MERIDEN — The state Department of Economic and Community Development has granted the city’s application to receive $1.8 million in funds to clean up a brownfield site at 289 Pratt St.
The city’s award was included in $17.9 million in state grants to help with the costs of remediating 40 blighted parcels in 13 towns and cities. They are expected to leverage $427 million in private funding and will help clean up 78 acres of land.
The city, in partnership with property owner 290 Pratt St. LLC, will work to clean the 14.3 acre property that was formerly home to a New Departure plant that built automotive parts for General Motors. Preliminary plans call for a 92-unit luxury apartment building. According to architect’s drawings, the building will be four stories with commercial space on the first floor, a rooftop garden, solar panels and expanded parking at 290 Pratt St.
No plans have been submitted to the city for regulatory approval.
“The city is involved with owner,” said Economic Development Director Joseph Feest. “The application went through our office to the DECD Partnership Brownfield Grant Cleanup Fund.”
The principal behind 290 Pratt St. LLC is Steven Ancona of New York, who owns the Meriden Enterprise Center across the street. That area will be cleaned for adjacent parking. Ancona hired an environmental company to estimate the costs prior to filing the application.
“This shows the city of Meriden is a good contender for the brownfield applications,” Feest said. “They helped turn the city around. It’s cleaning up another old factory site.”
The vacant lot is included in the city’s transit-oriented district along the gateway corridor. According to Feest, properties in the transit-oriented district are allowed to have apartments, although nothing has been submitted for review.
“This is a positive thing for the city of Meriden to get another old industrial site cleaned up,” Feest said.
Mayor Kevin Scarpati agreed with Feest that the site needed cleanup and the work will help with run off and other flood control projects along Pratt Street. But he is reluctant about any additional housing downtown.
“Meriden has done its fair share,” Scarpati said. “I don’t think we can increase density in our city. Market rate (housing) is what we need, but at what level?”
Scarpati points to the city’s agreement with the developer Pennrose to build market rate housing on the Meriden Green, across from the fire station. He believes more mixed use development will cause a glut in the residential and commercial availability and strain emergency services and schools.
“There needs to be a balance,” Scarpati said. “I would like to see a creative solution. I favor cleanup of the site, but I’m hesitant to buy into another housing project in our downtown.”
The city lost 144 units of low income housing when the Mills Memorial Apartments were torn down in 2018. Developers have added 151 mixed-income units at Meriden Commons I and II, and an additional 81 units at 11 Crown St., and 60 units of primarily low-income housing at 24 Colony St.
Pennrose has an agreement with the city to build a 61-unit apartment building with commercial space on the first floor on the Green. About 80 percent of the units would be market rate.