223 Canal Street project moving forward

The Board of Alderman voted to approve an agreement to have the State of Connecticut fund more than 75 percent of the million dollar economic development project at 223 Canal Street.
During the BOA April 14 meeting, the board approved an agreement entitled the Assistance Agreement by and between the State of Connecticut under the Department of Economic Development. The board’s approval grants Shelton $875,000 for the 223 Canal Street site. The money would go towards demolition remediation and redevelopment project.

Gov. Dannel Malloy’s office announced in February that it was awarding a total of $8.7 million to 16 towns to help fund assessment and remediation efforts of blighted properties.

The Canal Street project will cost $1,080,000 in total. The BOA approved appropriating the remaining $205,000 to cover cost not eligible by the initial grant, which includes state and legal cost, administrative cost, reporting requirements, and other items not covered by the State. The $205,000 will come from a Canal Street Referendum.

During the meeting, Alderman Jim Capra addressed the Mayor with questions.

“How's the project with the Chromium Plant, and if there are any plans for the Conte building to get renovated,”Capra said.

Lauretti told the board that changes will soon begin, but that the history of downtown Shelton has been a long time coming.

‘’The whole downtown process is slow,” Lauretti said. “If you think it's slow after six months, I've been sitting here for 25 years beating this drum and having to deal with a lot of bureaucracy from the railroad to the State, from the Federal government to all the environmentalist, put your seat belts on; you’re in for a long ride.”

The Mayor said the progress to get the Chromium building off the ground was slow because the bids came in high the first time because of speculation of contaminants was unknown; however he said that has changed.

Lauretti also said there hasn't been projects on Howe Avenue for over forty years, noting that Conte's has been in and out of zoning throughout the year. However, the Mayor said that Conte has also made aesthetic changes outside the building and that the City is pushing them to repair the sidewalk, and the city has had discussions with Eversource to lease land across from the Ascot Club Bar & Grill to make 150 parking spaces.

The Mayor addressed the available funds for improving Canal Street.

“The grant that we just received and the approval you gave for the grant for $875,000 came as a result as of having to shift gears on how we are going to deal with the reconstruction of Canal Street,” Lauretti said.

He also acknowledged developer John Geudes role in obtaining the needed funds for the project.

“John Geudes came in with a proposal for zoning and got it approved, and that sweetened the deal with the State to come up with economic development money to the tune of $875, 000,” Lauretti said. “There is progress. There is progress. There's nothing like seeing a shovel in the ground, and it's conceivable that you will see a couple of shovels in the ground in a couple of locations this year.”

After the meeting, Alderman Jack Finn commented on the vote to work with the DECD to improve the Canal Street are in downtown Shelton.

“I'm pleased,” Finn said, “The fact that the economic development has been slow downtown, but now it’s starting to move forward, not only with 223 Canal Street, but with the update with the Chromium Process building.”

Finn said that the city the obtained ownership of the Chromium Process Company building and its intention is to demolish the building and then build parking spaces downtown. He said it has to be an encased project due to the contaminants in the ground. However, the current $875,000 is slated only for the 223 Canal Street Project.