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August 2, 2021

Developer pitches $50M mixed-use redevelopment for former Ames property in Rocky Hill

Contributed A Hamden developer is proposing a mixed-use redevelopment at the site of the former Ames corporate office in Rocky Hill.

Just months after the state Bond Commission approved $500,000 to help finance the demolition of the long-vacant Ames corporate office in Rocky Hill, a new grand vision to redevelop the site is coming into clearer focus.

Hamden-based developer the Belfonti Cos. LLC is proposing a $50-million mixed-use project that would include 180 apartment units and 20,000 square feet of retail and commercial office space. 

The so-called “Village of Rocky Hill” would create a new town center destination with nine mixed-use residential buildings, according to Michael Belfonti, founder and CEO of Belfonti Cos.

Michael Belfonti

“The vision and the goal is to revitalize downtown Rocky Hill,” Belfonti said. “It’ s mixed-use development intended to create a vibrant pedestrian and bike-friendly downtown area.”

Vacant since 2002, the 180,000-square-foot building on Main Street is an eyesore at the heart of the town and provides a sorry backdrop to civic parades and other events, town officials have said. Rehab proposals have come and gone over the years, but the remediation of the asbestos-tainted structure has been a key hang up. 

The state stepped in to help push redevelopment efforts forward with its approval in April of the $500,000 grant to help fund demolition.
Rocky Hill Mayor Lisa J. Marotta said the proposed development project fits well with the town’s plan of conservation and development. 

Mayor Lisa J. Marotta

“I think his vision really coincides with what the town is looking for in that section of town,” she said. “That site has been a blighted eyesore for many years.”

Marotta said the town is trying to pursue further state investment in the form of brownfield remediation funds of up to $1 million to help clean up the site. 

She also said the town would be interested in providing further incentives for the project in the form of a tax abatement.

Belfonti said the project still needs town site plan approvals and he envisions a groundbreaking, if all goes well, sometime next year. 

The project would be financed through equity and a bank loan, he said, adding that 10% of the residential units will be set aside for affordable/workforce housing. 

In addition the property would contain several garage buildings and a clubhouse/leasing office.

The development would be pedestrian friendly and offer green space, including a park. 

Belfonti isn’t new to development projects in Greater Hartford. He and his team are putting finishing touches on a 160-unit luxury apartment development in Cromwell, known as The Landon of Cromwell. 

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