As the hulking ruin of the abandoned hospital on Cook Avenue in Meriden continues to loom over the neighborhood — as it has for nearly 20 years now, depressing neighbors’ spirits along with their property values — there is reason for hope: a $2 million grant and a $2 million loan to clean up the building have been announced. These will go toward the estimated $5 million cost of the cleaning and environmental remediation that will be necessary before any progress can be made on converting the place to new uses.
The plan is for One King LLC, the developer chosen by the city, to redevelop the building into senior housing, including elderly assisted-living and market-rate apartments, along with commercial space that might contain a medical walk-in clinic, medical offices, and one or more eateries. There is also talk of relocating the Meriden Senior Center and perhaps even the Pratt Street firehouse to the site.
“It’s a huge, huge undertaking and this commitment by the state allows us to get the project started,” said outgoing Economic Development Director Juliet Burdelski.
This is very good news, because conditions inside the 327,000-square-foot, seven-story building have continued to degrade, with evidence of vandalism and graffiti throughout.
The $2 million grant is part of $13.6 million in state funds that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s office recently announced would go to 14 municipalities, including Meriden, to revitalize blighted properties. “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. The governor foresees “making smart investments that repurpose these properties, resulting in a boost for local economies and spurring growth and private investments.”
We certainly hope this is what’s finally happening with the old hospital site. It is high time.