Following a week after the Connecticut State House of Representatives passed a special tax zone and brownfield remediation legislation to aid the development of the long dormant 78 acre Army Engine Plant (AKA: AVCO), the State Senate followed suit and passed legislation, which now moves to Governor Malloy's desk. This legislation is considered a key step in providing public policy support for the development of the property. All five members of the Stratford delegation supported and applauded the passage of the bill. The delegation includes Senator Kevin Kelly (R-21), Senator Andres Ayala, Jr. (D-23), Representative Laura Hoydick (R-120), Representative Terry Backer (D-121) and Representative Lawrence Miller (R-122).
"Today's achievement brings us one step closer to breathing life into Point Stratford," said Sen. Kelly. "With a clear plan to financing infrastructure improvements we can move forward with remediation, redevelopment and progress. This will grow a new neighborhood, complete with residential areas and space for recreation and commerce. It is time to bring jobs to Stratford and transform unused space into a center for business, entertainment and growth for years to come."
"The Army Engine Plant at Point Stratford was once the largest employer in the town of Stratford," said Rep. Hoydick. "The passage of this measure by both the House and Senate moves us one step closer to allowing Stratford to have the ability to revitalize this location for public use. It opens the door for an exciting opportunity for economic expansion in Stratford, creating jobs and improving the quality of life in the area."
"Stratford has waited 20 years to see this property return to productive use and this is another positive step in that direction," said Rep. Backer. "This bill helps in the redevelopment of these 80 acres and hopefully employment, housing and grand list expansion."
"This bill offers Stratford a tremendous opportunity of economic and developmental renewal for the Point Stratford location," said Rep. Miller. "The benefits to Stratford will include employment opportunities and broadening of the local tax base which will offer meaningful relief to local taxpayers."
"The Stratford Army Engine Plant is a landmark in this community, and I am glad that we will be able to return it to prominence," said Sen. Ayala. "This is a great example of how we don't need to tear down the past to build a vibrant new area that will attract businesses to the area and allow for the construction of new housing for Stratford families. Cleaning up this dilapidated area will create an important new hub that will serve to beautify the community and improve the lives of all our Stratford neighbors."
Redevelopment has been a key priority area for the Mayor John Harkins, who was part of negotaations as early as 2012 with the Point Stratford team, and helped provide support for a deal that was signed between the U.S. Army and Point Stratford. . Harkins also applauded the accomplishment this morning. "The redevelopment of the Stratford Army Engine Plant has been a top priority of my administration. The passage of this legislation brings us another step closer to the successful completion of an economic development project that will benefit Stratford and our region. My thanks to the entire state legislative delegation for shepherding this initiative through the Legislature," said Mayor Harkins.
The renewal plans include redeveloping the Army Engine Plant area into mixed use space with both commercial and residential development.
The approved legislation will allow the district to levy taxes and issue bonds in an effort to help finance a successful redevelopment of the current brownfield site. Redevelopment includes everything from road construction, sewage systems, environmental remediation and other infrastructure improvements. The legislation also requires the district to enter into an interlocal agreement with the Town of Stratford, approved by the town council, before issuing any bonds. The bonds used to fund the project would not be considered debt of the State of Connecticut or the Town of Stratford. They would be backed by either the full faith and credit of the district or by district fees, revenues or benefit assessments, and would be paid for by property taxes from the project collected through the district's power to assess, levy and collect taxes and benefit assessments on the land and buildings located within the district.
The legislation that established such a tax district is based on previous special acts which authorized the creation of improvement districts in Stamford, Bridgeport, Windsor, Southington and East Hartford.
Financing will be used to support the work of Point Stratford Renewal (PSR), the developer who agreed to terms with the Army in October to purchase the engine plant property. PSR is a collaboration of three Connecticut companies: Loureiro Properties LLC, Development Resources LLC and Sedgwick Partners LLC.
Once signed by the governor, the legislation will take effect in July of this year, which is the start of the new fiscal year 2014-2015.