New Jersey developer backs out of Greenway Commons project in Southington

New Jersey developer backs out of Greenway Commons project in Southington


SOUTHINGTON — A New Jersey developer slated to take over the Greenway Commons project downtown won’t pursue a deal with land owner Meridian Development Partners.

Howard Schlesinger of Meridian has led the effort to build housing and retail at the former factory site for years. After the demolition of the factory buildings and remediation of the land, he was negotiating a deal with Diversified Realty Advisors.

That deal is off.

“We like the team at Diversified Realty, but with the passage of time, our project was no longer the right fit,” Schlesinger said. “We continue to move forward with our commitment to the community to attract another capable developer.”

“We’re moving forward with other developers and setting that in motion,” Schlesinger said. “We’re moving very quickly.”

The town’s economic development coordinator, Louis Perillo, said there’s only so much the town can do to prompt development of the privately owned land.

“That’s part of the issue when there’s private ownership of a valuable and important piece of the downtown puzzle,” Perillo said.

Perillo said Howard told town officials that there is interest from other developers.

Greenway Commons has faced a variety of challenges including the economic downturn and contamination on the former property of Ideal Forging. Perillo said he’s still optimistic and is glad that progress has been made.

“To Howard’s credit, the buildings are down, the cleanup has been done,” he said. “That is so valuable to our town.

“We look at it, professionally, these things take a lot of time,” Perillo said. “It’s a very difficult project.”

Last summer, the planning commission also approved changes for Greenway Commons on Center Street. It allowed Meridian to build 180 apartments and 65 condominiums. Plans approved in 2007 called for 263 owner-occupied residential units.

Schlesinger told town officials that the market has changed since the development was initially approved nearly a decade ago. He said there’s more interest in renting.

Diversified hasn’t left Southington entirely, however. Earlier this year the company bought an Eden Avenue project from local developer Mark Lovley. The town has approved a three-story condominium building with 41 age-restricted units and 23 townhouses open to all ages.

Reached by phone Tuesday, Schlesinger said he didn’t have time to elaborate on the deal or what the next steps could be for Greenway Commons. He couldn’t be reached later in the day. 203-317-2230 Twitter: @JBuchananRJ

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