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February 3, 2023

Blend of industrial, commercial uses sought to revive long-dormant 16-acre retail complex in Waterbury

Michael Puffer | Hartford Business Journal Colonial Plaza, Waterbury.

Local investors who bought Waterbury’s long-struggling Colonial Plaza last year are now asking city officials to allow industrial development in a 59-acre area encompassing the 16-acre property along Thomaston Avenue.

The change sought by 155 Connecticut LLC – a limited liability company formed by Cornerstone Realty – would open the commercially zoned area to several additional uses, including, e-commerce logistics, warehousing, manufacturing, industrial services, wireless telecommunications facilities, along with commercial energy and storage facilities.

Cornerstone is a real estate investment offshoot of the prominent Waterbury-based metals recycler Albert Bros. Acting through the 155 Connecticut LLC, Cornerstone paid $4.8 million for the largely empty, 224,810-square-foot retail complex on Thomaston Avenue in September.

At the time, Cornerstone Realty Vice President Jake Albert said a “comprehensive” overhaul would be undertaken to help attract tenants, and that his company was contemplating longer-term options.

Now, 155 Connecticut LLC has submitted applications to the Zoning Commission asking for modifications to the “commercial industrial overlay district,” which would then be applied to the 16-acre Colonial Plaza property and several abutting properties – totaling another 43 acres – along Thomaston Avenue.
Albert, in an emailed response to an inquiry from the Hartford Business Journal this week, wrote the application will add “significant value” to the property, consistent with Cornerstone’s goal of adding jobs and resulting in additional tax revenue for the city.

Albert wrote that Cornerstone has begun renovations, including extensive façade work, painting, installation of “comprehensive” video surveillance and upgrades to signage, Albert wrote.

Cornerstone owns more than 2.2 million square feet of commercial property, 1.2 million of which is in Waterbury, Albert noted.

“We are proud of our company’s history of revitalizing formerly highly distressed commercial properties in Waterbury into fully renovated, high quality, commercial assets,” Albert wrote.

City Planner Robert Nerney said the changes would allow a blend of commercial and industrial uses that coexist well, such as a manufacturer that could have an on-site retail arm for their product. Nerney said Cornerstone has not presented any specific development plan to the city.

“In talking to us they seem committed to upgrading the center, but in a way they will be able to have greater options in terms of introducing uses in a responsible and safe fashion,” Nerney said. 

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