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New Britain Future Development... Rell expects commission to accept $1M grant

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Rell expects commission to accept $1M grant

By: Scott Whipple, Herald Staff

03/23/2007

Gov. M. Jodi Rell said Thursday a $1 million Urban Act grant to the city of New Britain is expected to gain approval when the state Bond Commission meets March 30.

The grant will help pay for the demolition of vacant buildings located on the 60-acre former Pinnacle Heights public-housing property on Slater Road. State funds will be used for environmental testing, demolition, site preparation, design and engineering, architectural and administrative costs associated with the project.

"This project is a key part of the efforts to spark new economic growth in New Britain," Rell said. "In fact, Mayor Tim Stewart has called it the biggest economic development opportunity for the city in 30 years."

The governor stressed that New Britain "has big plans for this space, but to move ahead they must first take down the old buildings on the site and build landscape buffers between the project and the surrounding neighborhood."

"With this project and its plans for downtown redevelopment, New Britain is truly on the march," she said. "Projects like these show just how much cities and towns can accomplish by reimagining existing sites - already located where the people are, where the jobs are needed and where the tax base can use the support - as opposed to developing open space."

Stewart told The Herald the project has been "a lengthy and costly one. We're excited we're at the point where we can get this parcel of land developed for sale. We appreciate the governor's support in our economic-development efforts."

Development of Pinnacle Heights began with environmental assessment abatement to be followed by demolition, then marketing of the site for redevelopment: commercial, industrial, office professional and retail.

"We're looking at a lot of different options," Stewart said. "The zoning will have to be amended to allow some of these uses. That's pretty much what we're looking at right now."

The mayor added that there has been interest in the site because of its proximity to Route I-84.

"We've had financial institutions making inquiries," he said. "I've also had some retail, big-box institutions talking to me about some of the properties. Metro Hartford has been helping us market the site.

"The best thing is the state acknowledges it's a significant economic development for us by giving us this million dollars."

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Those projects are horrible. I had a friend who lived there (in the 80's) and I really hated to go over there to visit. They can't be knocked down soon enough.....

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Those projects are horrible. I had a friend who lived there (in the 80's) and I really hated to go over there to visit. They can't be knocked down soon enough.....

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The Pinnacle Heights property has enormous potential given its proximity to I-84. In the article Stewart mentioned big-box retail interest in the site. I think keeping the area residential would work better. If it wanted to, the city could steer big box development along the Route 372 and West Main Street corridors.

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