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September 27, 2022

New state board allocates $76.4M for economic development; Middletown, New Haven, Waterbury big winners

Michael Puffer | Hartford Business Journal A new state board helping direct bonding funds has recommended giving Waterbury $10 million to complete cleanup of roughly 20 acres at the former Anaconda American Brass site near the city's downtown.

The Community Investment Fund 2030 board – a new group led by top lawmakers – approved $76.4 million in state grants Tuesday for development and community projects in distressed municipalities.

Middletown is in line for $12 million to fund its "Return to the Riverbend" plan, an effort to make better connections with parkland and redevelop industrial, commercial and waste treatment sites along the Connecticut River. 

Waterbury is teed up to get $10 million, which local officials say is enough to finish cleaning a roughly 20-acre brownfield adjacent to its downtown. The administration has already spent millions upgrading roadways and other infrastructure, as well as demolishing abandoned buildings in the area. The hope is for an ambitious redevelopment. 

New Haven is the other big winner, with a $10 million allocation Tuesday. 

This list of projects blessed by the Community Investment Fund 2030 board now needs Gov. Ned Lamont’s approval to go on the state Bond Commission Agenda for funding. But no cuts are anticipated.

“We certainly don’t anticipate rejection or amendments because it’s been well vetted and worked out,” House Speaker Matt Ritter, D-Hartford, told the CIF board Tuesday. “But he ultimately is the governor. So, in theory, until he says 100% yes, there could be changes and feedback to this group.”

Approved by lawmakers last year, the Community Investment Fund Board has a mandate to approve up to $875 million in projects and grants in distressed communities over a five-year period.

Ritter co-chairs the CIF board with Senate President Pro Tem. Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven.

Under the 2021 law, funding priorities will be decided by a 21-member board that includes 10 state lawmakers; nine heads of state offices and commissions, or their designees; and two appointees by the governor.

The Department of Economic and Community Development received 183 applications asking for about $900 million.

Gov. Ned Lamont will have 60 days from receipt of the CIF list to pass along to the Bond Commission. Members of the CIF board asked Ritter to postpone sending that list, allowing more time during a busy fall season that includes elections.

The CIF board did approve opening a second application round from Nov. 1 through Jan. 6.

DECD staff were not able to supply details of the approved projects Tuesday. The names and amounts approved by the CIF Board were published online with the meeting agenda. Lawmakers started issuing statements celebrating the funding Tuesday afternoon. 

Waterbury lawmakers issued a release celebrating $10 million that will allow them to "finalize" demolition and cleanup at 20 acres along the city's Freight Street corridor. Adjacent to downtown and near access to highways and rail, the site once served Anaconda American Brass.

"This funding approved in the inaugural round of the Community Investment Fund will enable the city to boost the completion of a reimagined Freight Street District, culminating in hundreds of mixed-use and commercial jobs in a previously blighted and abandoned industrial wasteland," said State Sen. Joan V. Hartley, D-Waterbury, according to the release. Hartley thanked the board, other Waterbury lawmakers and Waterbury Mayor Neil O'Leary for advocating for the funding. 

Middletown leaders separately issued a release, praising funding for their effort to reconnect to 220 acres of riverfront separated from its downtown by Route 9 or occupied by industrial development and the city's former wastewater treatment plant. 

"This project, with potential that is almost immeasurable, will serve our residents and connect our neighborhoods to the riverfront," State Sen. Matt Lesser, D-Middletown, said, according to a release. "The Connecticut River is the beating heart of our region. This historic investment in Middletown's riverfront will be transformative for our region and Middletown's future." 

State Sen. Doug McCrory, D-Hartford, also issued a release late Tuesday, celebrating $5.5 million that will help Bloomfield build a new library in place of the current Prosser Library. 

In East Hartford, the $2.5 million will aid a city plan to acquire and redevelop a problematic rooming house in the center of town.

The list of recipients approved Tuesday includes:

  • Asylum Hill Neighborhood Association, Hartford, $1,247,038
  • Baldwin Holdings Bridgeport, $1,756,164
  • BIMEC Housing Development, New Haven, $2,132,250
  • City of Ansonia, Ansonia, $6,500,000
  • City of Meriden - 85 Tremont/Locust Street Project, Meriden, $3,000,000
  • City of Middletown - Remediation & Demolition, Middletown, $12,000,000
  • City of New Haven - 596-598 George Street Project, New Haven, $1,500,000
  • City of Waterbury - Freight Steet Demo/Remediation Waterbury $ 10,000,000
  • CitySeed, Inc New Haven, $1,092,500
  • CONNCORP New Haven, $10,000,000
  • Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen, New Haven, $500,000
  • East Main St. Revitalization Association, - planning, Bridgeport, $750,000
  • Fair Haven Community Health Clinic New Haven, $3,000,000
  • International Hartford, Hartford, $1,137,514
  • Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), statewide, $1,000,000
  • MATCH Inc., New Haven, $780,000
  • NCDC - Reid and Hughes – Norwich, $550,000
  • New Haven Jewish Community Council Housing Corp. – planning, New Haven $155,000
  • New Reach, Inc. New Haven, $312,619
  • North Hartford Collaborative Hartford, $4,500,000
  • Sheldon Oak Central, Inc Hartford $3,750,000
  • Town of Bloomfield - Library Bloomfield $5,526,000
  • Town of East Hartford - Church Corners, East Hartford, $2,500,000
  • Town of Hamden - drainage – planning, Hamden, $750,000
  • Town of Stratford, Stratford $1,600,000
  • Winsted Health Center – planning, Winsted $438,750

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