8 Connecticut communities win $36.5 million to revitalize downtown economies, boost quality of life and add affordable housing

On December 20, 2022, the State of Connecticut awarded approximately $36.5 million in grants to eight cities and towns under the second round of his administration’s recently launched Connecticut Communities Challenge Grant program.

Administered by the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), the program was created in 2021 with the purpose of funding a wide range of revitalization projects that will spur the growth of thousands of new jobs.

It’s an important component of Governor Ned Lamont’s Economic Action Plan, a strategic package of initiatives that total more than $750 million over five years and is matched approximately dollar-for-dollar by private, non-state funding that will result in a projected 80,000 new jobs.

These projects will bring foot traffic, mixed-use environments, and a significant number of new housing units to eight Connecticut communities,” DECD Deputy Commissioner Alexandra Daum said.

These investments are focused on in-fill opportunities in downtown and main street areas with existing centers of development and activity. In addition to increasing the livability of our communities, stimulating transit-oriented development is another key goal of this program. Many of the awards under this second round will go to projects located within a quick walk from transit options, helping to get Connecticut residents off the roads and onto our excellent transit system,” she added.

The grants under this second round will leverage approximately $143.5 million in non-state, private dollars and will support projects that improve the livability, vibrancy, and equity of communities throughout the state.

Consistent with the goals of the program, more than half of the funding will be invested in distressed municipalities.

The first round of grants under this program was released in April and included $45 million to support projects in 12 towns and cities. A third round is expected to launch in the first quarter of 2023.

The grants awarded under this second round include:

  • Berlin ($1,560,947 grant award; $3,630,177 total project cost; 848 and 880 Farmington Avenue and 362 Main Street): The Town of Berlin and its private partner, Newport Realty Group LLC, will construct ten mixed-income rental units at Newport Center, located directly across from the train station, half of which will be affordable to families making less than 80% of the area median income (AMI). With additional partners, including the Meriden-New Britain-Berlin YMCA, the Kensington Volunteer Fire Department, the Berlin Board of Education, the Cromwell Board of Education, and the Berlin Land Trust, funds will also support improvements to enhance the pedestrian live/work experience, including pedestrian access and open space walking trails.
  • Fairfield ($3 million grant award; $10 million total project cost; Grasmere Avenue between Ardmore Street and Post Road): In partnership with the Town of Fairfield, funds will support replacement of a 2,800-foot section of sewer line, which serves 60% of the town, enabling further development of the Fairfield Metro transit-oriented community. The resultant development following completion of the infrastructure improvements will include at least 357 new housing units (20% of which will be affordable); a 118-key hotel; 70,000 square feet of commercial office space; and 40,000 square feet of retail space.
  • Groton ($8,465,000 grant award; $81,364,576 total project cost; 1 Governors Circle, 65 Governors Circle, 58 Fort Hill Road, 150 Fort Hill Road, 185 Fort Hill Road, and 65 Depot Road): The Town of Groton will partner with private partners Groton Housing Authority and Rogers Development, LLC to build multiple mixed-use developments to redevelop riverfront or river-adjacent, underutilized lots in downtown Groton to meet that area’s housing shortage. The development will result in 256 new units, including 51 affordable units; various infrastructure and pedestrian access improvements, including bikeways and a pedestrian bridge; and new public recreation space.
  • Hartford ($5.5 million grant award; $16,722,848 total project cost; 17-35 Bartholomew Avenue): The City of Hartford will partner with 17-35 Bartholomew Ave, LLC to build on the recent successes begun within the Parkville Arts and Innovation District Initiative. The development will result in a new multi-level building with first floor commercial spaces and 57 apartments (30% affordable). Design for the development is planned to maximize use of the adjacent CTfastrak station.
  • Naugatuck ($6 million grant award; $17.3 million total project cost; Rubber Avenue, New South Water Street, Old Firehouse Road, Church Street, and Maple Streets): The Borough of Naugatuck and its private partner, Pennrose LLC, will provide infrastructure and site improvements to a large, underutilized parcel located 500 feet from the downtown green and directly adjacent to the site of the borough’s forthcoming train station. Pennrose and the borough plan to develop the parcel with 180 housing units (80% of which will be affordable at various income levels), as well as 7,320 square feet of commercial space.
  • New Britain ($4 million grant award; $17,538,354 total project cost; 102 West Main Street): The City of New Britain, in partnership with Avon at 102 LLC, will redevelop a historic mixed-use building to include 79 residential units (20% of which will be affordable at various income levels); a street-fronting restaurant suite; and a rooftop restaurant and bar. The building’s existing historic brick envelope will be retrofitted to accommodate the new residential units. The project is located within a quarter mile of the downtown New Britain CTfastrak station.
  • Stamford ($2.7 million grant award; $4.1 million total project cost; 0 Walton Place and 80 Prospect Street): The City of Stamford in partnership with Walton Place LLC will provide infrastructure improvements that result in 247 units of housing in downtown Stamford (23 of which will be affordable units for families making 45% of AMI). Upgrades will include stormwater infrastructure relocation, park and public space upgrades, and pedestrian safety improvements. This project will significantly increase the number of available units in close proximity to mass transit, while also making key infrastructure improvements to enhance the pedestrian experience.
  • Torrington ($5,278,470.65 grant award; $32,246,949.65 total project cost; 136 and 190 Water Street and 168 Church Street): The City of Torrington and its private partners, the YMCA, Water Street Healthcare Group LLC, and the Naugatuck Railroad, will complete a multi-faceted revitalization project within the Water Street Historic District. The project includes adaptive reuse of a former factory building to a large-scale marketplace, and offices in a later phase; promoting multi-modal transportation and increased access to public transportation through extension of a greenway, improved bus access, and repair to the historic train station platform; a new outdoor recreation facility for the YMCA; and brownfield remediation.

We created this grant program as a component of our efforts to spur economic growth and the creation of new jobs as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Governor Lamont said.

Each of these approved state grants are going toward projects that improve the livability and quality of life in communities and will make these neighborhoods even more attractive for private investments and opportunities for residents,” he continued.

Photo of downtown Fairfield, CT courtesy of the City of Fairfield.

Learn more about the Connecticut Communities Challenge Grant program.

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