Waste Site Cleanup & Reuse in New England
Here Comes the Neighborhood: Vacant Land in New London, CT Reclaimed for New "Green" Condos
Success in EPA Brownfields Assessment Grant Program
New London, CT
(January 5, 2005)
Home to many different businesses over the years -- including a coal yard, grocery stores, and a tube manufacturer -- 334-400 Bank St. in New London, Connecticut has been vacant and neglected for decades. Thanks in part to EPA Brownfields Assessment Grant Program, soon owners of luxury condominiums built with environmentally-friendly "green" designs will be able to call 400 Bank Street home.
Redevelopment attempts began as early as the 1970s when the property came under the control of the New London Redevelopment Agency. By the end of the 1970s, with the exception of one building, the site had been cleared and was awaiting the right business to move in. Under an agreement with the Redevelopment Agency, Abbott's Seafood began operations on the site. However, by the late 80s Abbott's had closed and the property was returned to the city. Since that time, the vacant building has suffered significant deterioration and the downtown site has been used only as a parking lot.
In December of 1998, a request for proposals (RFP) was put out by the New London Development Corporation and Oaktree Green, LLC was selected as the developer. Using approximately $100,000 in Brownfields Assessment Program funding, the environmental problems at the site were investigated through a Phase I and subsequent Phase II environmental investigation. Contamination, mainly petroleum and contaminants from an offsite dry cleaner, were documented and a remedial action plan was developed. Since the initial RFP, Oaktree Green has invested significant funds in the property and is moving quickly to complete the redevelopment.
The groundbreaking was held on August 6, 2004. The site use plan calls for the construction of 120 market-rate condominiums, 35 to be built in the first phase. Following work that Oaktree Green has done in the past, building construction and design follows "green building" principles. Oaktree is following Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) building standards including using low VOC carpets and paints, compact fluorescent lighting, Energy Star appliances and windows, high efficiency heating and air conditioning units, a plank exterior which does not require frequent painting, and bamboo floors. A bike room encourages the use of bicycle transportation, and the condominiums are a short walk from public transportation, including a shuttle from a major town employer that stops in front of the building.
The redevelopment of this downtown New London parcel will be a great boon to the city, which is classified by the state of Connecticut as a "Distressed Municipality;" a designation that provides a state reimbursement of a portion of lost property taxes from qualified manufacturing facilities. It will attract new wealthy investors downtown. It will also increase the downtown tax base by 11% after Phase I alone, and about 38% after Phase III. Plans include a shoreline extension of the public RiverWalk, at Oaktree's expense. The project will provide a dramatically attractive visual gateway to the Bank St. entrance to downtown. New London is a city of 26,000 people with a median household income of $33,800. 13.4% of New London families live below poverty level (data from 2000 US Census).
Shaws Landing is a great example of strong public-private partnerships, innovation, creativity and a commitment to environmental protection by going beyond standard development practices to incorporate "green building" environmentally responsible principles into the redevelopment of this site.