Downtown Meriden parking garage opening to the public this month, commercial space still vacant

Downtown Meriden parking garage opening to the public this month, commercial space still vacant

Record-Journal


MERIDEN — The parking garage at 24 Colony St. is expected to open to the public this month, as is the new train station, but 11,000 square feet of new Colony Street commercial space remains vacant.

Westmount Development Group and Maynard Road Corp., the development arm of the Meriden Housing Authority, is expected to close on a deal that turns over operation of the top three floors of the parking garage to the state Department of Transportation to allow for public and commuter parking.

Officials couldn’t provide an exact date when the garage would open to the public, but said it will open prior to the train station, which is expected to be in use by the end of August.

“There are 48 spaces for residents of 24 Colony St. on the bottom level, and an additional 225 spaces on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th levels for Hartford Line commuters and the public, on a first-come, first-serve basis,” said DOT spokesman Judd Everhart. “Right now, the CTDOT, the development group and the new Hartford Line service provider are finalizing operational details associated with management of the garage, which will fall under the responsibility of the new rail service provider when the garage opens.”

The DOT acquired the property in 2015 through eminent domain because of its proximity to the renovated station on State Street. Westmount partnered with Maynard Road Corp. and the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority. According to Meriden2020.com, a website maintained by the city’s Economic Development Department, the garage is set to open this month and will charge a maximum of $7 per day. The first two hours and weekends are free, the website states.

The four-story building at 24 Colony St. cost $24 million to build and includes 63 units of mixed-income housing units.

The project was contingent on the CHFA low-income tax credit program and became the first new, private development in decades in downtown Meriden.

Westmount quickly filled the 63 apartments last fall, but 11,000 square feet of commercial space remains vacant on the first floor.

“It’s not going so great,” Rick Ross, of Westmount Development, said of filling the commercial space.

Ross and Maynard Road Corp. are working to close on the final finances with CHFA, which would free up more money to build out some of the commercial space to attract tenants. Ross said although many people in the city want to see a restaurant in the space, he hasn’t had any qualified candidates express interest.

“We’ve had more retail type of users,” Ross said. “There are some challenges with a full (restaurant exhaust) system.”

A restaurant would require a sprinkler system over the grill and more expensive insurance. “A coffee shop in that corner space is something I would be pursuing,” he said.

Ross said he is in talks with an existing city retailer that he declined to name. He expects interest in the building to improve when the train station opens and the commuter rail service begins in May 2018.

“At least then they can visualize it,” Ross said.

The city is in contact with Ross and other partners about possible tenants, but has no control over leases.

“We would love to see restaurants and other lively businesses in there to service our community and soon commuters from the train,” said Paola Mantilla, a city economic development associate.


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