MERIDEN — Incentive zoning for the west side, a marketing strategy for downtown and continued economic progress are on the city’s agenda in 2017.
The Economic Development Department’s goals for 2017 include a plan to “market the city as a great place to live, work and run a business,” said Economic Development Director Juliet Burdelski. “It will also foster private transit-oriented development and retail/commercial development in downtown Meriden.”
The nearly completed train station is a sign of progress, said Sean Moore, president of the Midstate Chamber of Commerce. New stations are also under construction in Wallingford and Berlin.
“It will be an iconic structure in three communities,” Moore said. “People will say, ‘I’m not going to New Haven any more to park my car when I go to New York City. I’m going to park in my hometown.’”
The Hartford Line will run 16 trains per day beginning in January 2018. Planning efforts to expand the Springfield to Boston line, now underway in Massachusetts, will put central Connecticut in the direct path of rail service from Boston to New York City in several years, Moore said.
The city is piggybacking on the increased rail service by working with developers in the transit-oriented district with a goal to build 600 to 1,000 new housing units and 60,000 square feet of retail space within walking distance to transit within five years. Officials also plan to work with property owners and developers to fill empty space along key commercial corridors, including facade improvements on Pratt Street, Burdelski said.
The city will complete building and site remediation at 11 Crown St. this spring before turning the property over to Michaels Development for mixed-income housing.
The city is also finalizing a development strategy for reuse of city-owned 116 Cook Ave. and the former hospital in the same neighborhood.
It has an agreement with the Meriden Housing Authority to complete demolition at 144 Pratt St. following the relocation of all Mills residents and transfer of the property to the city.
Outside of the downtown area, Burdelski said her department hopes to work with the City Council to create a tax incentive district or other financing mechanisms to encourage new development along West Main Street.
Priorities for 2017 include assisting at least 20 companies to access incentive programs and financing to start and expand their businesses in Meriden, according to Burdelski.
City businesses with opportunities for growth in 2017 include Ragozzino Foods, Aperture Optical Sciences, Accel International, Omerin (formerly Q-S Technologies), Taino’s Smokehouse, and Banana Brazil Restaurant, Burdelski said.
“First of all, one of my wishes for the year is that 2017 is a confidence building year in our community,” said David Lowell, chairman of the City Council’s Economic Development, Housing and Zoning Committee.
New housing, increased rail service and a new train station “will come together to build resident confidence, non-resident confidence and developer confidence,” Lowell said.