MERIDEN — City leaders met with state economic development officials recently to create a program to encourage more investment in downtown.
David Kooris, the deputy director of the state Department of Economic and Community Development, met last week with city shareholders to shape a program that would make areas in the city more attractive for investment.
“Given the significant number of opportunity zones available throughout the country, the state is trying to help cities coordinate programs to make Connecticut’s opportunity zones most attractive for investors,” said David Cooley, business recruitment specialist for the Making Meriden Business Center. “It will be important that Meriden’s new Economic Development director take the lead on this quickly as opportunity zones are time-sensitive for investors.”
The city expects to hire a new economic development director this week, said City Manager Tim Coon.
A 2017 federal tax and jobs bill allowed state governors to designate opportunity zones – census tracts eligible for development tax incentives. Former Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy designated 72 zones statewide, including three in Meriden.
The opportunity zone program allows investors to pool their resources, including underutilized capital gains taxes, to provide funding for economic development in these zones while lowering overall tax liability.
Kooris told city officials the state is actively marketing the 72 zones to investors.
The Meriden Economic Development Corp., the Meriden Chamber of Commerce and the Meriden Housing Authority are also involved in the creation of a resource pool for investors.
MHA Executive Director Robert Cappelletti told the agency’s board of commissioners last month that the program could assist in developing projects the MHA is sponsoring, including 143 W. Main St.
The 143 West Main St. project consists of building a 45,000 square-foot residential and commercial development on West Main Street that includes a 650-seat black box theater. The MHA and its development arm — the Maynard Road Corp. — and Private Energy Partners would be seeking $32 million for the project.
”We are working with the city to approve a plan,” Cappelletti said. “This would create a fund for developers in the area to use money as part of a finance package. It’s not free money, but capital gains taxes. This is the beginning of raising the money for that fund.”
About 390 properties in the city’s transit-oriented district are affected, including much of the downtown, the former Meriden-Wallingford Hospital, the former medical office building at 116 Cook Ave., the Meriden Green area, and West Main and Colony streets.