Report by Paula Antolini, August 30, 2023, 1:28PM EDT
(HARTFORD, CT) – Aug. 10, 2023 – Governor Ned Lamont today announced that the State of Connecticut is awarding $23 million to eight towns and cities under the third round of his administration’s recently launched Connecticut Communities Challenge Grant program.
Administered by the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), the program was created in 2021 with the purpose of funding a wide range of revitalization projects that will spur the growth of new jobs. This third round of grants leverages approximately $105 million in non-state dollars.
“We created this grant program to help our towns and cities build more housing and improve our ability to attract businesses and grow jobs,” Governor Lamont said. “These grants are targeted toward projects that will make neighborhoods even more attractive for private investments and increase new opportunities for residents.”
“These investments in our communities are good for businesses, residents, and visitors alike,” DECD Commissioner Alexandra Daum said. “Creative redevelopment of these sites will encourage vibrancy and build urgently needed housing units and childcare capacity. I am very proud of what is being accomplished under this program as I know investing in our communities makes our great state even better.”
The recipients of this third round includes:
- Bethel – $4,500,000 grant award for 9-11 Diamond Avenue: Adjacent to the Bethel Train Station, this project will be a mixed-use development converting vacant and underutilized industrial land to a transit-oriented village. The residential component will include approximately 200 units, 20% of which will be affordable. Commercial development will focus on complementary businesses and high-priority commercial uses. Infrastructure improvements will support this project and future developments. A greenspace and public nature reserve path will also be included.
- Bridgeport – $2,255,000 grant award for Post Office Square: Reimagining a strategically located property in north downtown Bridgeport as an “outdoor living room,” this project includes incubator spaces for micro-retail, a dog park, an event space, a beer garden (operated by Bridgeport’s Berlinetta Brewery), public art, and food truck infrastructure. By activating a disused and formerly blighted section of the city’s downtown north neighborhood, the project will drive economic development and small business growth.
- Haddam – $4,550,000 grant award for Serving Our Seniors – Affordable Senior Housing and Senior Center: This adaptive reuse ADA accessible project in Higganum Village will transform the former elementary school to create a new Senior Center and sidewalks connecting to downtown. Thirty-three units of affordable senior housing will be created. The site will also host the community food pantry, a multi-generational park, and a dog park. The former school auditorium will be available for public use.
- Hebron – $2,106,000 grant award for the Hebron Town Center Initiative: Currently there is insufficient water capacity to grow the town center. This infrastructure initiative will install community wells, which will enable the construction of approximately 52 housing units. Essential to Hebron’s ability to develop a visually coherent Town Center, this is the first step toward providing recreation, economic development, and future developments including affordable housing.
- Naugatuck – $3,000,000 grant award for the YMCA Childcare Center: This project will expand the Naugatuck YMCA’s childcare facility by renovating the adjacent vacant Saint Frances Parochial School. Plans include a licensed birth to five childcare center, school and teen programming, a teenage recreational center, and family resources. Located less than a half mile from the newly planned rail line platform and 200 mixed-rate apartments, this expansion will help meet the childcare needs of the area.
- New Britain – $4,000,000 grant award for The Strand: The new six-story Strand promises to bring a much-loved piece of New Britain history back to life while providing modern, amenity-rich housing. The Strand’s moniker and design features pay homage to the former Strand Theater, one of the grandest theaters in the Northeast during its time, which sat approximately on the same site. The Strand will produce approximately 100 market-rate and affordable units in addition to over 3,700 square feet of ground floor restaurant and retail, complete with a “marquee” and facade harkening back to the old theater. The project represents a critical infill opportunity and maximizes the land’s cultural and economic value potential, right-sized for location and walkable to transit and all downtown has to offer.
- New London – $1,237,500 grant award for Phase II Downtown Revitalization, Arts, Culture and Tourism: The historic The Day building will be redeveloped, including façade repairs, energy efficient upgrades, window repairs, and roof replacement. Approximately 35 new residential units are planned, 20% of which will be affordable. Four new commercial spaces will be created, and a museum space to display the The Day’s historic newspaper collection. The project will remove an industrial facility to create a new public park which will serve as a conduit between the primary parking garage and State Street/Bank Street, opening movement and pedestrian flow throughout downtown. Multiple beautification elements on city-owned land are also part of this project, including art installations, gateways, signage, and green space activation measures.
- Torrington – $1,400,000 grant award for Sophia Building – Mixed Use Affordable Housing Adaptive Reuse Project: This project, part of Torrington’s Affordable Housing Implementation Strategy, will transform eight currently uninhabitable apartments to 17 high-quality units, five of which will be designated affordable, and one will be ADA accessible on the ground floor. Four rundown ground-floor commercial spaces will be revitalized, and the façade on the historic Sophia Building will be restored.
In total, the Connecticut Communities Challenge Grant program has awarded more than $95 million in support of projects in 21 cities and towns. These awards are expected to create more than 2,300 units of housing; more than 300,000 square feet of office, retail, and restaurant space; and at least 12 new public space projects. The program is also meeting the goal of investing more than half of the funding in distressed municipalities.
More details on the Connecticut Communities Challenge Grant program can be found online at portal.ct.gov/DECD/Content/Business-Development/05_Funding_Opportunities/CT-Communities-Challenge-Grant.