Monday, September 12, 2011

EDC Deals w/ Vacant Property, Proposed Sportsplex

The city might finally have a plan and purpose for a nuisance property on Portland Street.

The now-vacant lot at 20 Portland Street had been occupied by a derelict residential building which the city finally took possession of and demolished several months ago. Since then, they have been seeking a use for the property. At its monthly meeting on September 12th, the Economic Development Committee approved a proposal by Joseph Salamone of Peyton Properties, which owns #18 Portland Street next door. Under the proposal, the site would be split between a driveway for Salamone's tenants and a community garden maintained by the North End Action Team (NEAT).

NEAT's Executive Director, Izzi Greenberg noted "We would rather not own the property, we'd rather have the city own it with NEAT responsible for the liability and upkeep." If the city continues to own the property, it would grant easements to Peyton Properties and NEAT. The committee also discussed selling the lot to Peyton, which would then lease it to NEAT. The proposal was approved with the stipulation that the city attorney would determine the best method of having the parties share the lot.

Committee chairman Gerald Daley noted that the proposal solved two neighborhood problems: a lack of off-street parking and a lack of green space. Member Joe Bibisi said "There are a lot of kids down there, maybe 30 kids with no green grass. There's no place for them except the street."

Committee member David Bauer wondered if there might be another future use for the property, since the city has already incurred an estimated $140,000 dealing with the lot. Bauer was the lone dissenter in the vote on the proposal. "We're not so flush with cash that we can't think about what is best for the grand list", he said.

The committee also heard from two Rocky Hill men seeking help in renovating a former manufacturing building into an indoor athletics training facility.

Gary Sekorski and Glenn Rowland plan to lease the former Mohawk Manufacturing building at 1270 Newfield Street (next to NAPA Auto Parts) and convert it into the "Advanced Sportsplex Training Center". They've obtained a Small Business Administration loan, but less than they applied for. So, Sekorski said "We're standing here to say 'what can the city do to help a new business stay in business?'"

The two coaches-turned-businessmen said they would be investing $685,000 to convert the building shell, mostly with 'leaseholder improvements' such as lights, air-conditioning, and installing an artificial turf field.

The Sportsplex would offer young athletes and youth leagues instruction, training, and practice facilties. Rowland said the new business might provide as many as 30 full- and part-time jobs for instructors, referees, concession stand workers and others.

The committee unanimously approved a 3-year partial tax abatement for the complex, which Sekorski and Rowland hope to open by December 1st.

After meeting in executive session, the committee also unanimously approved a modified repayment schedule for The Inn At Middletown, extending the current schedule by two years.

Finally, the next meeting of the committee was rescheduled for Tuesday October 11th because of the Columbus Day holiday.

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