City receives $750K grant for Star Pin building remediation

Focus of the city’s continued revitalization of Canal Street has now turned to the historic Star Pin Co. building — built in 1875 and has sat vacant for some 15 years.

The state Department of Economic & Community Development, on Dec. 19, announced it has approved a $750,000 grant for the remediation of hazardous building materials from the building at 267 Canal Street, which the city foreclosed on months ago for back taxes.

“This happens a lot in Connecticut,” said Mayor Mark Lauretti about the foreclosure, adding that the city foreclosed on the property because of some $600,000 owed in back taxes. “But you have to finally recognize that we’re never going to recover that, It’s abandoned. The best thing to do is cut your losses and get the property back on the tax rolls. We, as a city, have been pretty successful at doing that with several properties in downtown.”

This is the first step for the old Star Pin Co. building. Paul Grimmer, president of the Shelton Economic Development Corp., the managing agent for the project, said that the grant money will be used to remove the lead, PCBs and asbestos from the 118,000-square-foot building.  Running concurrent with that work will be a soil and groundwater assessment to be performed by Tighe & Bond. In addition to the most recent grant, the city received a $200,000 grant to complete that assessment, a contract for which Grimmer expects to be finalized by the end of next month.

“The city plans to methodically move through this process,” said Grimmer, adding that once city officials determine that the site is suitable for resale, “then we can go ahead.”

Starting in 1996, the city started the Canal Street Revitalization Program. For the past three decades, through a series of grants and private partnerships, the city has cleaned up or demolished 13 of the 17 properties along the street — and the latest work is focused on the historic Star Pin building, the oldest industrial building in the city, and along Canal Street.

The Star Pin Factory was built in 1875, within which millions of brass pins, hooks and buttons were fashion for nearly 110 years. In the early 1980s, the Star Pin Co. left Shelton, but the building retained its name.

Over the past 30 years, the property housed a variety of manufacturing firms, some of which conducted plating operations. The property has been largely vacant over the past 15 years and age and weather are beginning to exact a toll on the buildings structural integrity.

This property is now part of the city’s master plan for redevelopment, said Grimmer, and the city of Shelton has approved the reconstruction of the property for residential purposes, with the approved plan allowing for 72 residential units and 128 parking spaces.

The grant Shelton has received was among 11 such grants — totaling $3.6 million — awarded to 11 projects in eight Connecticut municipalities to assess, remediate and revitalize blighted properties in their communities — also known as “brownfields” — and put them back into productive use. These projects encompass 59 acres of redevelopment.

“The redevelopment of brownfields presents a huge economic potential,” Gov. Dannel Malloy said. “Over the past eight years we have done just that, and today, thousands of acres of once contaminated former industrial land and buildings have been repurposed to meet the needs of today’s businesses and communities. Brownfield remediation benefits neighbors, local economies, and the environment, and this round of funding will make our cities and towns better, more vibrant places to live and work.”

All funds will be awarded through the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD).

Since Malloy took office in 2011, state investments of approximately $206 million have supported more than 234 brownfield projects across 72 municipalities, remediating 3,062 acres and leveraging approximately $3.2 billion in non-DECD funds. In addition, these investments are helping create more than 3,000 permanent and 15,000 construction jobs.

“Brownfield investments like the ones we are announcing are a central part of the state’s larger plan to spur economic growth at the local level, and the positive impacts are wide-ranging,” DECD Commissioner Catherine Smith said. “They help create jobs, address contamination issues, reverse blight, support new housing development and promote transit-oriented development — just to name a few.”

“The remediation of brownfield sites are a win not only for the economy, but the environment as well,” Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Rob Klee said. “Brownfields are a wise choice for redevelopment, as they already have the infrastructure in place to support new growth, reduce the need to develop valuable open space, with the added benefit of cleaning up the environment.”