I’m not against redevelopment.
I just have this odd notion that it should, in a best case scenario, directly benefit the denizens of a neighborhood. At worst, it shouldn’t force them to relocate due to rising costs and desirability.
That said, meet the latest and greatest redevelopment project in my neighborhood.
The seven acre site was originally the local home of CT Transit, our public bus service. The building was built in 1950 and abandoned in September 2010 when a new garage and office was built further up the road in the next town over.
Moving the bus depot really wasn’t a loss for the neighborhood. The property was tax exempt and the entire site is fenced in, topped with barbed wire. A real friendly welcome to the area when you get off the highway exit that borders the property.
It’s a very odd site. A triangle of land boxed in by I91 and two decrepit railroad bridges.
The new owners are going to knock down the back half of the building in order to remove the contamination and build a parking lot for their future tenants. It’s going to be a tech hub, beer garden, pricey gym and maker space. At least Mal is happy about the maker space. He’s already a member and won’t have to walk as far once they move.
The only other proposal for the site would have been a parking garage and grocery store linked to a shopping mall in the industrial dinosaur across the street.
Being completely honest here, I was the neighborhood representative on the committee that reviewed the R.F.P.’s. I didn’t particularly like either plan, but one was going to happen and the former was the lesser of two evils. It was also the one favored by everyone else on the committee. There was no point in voting no.
I remember looking at the prospective developers shoes during the presentations and thinking that they probably cost more than my car is worth. Does a person who wears shoes like that really care about the preexisting neighbors in an area ripe for a make-over? I don’t think it really occurred to any of them that we wouldn’t all be thrilled to pieces with the boon they are bestowing upon us.
The developers say the fences are coming down and the neighborhood will have access to the Mill River.
Maybe the state or the feds will finally clean up the river while they’re at it?
Now that would be some welcome redevelopment.