Gov. Malloy: State to Invest $19 Million in Waterbury for Economic Development and Infrastructure Projects
Announces Funding to Begin Planning for Major Signal Upgrades on the Waterbury Branch Line
(WATERBURY, CT) - Governor Dannel P. Malloy, joined by Waterbury Mayor Neil M. O'Leary and other state and local officials, today announced a $19.2 million package of state investment in six development and improvement projects in downtown Waterbury, as well as funding for the design of a new signalization system for Metro-North's Waterbury Branch. The state investment package, known as "Waterbury Next," is part of Governor Malloy's overall commitment to investing in housing, jobs and transit-oriented and economic development to revitalize cities and downtowns across the state.
"With the help of private and public sector partners, we are identifying and investing in local capital projects in our cities and towns that lead to transit-oriented and economic development, improve the quality of life for residents and create jobs in these communities," said Governor Malloy. "That's exactly what the projects contained in 'Waterbury Next' accomplish as we work towards revitalizing cities and downtown areas across Connecticut because we know that doing so will make us a stronger, more competitive state overall."
The "Waterbury Next" initiative will build on the momentum of the city's revitalization in the last several years with the redevelopment of the Palace Theatre, the success of the UConn Waterbury campus and continued reductions in crime and blight.
"These initiatives represent an incredible leap forward for Waterbury, our economy and quality of life," said Waterbury Mayor Neil O'Leary. "Today's announcement will produce benefits to our entire region that will be felt for generations to come. I cannot express strongly enough how grateful we are for Governor Malloy's continued leadership, support and assistance to Waterbury."
The total package of $12.2 million supports six elements of the "Waterbury Next" strategy:
Up to $5 million to support the redevelopment of the historic Howland Hughes building located at 114-116 Bank Street. The city believes that with modern upgrades to the building's interiors and facades, a significant commercial tenant with up to 500 jobs could be attracted to downtown Waterbury
$4 million of improvements in public realm infrastructure in downtown Waterbury, including new pavement, curbs, basic street trees and lights, pavers, curb alignment and drainage, and upgrades to the West end of the city's green. The state and city believe this enhanced streetscape and public open space will make downtown Waterbury more attractive to employers and residents.
Up to $1 million to acquire the long-underutilized Anamet site located at 698 South Main Street, a contaminated brownfield site, which will enable both a new mixed-use development as well as the creation of the Naugatuck Valley Greenway, which will be a significant new public open space amenity for downtown Waterbury. Governor Malloy previously announced a $2 million grant to the city to fund the demolition and environmental remediation of the site.
$1.2 million to demolish the blighted and long-closed Prospect Street garage which will enable the construction of a new parking structure to meet the expected surge of demand for parking with an increasingly active downtown Waterbury. This new facility is expected to be privately financed and operated.
$1 million to support the city's acquisition of the historic Rose Hill campus located at 63 Prospect Street to be repurposed for a mix of non-profit, education and recreational uses. The city believes that repurposing this property for a mix of uses including non-profit office space, recreation and educational space, will accelerate the revitalization of Downtown Waterbury, enhancing the other investments that are being made in the downtown area, including a significant housing rehabilitation project underway immediately adjacent to this property known as Gaffney Place. Waterbury intends to partner with area non-profits and/or education partners for re-use.
Up to $25,000 for an access and pre-development agreement with the owners of the property known as the Brown Building located at 20/52 East Main Street, to allow the city and the current owner conduct feasibility studies and explore potential zoning changes to maximize the potential for a private developer to add new downtown housing units. The large, centrally-located Brown Building is an attractive site for a mixed use development with retail on the ground floor, and apartments above could help meet projected demand for new housing units through 2018 of over 13,000 units within Waterbury's primary market area including an estimated 10% (1,300 units) anticipated within Waterbury's central business district.
The state and city believe that these public infrastructure and strategic development projects will attract significant private investment to Waterbury and, in turn, lead to additional opportunities for economic growth and job creation. The Malloy administration's investments in Waterbury will also facilitate the development of new downtown housing near public transit hubs, which will attract new residents and encourage smart growth in Waterbury.
"Investing in our urban areas helps create dynamic downtowns that are attractive to the talented, entrepreneurial workforce our employers need," said state Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) Commissioner Catherine Smith. "By partnering with cities like Waterbury to stimulate local growth at transit hubs, we will see increased economic activity in the future which helps both the state and local economies."
Concurrent with the "Waterbury Next" announcement, Governor Malloy announced that work will begin in 2015 on the design of a new signalization system for the Waterbury Branch of the New Haven Line that will enhance safety and pave the way for more trains and improved service. Funding of $6 million to $7 million will be provided by the Connecticut Department of Transportation for the design.
With links to with the soon to be completed CTfastrak, a dedicated bus roadway in central Connecticut, the improvements to the Waterbury Branch will turn Waterbury into a major intermodal transit hub. People will be able to take a bus from Waterbury and connect via CTfastrak with Hartford and the rest of central Connecticut, and CTfastrak will connect Hartford to MetroNorth via the Waterbury Branch.
The Waterbury Branch is the only portion of the Metro-North service that does not have a signal system. That, combined with the fact that much of the branch only has one track, prevents any more trains from being operated on the line. The signal system design will also incorporate new passing sidings, allowing for north- and southbound trains to safely pass each other. The number of new sidings and other improvements will be determined during the design process. Once signalization is completed, it is expected that additional peak, off peak, and reverse direction trains will be able to operate on the branch.
Last month, Governor Malloy held a bill signing ceremony in Waterbury for legislation that implements a series of improvements to the state's brownfield programs. The new law , passed during the General Assembly's 2014 session, is focused on making the process of remediating and returning brownfields to productive use easier and more efficient for municipalities and private developers.