MERIDEN — The city has received a $2 million grant and a $2 million loan to clean up the abandoned Meriden-Wallingford Hospital on Cook Avenue in order to redevelop the property into a market-rate senior housing and commercial development.
“It’s really great news,” said Economic Development Director Juliet Burdelski. “It’s a huge huge undertaking and this commitment by the state allows us to get the project started.”
The hospital has been vacant since the 1990s when MidState Medical Center relocated to its Lewis Avenue facility. Despite efforts, conditions inside the 327,000-square-foot building have continued to degrade, with evidence of vandalism and graffiti throughout the building.
The city has entered into a development agreement with Diversified Financial Resources, operating under the name 1 King LLC, for the $30 million project, which aims to convert the blighted hospital into a market-rate housing and commercial complex. The deal states that the city will fund the estimated $5 million remediation of the property. Possible uses include a medical walk-in center, a steak house and elderly-assisted living services. Space has also been identified that could be used for the Meriden Senior Center and Pratt Street fire station.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s office announced Monday that a total of $13.6 million in state funds would go to 14 municipalities to revitalize blighted properties, including Meriden. Using the funds to clean up the properties, known as “brownfields,” the cities and towns selected will be able to redevelop the parcels.
“These kinds of properties that have been vacant for decades are causing blight in neighborhoods, draining local resources, and having a negative impact on towns and cities,” Malloy said. “We can add value in our communities by making smart investments that repurpose these properties, resulting in a boost for local economies and spurring growth and private investments.”
In addition to the $2 million grant, the city was also awarded a $2 million loan for the project. The terms of that loan are still being negotiated, Burdelski said, but she hoped the city could find a way to minimize annual payments over a 20-year period.
“It’s long term, but then it won’t be as hard on the budget to swallow,” Burdelski said.
Now that the city has received funding for the cleanup, Burdelski said the developer will have 18 months to secure private financing for the project, as per the agreement with the city.
“So the clock starts ticking and now they have to get their private funding piece,” Burdelski said.