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January 25, 2022

Massive Amazon warehouse proposed for a site in Waterbury and Naugatuck

Contributed An aerial view of roughly 150 acres straddling the Waterbury and Naugatuck border that is the proposed site for a massive Amazon distribution facility.

A massive Amazon distribution facility with about 1,000 workers has been proposed for a 163-acre site straddling the Waterbury and Naugatuck border.

Officials from Waterbury, Naugatuck and the state announced Tuesday that developer Bluewater Property Group, of Conshohocken, Pa., has been selected to develop the site, which is owned by the city of Waterbury.

“I am proud of the collaborative work done here by the state, the city, the borough and the Naugatuck Valley Regional Development Corp.,” Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary said. “Much work is left to be done, but this could be an amazing win for our region and the entire state.”

Bluewater was one of two developers to respond to a request for development proposals the city released last year. Tuesday’s announcement means Bluewater’s proposal was picked by a selection committee.

Officials say the development represents an investment of “hundreds of millions” of dollars.

There is still a lot of work left to be done before the development is assured. Bluewater is still exploring site conditions and performing due diligence, officials report.

“There is a lot of work to do to make this potential project a reality, but we are excited at the opportunity to proceed to the next step,” said Alexandra Escamilla, head of development for Bluewater property Group, according to a release issued by Waterbury.

The founders of Bluewater were among the founders and senior management of KTR Capital Partners, a private equity fund that sold to real estate investment trust Prologis for $5.9 billion in May 2015.

If the developer moves ahead, the project must also clear local land-use boards and state traffic review. Local and state political leaders heavily favor the development, however.

Waterbury has floated various development schemes for the large, undeveloped, parcel over decades, including a mall, dog track and others. All fell flat, however, as steep terrain made the approach from Waterbury’s South Main Street difficult and costly.

Naugatuck Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess and O’Leary overcame that difficulty by agreeing to work collaboratively, allowing an access road to be pushed into the site through the Naugatuck Industrial Park.

“Working together, we are stronger, and the Waterbury-Naugatuck partnership will continue to yield benefits to the entire valley,” Hess said.

An agreement between the municipalities will split any resulting tax revenue evenly, although Waterbury would fully collect the proceeds of any sale of the land it owns on both sides of the city line.

A sale price for the land has not yet been determined. Negotiations between the city and Bluewater on a purchase agreement for the property are expected to conclude within two weeks, O’Leary said.

Prior Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration authorized a $2.8 million grant to defray the cost of building a road and installing utility lines into the 150-acre site. And the state continues to be a big supporter of the development.

“This project, if approved, has a tremendous upside for Waterbury, Naugatuck and residents throughout the region,” current Gov. Ned Lamont said. “It has the potential to create up to 1,000 new jobs and go a long way in supporting these communities in their broader revitalization efforts.”

U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes, D-5th District, speaking at a press conference announce the development Tuesday, said she was excited to see the long-sought redevelopment of the property nearing realization, and with it, the arrival of jobs. 

"For people in Waterbury these blue-collar jobs open the door to the middle class," Hayes said. 

O'Leary expressed confidence in the development's prospects, saying Bluewater has already performed much of its research on the site. He anticipates groundbreaking either in late spring or early summer. After that, construction is expected to last about 2.5 years, O'Leary said. 

Although designs have not been finalized, O'Leary anticipates the Amazon facility on the city's southern border to be similar in scope to the 855,000-square-foot Amazon fulfillment center that opened in North Haven in 2019. That facility yields $5 million in local taxes annually even with an ongoing tax stabilization agreement between the developer and town. 

Waterbury and Naugatuck are also working with Bluewater on a tax agreement, and the new development is also expected to yield about $5 million annually in taxes, O'Leary said. 

The project on the Naugatuck-Waterbury line is the second Amazon endeavor introduced to Waterbury. The city’s land-use boards have already signed off on a roughly 90,000-square-foot “last mile” Amazon distribution warehouse on an 18-acre site at 3800 East Main St. That project, under Trumbull-based developer FSI Acquisitions, is still pending state traffic approvals. 

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