SOUTHINGTON — Owners of the former Ideal Forging site say they have six local and national parties interested in picking up the housing and retail project downtown.
Howard Schlesinger, of Meridian Development Partners, said there’s strong interest in the former factory site.
“All six people have been vetted, they’re credible,” he said.
Last year, a New Jersey developer slated to take over the Greenway Commons project declined to pursue the deal and instead bought an Eden Avenue condominium building project from local developer Mark Lovley.
Town Councilor Victoria Triano, a Republican, expressed frustration at the lack of progress on a major piece of downtown real estate. She said the town has been “understanding” with Schlesinger but that the vacant piece of land should be put to use.
“What he doesn’t have a right to do, any developer, is have a property and let it go to waste like that,” she said at a December meeting.
Last week, Triano said she wants Schlesinger to succeed.
“I hope one of those six folks will reach out,” she said. “Until that happens, I am concerned about the aesthetics at the bottom of Center Street.”
Triano hoped improvements could be made at the property after the snow melted.
Lou Perillo, the town’s economic development coordinator, said the site looked worse when it was home to a derelict factory on contaminated soil.
“That blight could hurt all of downtown,” he said.
Meridian provided the expertise to deal with the contamination and demolished the buildings.
“The buildings are down. Now I view it as an opportunity to move forward,” Perillo said.
Schlesinger said he’s “totally focused on the Greenway Commons project. He’s planned meetings with potential investors this month.
“The process of getting people interested in downtown Southington on that scale has its challenges,” he said.
Plans approved in 2007 called for 263 owner-occupied residential units. In 2016, the planning commission approved changes for Greenway Commons which allowed Meridian to build 180 apartments and 65 condominiums.
Perillo supported condominiums and apartments for the site, saying it was the most likely to attract developers.