MERIDEN — Nearly 20 years after it was vacated, environmental cleanup has begun at the former Meriden-Wallingford Hospital to allow it to be made over into a senior living complex.
Workers are remediating the 5.6-acre site, which was found to be contaminated with PCBs, metal, inorganic contaminants and petroleum, according to an environmental study. The cleanup will also include removing two underground storage tanks and hazardous materials from the former boiler room, as well as asbestos.
“The city has committed to completing remediation and hazardous materials abatement to advance the adaptive reuse of the building and parking garage in cooperation with a private developer,” said city Economic Development Director Juliet Burdelski.
The abatement project is scheduled for completion within 170 working days, during which time access to the site is prohibited. Soil cleanup using the EPA funds will begin in early 2019.
The city-owned former hospital building sits in the brownfield area-wide revitalization zone within the downtown transit-oriented development district. The zone includes 35 brownfield properties consisting of former manufacturing sites and the hospital. More than a dozen sites are owned by the city.
The city selected One King LLC as the developer and signed an agreement in June 2017. The plan is to transform the blighted 325,000 square-foot structure and two-story parking garage into a housing and commercial development.
One King LLC has committed to an 18-month cleanup schedule and a $30 million investment to convert the property to residential, medical office and retail space.
Meriden also received a $2 million grant and $2 million loan, at one percent interest, from the state last November and another $200,000 in funds from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in April for the cleanup.
A $4 million financial plan approved by the council in January includes a 17-year repayment plan starting in 2021, with the city paying $132,410 annually. One King will be responsible for half of the loan repayments, which may be deducted from taxes on the property.
The city hired American Environmental Inc., of Holyoke, Massachusetts, as abatement contractor after it submitted a low bid of $3.4 million.
”Brownfields are a wise choice for redevelopment as they already have the infrastructure in place to support new growth, as well as reducing the need to develop valuable open space,” Rob Klee, state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection commissioner, said in April. “This investment will help to transform a long vacant piece of property into an economic driver for the region.”
A seven-year abatement plan for the hospital stipulates the developer will pay no taxes on the property for the first two years with 50 percent abatement in the third year. The abatement decreases gradually after that, with a 10 percent abatement in year seven.
The development could ultimately include a medical walk-in center, a grocery store, a restaurant, and assisted-living services. The city has also considered relocating the Meriden Senior Center and the Pratt Street fire station to the location.