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MERIDEN — Environ-mental cleanup work could begin this summer at the empty four-story former medical office building on Cook Avenue.
The city is asking for public input after receiving a federal grant that will help with project.
The city purchased 116 Cook Ave. in 2000 after a 7 to 5 vote by the City Council. Since then, the 69,000 square-foot building has sat vacant and some have argued that the city should not have made the purchase.
Last year, the city was awarded a $200,000 federal Environmental Protection Agency grant that the city was required to match with $40,000.
The combined $240,000 will allow for a fuel storage tank to be removed and for other environmental work, said Economic Development Director Juliet Burdelski. The $40,000 comes from a separate grant, City Manager Lawrence J. Kendzior has previously told the Record-Journal.
The cost of completely cleaning up the site would likely cost millions, Burdelski said.
That would include work on the inside of the building, which prior to serving as medical offices was part of the International Silver Co. property.
As part of the grant process, the city is required to take public comment for 45 days and to hold a public hearing, which took place Monday night at City Hall. The hearing was quickly open and shut with nobody from the public in attendance.
“The next step will be to determine with a developer if the building can either be reused or if it made sense to go forward with the removal of the building,” Burdelski said. “Either way, there is a cleanup cost involved.”
In the coming weeks, the city will request qualifications from interested developers for a handful of city-owned properties.
After reviewing qualifications, the city will request proposals for the sites to see if developers are interested in the properties. Among them is 116 Cook Ave., which a city consultant has proposed for housing.
“Part of the building had that old mill brick work and architecture that could be quite an interesting rehab project,” Burdelski said. “But in the south part, I’m not sure, there’s some water damage there...It will be up to the developers to reevaluate it.”
The demolition for the building has been estimated at close to $2 million.
Complicating any redevelopment is that the building is within the Harbor Brook 100-year flood plain, similar to many other downtown properties. Until work is done on the nearby Cooper Street bridge and work is completed on other bridges and the Hub site, 116 Cook Ave. will remain in the flood plain.
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