MERIDEN — Workers clearing the Mills Memorial Apartments for demolition discovered more asbestos than expected, leading to an estimated cost increase of $110,311 so far, with city officials expecting additional costs.
”We have had two change orders so far for additional asbestos material, mostly tile located inside the buildings,” said city Economic Development Director Juliet Burdelski. “I anticipate a third change order this week for additional exterior abatement.”
Workers started the $3 million demolition earlier this summer and plans call for all five buildings to be razed at once.
“It is not unusual to have change orders for projects this size,” said City Planner Robert Seale, adding the demolition work on the five buildings is continuing.
“The exterior abatement is for additional asbestos found behind fabric, beneath the exterior brick,” Seale said. “It is limited to small patches on the columns and floors. We do not have an estimate at this time regarding the cost of the abatement.”
The demolition of the 1960s low-income housing project required that all 144 families be relocated, a task finally completed last winter. The Meriden Housing Authority turned the property over to the city as part of a flood control project which entails uncovering Harbor Brook and extending the Meriden Green to Cedar Street.
In exchange, the city gave the housing authority a parcel on State and Mill streets to build Meriden Commons I and II, a 151-unit mixed income housing complex.
The city received a $2 million state grant to pay for the demolition and hired Bestech Inc. of Ellington for $1.9 million through a competitive bid process. The company is performing environmental cleanup and has begun to take down the buildings in sections.
The company will remove the exterior bricks and then weaken the base of each building until it “basically falls down on itself,” Burdelski said this spring.
The project is expected to be completed by the end of the year. It wasn’t known Monday if the discovery of additional asbestos would impact the timeline.
City officials initially hoped to raze the Mills this spring, however, the project hit several snags, including delays in relocating the remaining Mills tenants, said Meriden Housing Authority Executive Director Robert Cappelletti.
"Obviously it's very exciting for the new projects to go up and the old to come down," Cappelletti said. "It will be an amazing transformation for the downtown area."