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Abandoned CT properties to be converted to hundreds of apartments, creating jobs, officials say

FILE: Construction workers on the job at the Colonial Village public housing complex in Norwalk, June 2022, where 200 apartments are being renovated and 69 more will be built.
Ryan Caron King
Connecticut Public
FILE: Construction workers on the job at the Colonial Village public housing complex in Norwalk, June 2022, where 200 apartments are being renovated and 69 more will be built.

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Several run-down properties in Connecticut are in the process of transforming into hundreds of apartments and job opportunities, as the state works to fix up everything from old paper and textile mills to former greyhound racetracks.

Twenty-two blighted properties statewide will be remediated using nearly $26.3 million in state investment and $112.7 million in private investments. The properties are spread across 17 towns and cities.

“This state program enables us to partner with municipalities and developers to bring these lifeless properties back from the dead,” Gov. Ned Lamont said in a statement.

The properties were chosen as part of the Brownfield Remediation and Development Program run by the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD). Brownfield remediation involves cleaning up or demolishing abandoned properties and repurposing the site, which may involve decontaminating former factory land or rehabbing existing housing.

The state looks for ways to bring property value and use back to the areas, DECD Deputy Commissioner Matthew Pugliese said.

“There are different awards that are towards housing as an end use,” Pugliese said. “Some are towards mixed use. One is to create a behavioral health clinic with a significant expansion, and another one is for a public park.”

Improving neighborhoods

Four of the projects will be developed into housing, creating 373 apartments. Of the new housing, 148 units will be considered affordable, according to a statement by Lamont.

The new housing will be in Berlin, New Haven, Norwalk and Vernon.

In Norwalk, a decades-old public housing complex will be demolished and replaced with 55 new apartments. Meadow Gardens demolition is set for this summer, using about $3.3 million in brownfield remediation funding to revamp the site.

Underserved communities are prioritized when considering properties for remediation, Pugliese said.

“We want to be able to preserve green space in development, and we want to be able to redevelop these underused, contaminated and blighted parcels and put them back into productive use for the state,” Pugliese said.

Creating opportunities 

About 1,400 jobs will be generated as part of the remediation, state officials estimate, including temporary construction-related positions and employment opportunities at businesses opening in the new properties.

Along with housing, remediated properties will be transformed into public parks, sports stadiums, construction of a museum and a behavioral health clinic, among other developments. Lamont touted the success of the plan.

“Nobody wants to have old, polluted, and blighted properties in their neighborhood that sit vacant for decades,” Lamont said. “Especially when that land could be used to grow new businesses and create housing for people who need it.”

Abigail is Connecticut Public's housing reporter, covering statewide housing developments and issues, with an emphasis on Fairfield County communities. She received her master's from Columbia University in 2020 and graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2019. Abigail previously covered statewide transportation and the city of Norwalk for Hearst Connecticut Media. She loves all things Disney and cats.