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September 18, 2023

City-owned downtown Waterbury office building sells; private redevelopment will tap $10M in state assistance 

PHOTO | COSTAR 36 North Main St., in Waterbury

A long-delayed effort to redevelop a decaying 40,000-square-foot office building in downtown Waterbury reached an important milestone Monday with its sale to a pair of New York investor-developers. 

The prominent building at 36 North Main St., on the east corner of Waterbury’s downtown Green, is slated for a $15 million private renovation. The University of Connecticut has committed to leasing much of the building for an expansion of its downtown campus.

“This is good news for downtown Waterbury,” Mayor Neil O’Leary said. “This will be a center for allied health. When you go out the back door you go right into the (UConn campus) quad. That was my vision. And frankly the timing couldn’t be better.” 

Monday’s $900,000 sale to Green Hub Development comes in the waning months of O’Leary’s last term. He chose not to stand for reelection in November, ending a record-setting 12-year run.

The former Odd Fellows building has stood vacant and neglected for years, occasionally attracting notoriety as police put a halt to illicit activities, including a cock fighting ring.

In O’Leary’s first weeks in office, he pulled the tax-delinquent property out of a city tax auction, seeing it as too important a site to leave to chance. The city later claimed the building for unpaid taxes and, in 2018, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration committed $10 million to subsidize redevelopment costs through a public-private partnership. 

Green Hub Development – a partnership of developer Joseph Grammando and financier Louis Forster – were selected through a request-for-proposals process in 2019.

The pair had previously renovated the upper two floors of the long vacant “Brown Building” near Waterbury’s UConn campus, turning it into rental dormitory-style housing for college students.

In 2018, Green Hub tackled another long-sought renovation of the former Howland Hughes Department Store in downtown Waterbury. Once a community hub, the 114,000-square-foot building had been largely vacant for years. 

Green Hub turned it into offices for Post University staff in a $15 million project made possible by a $7.7 million state subsidy. 

“Green Hub has been one of the strongest investors in the city in the past five years, between converting the Brown Building and rehabbing the Howland Hughes Building,” said attorney Gary O’Connor, who represents the investment duo. “This is another example of their commitment to the city and to downtown Waterbury.” 

In June, UConn committed to a 20-year lease of a 26,300-square-foot portion of the Odd Fellows building, with options to extend. That, along with a recently approved $250,000 subsidy by city taxpayers, was enough to get the purchase over the finish line on Monday. 

UConn plans to use the building for psychology, allied health and nursing programs beginning in January or August of 2025. Base rent will begin at $370,000 yearly.

O'Leary said University of Connecticut President Radenka Maric, Downtown Waterbury UConn campus Director Fumiko Hoeft, and UConn Board of Trustees member Thomas Ritter toured the former Odd Fellows Building on several occasions and were instrumental in making the lease and renovation possible. 



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