MERIDEN — The city is preparing to hire a marketing consultant to study the best way to fill 100,000 square feet of commercial space and attract millions in private investment downtown.
Several months ago, city officials received a $100,000 state grant to look at specific sites and map street-level zoning requirements in the downtown Transit-Oriented Development district. A formal request for qualifications will be made public in a few days, said Economic Development Director Juliet Burdelski.
“This lets us understand how you might create synergy between all the unconnected projects,” said Sean Moore, president of the Midstate Chamber of Commerce. “We’re looking at diversity within restaurants for instance, so we can market, and recruit entrepreneurial types who have a propensity to be first.”
Properties include the 10-acre former Factory H site at 116 Cook Ave.; 33,000 square feet at 11 Crown St., 7,500 square feet of non-residential space at 161 and 177 State St. and 1 King Place, the former Meriden/Wallingford Hospital, 21-23 Colony St. and 16 Colony St. or the former Vault building.
A commercial/residential building under construction at 24 Colony St. has already generated interest from an existing downtown business, Burdelski said.
City officials won’t identify the interested party, but said it’s not a restaurant.
“Ideally we’d like to get in some new businesses or a restaurant,” she said. “The corner site is set up for a restaurant or cafe.”
There is 8,000 square feet of commercial space on the corner of Old Colony and Church Street already under construction and another 2,800-square-foot space that fronts Church Street. The smallest cut allowed is 2,000 square feet in four spaces, said Rick Ross, a managing member of Westmount Development Corp., which partnered with the Meriden Housing Authority and the city on 24 Colony St.
“ We’re just kicking out the wider marketing campaign,” Ross said. “We are online at 24Colony.com and started doing a mass marketing of the space to a greater community; office, retail, boutique, barber to bank branch, any one of these would be things we would consider.”
Westmount has retained the Connecticut Realty Group to help find tenants in the commercial space at 24 Colony St. Westmount’s own residential team is handling the 66 housing units on the upper floors.
Investors are aware of the economic development potential created by the increased rail service coming through Meriden starting in 2018, Moore said.
Commercial lease prices for early investors will be lower than those in cities such as New Haven or Hartford and aren’t expected to climb until more businesses move in and spaces are filled, Moore said. The lower costs could prove attractive for those interested in negotiating long-term leases.
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