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December 6, 2022

Long-stalled downtown Southington mixed-use development springs to life with $1.35M land sale

A rendering showing Meridian Development Partners' vision for redevelopment of 14 acres near downtown Southington. The plan stalled and the property sold to a new development team earlier this month.

A Branford-based developer is promising to build hundreds of apartments and retail space on a 14-acre former factory site in downtown Southington following a sale of the property earlier this month.

“It’s a great area,” Developer Michael Massimino said. “There is a major demand for luxury multifamily with a mixed-use component where people can live, work and play.”

Ideal Forging used to employ hundreds at the development site, which is located between High, Mill, Water and Center streets on the western edge of downtown Southington. Today, the popular Farmington Canal Heritage Trail cuts through a corner of the property.

In 2006, the site was acquired by New York-based Meridian Development Partners. The company was able to access a $1.5 million state brownfield loan and $3 million in state brownfield cleanup grants, and demolished most of the complex on the site.

Meridian’s plan to build hundreds of condos and apartments stalled amid the 2008 recession, Southington Economic Development Director Louis A. Perillo III said. There have been approved modifications to plans, but Meridian did not move forward.

On its website, Meridian said its “Greenway Commons” development in Southington would include 245 residences and 22,500 square feet of retail, a 6-acre park and exhibition space in a restored pumphouse.

Perillo said he has been talking with Massimino for more than six months about his plans to take over the project.

The properties that comprise the site – 167, 195 and 217 Center St., along with 66 High St. – sold for $1.35 million to 195 Center Street Associates LLC, of Branford, and R&R Southington

The former Ideal Forging site, 14 acres on the edge of downtown Southington, is the focus of a development plan involving hundreds of luxury apartments mixed with retail space.

Ventures LLC, of Somerville, Massachusetts, in a quitclaim deed logged by Southington on Dec. 2.

The principal of 195 Center Street Associates is Joseph Iamunno, of Branford, according to state business records. The principal of R&R Southington Ventures is Richard Di Girolamo, of Somerville. Iamunno is a sales associate with William Raveis. Di Girolamo is an attorney.

Massimino said he and Di Girolamo are partners on the project, which he said will be primarily luxury apartments with a retail component. He said the development team is currently updating Meridian’s admittedly dated plans. He expects to break ground in the first half of 2023. The project will be built in phases and could extend from two to five years, he said.

The Southington property cost Massimino and his partner much more than $1.35 million. They also had to agree to take on the balance of the millions in brownfield loans borrowed by Meridian. Massimino acknowledged taking on the debt. He also anticipates another $10 million to $13 million in cleanup required on-site. Massimino said the balance of that cleanup would be covered by developer equity, not state funds.

The new development will have all the modern amenities, including rooftop lounge access, a fitness center, dog park and coworking space, Massimino said. As designs are ongoing, he does not have a precise cost estimate, but said it will “definitely” cost in excess of $65 million.

Southington will do what it can to help with the high remediation cost, including a 10-year tax abatement, Perillo said.

The new apartments, bringing hundreds of residents, will be a tremendous boon for downtown businesses, Perillo said.  He is also excited by Massimino’s confidence and eagerness to proceed.

“It is a crucial parcel for our downtown,” Perillo said. “We are very happy it’s moving forward. We think the environment is still strong for rental units. We feel our downtown is certainly attractive.” 

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