New London – The city is considering establishing a special neighborhood to combat the scourge and boost investment incentives in the area surrounding the vacant Garfield Mills.
The idea of ââforming a Tax Rise Funding District comes even as a developer moves forward with plans for the estimated $ 36 million adaptive reuse of the sprawling vacant Garfield Avenue factory complex. New owner, Litchfield-based Park Lane Group, is planning 90 apartments, a mix of market-priced and affordable housing, inside buildings originally constructed to house rows of silk looms.
The area has a mix of residential, industrial and commercial properties.
The TIF district would set aside any increase in tax revenue from rising property values ââfor the benefit of improved infrastructure in this area. Felix Reyes, director of the New London Planning and Development Office, said the money could be used to improve roads, sidewalks, parks, lighting or any other project to improve the quality of life residents. It would also serve to encourage owners of industrial and commercial properties in the region that are either vacant or in ruins to invest.
“It is essentially a mechanism by which part of the tax revenue is reinvested in the neighborhood,” said Mayor Michael Passero. âWe want the private investment market to look at the opportunities in this area. We have targeted this neighborhood as a prime location to increase our mixed income housing stock.
As the coronavirus pandemic slowed movement with the development of the plant, Park Lane Group director Ted Lazarus said a lot of work was underway behind the scenes to secure funding from a mix of sources. comprising historic federal and state tax credits available for adaptive reuse. projects like this.
The property 90 Garfield Ave. earlier this year was added to the National Register of Historic Places under its historical name: the Edward Bloom Silk Company Factory. The complex was built between 1920 and 1960 and consists of several red brick buildings. It has also housed the Garfield Belt Company, the National Foreman’s Institute, and the Templeton Radio Manufacturing Company.
Lazarus had also worked with city officials, including grants coordinator Adriana Reyes, to secure a million dollar award from the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development Brownfield grants program. There is no city correspondence required and the money will help defray the costs of remediation of contaminants at the site.
Lazarus said his company is finalizing financing for the project and performing other environmental studies of the property. He is working with the city to organize a community forum in the New Year to present his plans. “We just want the neighbors to know what we are planning,” he said.
Reyes said Garfield Mills is a difficult site to develop, as evidenced by the length of time it has been empty.
âFrom a city perspective, kudos to him,â Reyes said. âHe’s doing what needs to be done for this type of project. Without that effort, we lose the buildings and start thinking about demolition.
Reyes said an improvement in the quality of life in the surrounding neighborhoods was also personal to him, having grown up in the area. The city council is expected to be involved in discussions on the TIF district in the coming weeks.