Shelton expects big financial reward as Constitution Blvd. extension gets underway

'It is like an annuity'

SHELTON — The Constitution Boulevard West extension — long just a concept on paper — is now becoming a reality, and according to Mayor Mark Lauretti, it will bring financial benefits for years to come. 

Work began last month with blasting, earth moving and the demolition of two homes acquired by the city to allow for the roadway expansion. The road, once expanded, will allow development of the nearly 70 acres known as the Mas property, which has long been landlocked. 

And that is where the financial reward comes in, Lauretti said. 

“The initial benefit is the sale of the land,” said Lauretti looking over the work site Tuesday. “We paid $600,000 (in 1996) for the land, and it is probably going to bring in $6 million."

But the land's price is a minor part of the picture, Lauretti said.

“The more important thing is the tax revenue this will bring in for the next 40 years," he said. "That's key. It is like an annuity.” 

While the city purchased the Mas property from the FDIC in 1996, it was not until about two years ago that Lauretti presented a vision to the Planning and Zoning Commission for developing the site into a manufacturing hub for the region. 

“This parcel has been slated for economic development for decades,” said state Rep. Jason Perillo, who along with fellow Rep. Ben McGorty and state Sen. Kevin Kely, was instrumental in obtaining the $5 million from the state. 

“This access road is the first step toward hundreds of millions in grand list growth, which helps control taxes,” Perillo said. “As a kid, I remember when Constitution Boulevard South was built about a football field away from my house. It became a tremendous economic development corridor.” 

Over the past year, Lauretti said the city was able to reach deals to sell off all the property. The buyer list is headed by Bigelow Tea, which agreed to purchase 25 acres of the property for an estimated $2.1 million for its future expansion. 

Other companies agreeing to purchase land are ARP Welding, LLC, Constitution Manufacturing, Barone Ventures, LLC, Kyma, LLC, and Shelton-based Advanced Home Audio

“Now the onus is on the Planning and Zoning Commission to be smart about what they approve,” Perillo added. 

The price for the land ranges from $85,000 to $125,000 per acre to various groups for use in industrial and retail capacities. 

Lauretti said he placed the $85,000-per-acre price on the land after discussions with the city’s appraisal company. He described the acres being sold as raw land.

"There are no utilities, and its rough terrain. A lot of sitework will be needed" he said. "The price is reflected in the condition of the land." 

Lauretti said three of the sales are in the heart of the Mas property, but one parcel bordering Bridgeport Avenue carries the higher, $125,000 per acre price tag. The recent realignment of Constitution Boulevard allowed the city to sell to a retail operation because of the location along Bridgeport Avenue, Lauretti said. 

"People don’t understand the time and effort needed to be able to sell off the land in one year,” Lauretti said about his role in facilitating the land sales and working with state legislators in obtaining $5 million from Gov. Ned Lamont's administration to cover the work costs. 

Lauretti said he had to turn away some 10 interested bidders. 

"The economic cycle really drives this,” Lauretti said. “The pandemic forced a lot of people our way. It opened eyes about the benefits of coming to Shelton. That is when we knew we were ready. There was no better time than now.” 

Lauretti said he anticipates some 500 to 700 jobs coming to the city. 

Perillo said the road is also a step toward connecting Shelton Avenue to Route 8, which will relieve traffic downtown and in Huntington Center, he said. 

Lauretti said the remaining portion of the extension is also on the agenda, with talks underway with the state to obtain an additional $3 million for that work. 

“It is going to happen sometime next year, (or) sometime later this year,” Lauretti said of that portion of the extension.