MERIDEN — The city’s development deal with One King LLC ended three months ago, when the developer and city officials mutually agreed not to seek another extension.
One King LLC had a contract to be the preferred developer for One King Place, the site of the former Meriden-Wallingford Hospital, which has been vacant for 24 years. A similar agreement with One King to rehabilitate a former medical office building at 116 Cook Avenue has also ended. The contract for the hospital site was negotiated in 2016.
One King LLC had sought a series of extensions on the contract, but after several sources of financing fell through and the pandemic brought construction and other financial challenges, the parties agreed to end the deal, said city Economic Development Director Joseph Feest.
“There was no request for an extension this time,” Feest said. “It was a mutual decision between the city and the developer. COVID definitely had a role in it. There was no fault of the city or the developers.”
One King had a promising $33 million proposal for the hospital property that included a senior citizen lifestyle campus consisting of small apartments, medical offices, grocery and book stores. There was even talk of possibly moving the Meriden Senior Center to the campus.
The end of the agreement returns the city back to square one, but $4 million in city and state dollars spent on remediation work already could be attractive to a new developer, city officials said.
“There is always talk about what we can do and options,” Feest said. “Everything is on the table. Both of them need extensive work and gutting both buildings to change usage. One King is a lot further along in remediation than 116 Cook Ave.,” Feest said.
The property at 116 Cook Ave. is also in a flood plain that saw severe flooding during a heavy downpour over the summer. To help prevent damage to businesses and homes in the area last month the city purchased 100 Hanover St., the former Castle Bank building, for demolition. The city received some state funding to help pay the cost of the land.
The demolition will pave the way for deepening and widening the channel of Harbor Brook that flows under the former bank. The section of the brook is a significant choke point that permits water pooling on Hanover Street and Cook Avenue.
“We are getting ready to send out the demolition specs and get it done,” Feest said. “That is one of the bends that causes the back up. By taking it out we’ll be lessening the curve.”
The channel goes down and around 116 Cook to the Cooper Street bridge, now under construction. The construction also means improvements to the driveway to Hanover Towers that are in need of repairs, said City Councilor Michael Rohde, who chairs the Economic Development Housing and Zoning Commitee.
“Downstream there are some issues coming though the area where the bank is," Rohde said. "We are also going to redo the driveway to Hanover Towers because it's kind of awkward. It's going to be an upgrade to that whole area."
The upgrade could help attract investors to the two blighted buildings.
The demolition opens up landscaping and beautification opportunities along the city’s linear trail system. The former Factory H site behind 116 Cook Ave. is currently being eyed for future recreation uses and a possible skate park.
“Each project doesn’t take us completely out of the danger of flooding, it reduces its severity,” Feest said. “We seem to be getting a heavier amount of rain over shorter periods of time.”
The Economic Development Department will make 1 King Place and 116 Cook Ave. a development priority in 2022, Feest said.