dodd and Joe Lieberman and Congressman
Christopher Shays congratulated the Town of Redding for receiving
the National Award for Smart Growth Achievement from the Environmental
Protection Agency. Redding was honored for its work with the
Georgetown Land Development Company to develop the former
Gilbert & Bennett Wire Mill into a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood
based on the principles of sustainable development. Read
just a note of interest...Gilbert & Bennett's factory
in Toccoa, GA is also being renovated:
Industries Inc., headquartered in Long Island, N.Y., will
open a steel bathroom partition plant in Toccoa, Ga., this
year bringing 60-plus jobs to the local market, said Mitch
Griggs, with the Stephens County Development Authority.
company is buying the former Gilbert and Bennett building
on GA 145 and will spend $5 million to renovate the facility.
The plant could employ up 100 people as the market grows,
Mr. Griggs said.
Toccoa, GA location is where G&B relocated operations
to in 1989.
Sewage/Water Treatment Plant Information (off-site
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