Meriden completes interviews with potential downtown developers

MERIDEN — City officials have completed interviews with private developers interested in revitalizing downtown properties.

Six firms expressed interest in six city-owned sites in June: the Record-Journal building, the Meriden Hub, 116 Cook Ave., the Factory H property, the former Meriden-Wallingford Hospital, and a vacant lot on Colony Street. Developers submitted qualifications and listed properties they are interested in developing.

“It’s very exciting to see their vision for these sites,” Economic Development Director Juliet Burdelski said. “We will be discussing things further over the next few weeks before fortifying which developers we have and what sites we’re interested in for certain developers.”

City staff conducted interviews with four of the six private developers in recent days. One of the firms, the Middletown-based Women’s Institute for Housing and Economic Development, was eliminated but could work with the city on some smaller projects, Burdelski said. Branford-based Westmount Management only expressed interest in the small vacant lot on Colony Street and is already developing a building across the street, so no interview was required.

Poko Partners, a firm from Port Chester, New York, toured 116 Cook Ave. and the Record-Journal two weeks ago and interviewed earlier this week. Philadelphia-based Pennrose Properties interviewed last week and expressed interest in the Hub. Pennrose is also the lead developer in the redevelopment of Mills Memorial Apartments, a low-income housing complex adjacent to the Hub. The Michaels Organization, of Marlton, New Jersey, interviewed this week and showed interest in the Hub and the Record-Journal. Stamford-based JHM Group also interviewed this week, stating they were interested in all the properties, except the vacant lot on Colony Street.

All have prior experience with housing and mixed-use development. They all also have used low-income housing tax credits to develop affordable and mixed-income housing. The city is redeveloping the 140-housing unit, five-building Mills complex, which requires the relocation of the units in the city.

No specific plans were discussed in the interviews, which centered more on long-term vision, City Planner Dominick Caruso said.

“The interview panel felt very encouraged that you could almost choose any of the developers to address the different properties,” Caruso said.

City Manager Lawrence J. Kendzior, Purchasing Officer Wilma Petro, Director of Public Works Robert Bass and Director of Community Development Florence Villano, were also involved in the interviews.

With preliminary interviews finished, Petro said, the city will soon request specific plans through a bidding process. Petro expects the request for proposals to be issued in the next two or three weeks, she said. A second round of interviews is also likely.

“They all seem qualified and have good track records,” Petro said. “They each bring something different to the table.”

dbrechlin@recordjournal.com (203) 317-2266 Twitter: @DanBrechlinRJ



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