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Key downtown Meriden property sold to Long Island developer

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MERIDEN — A Long Island partnership recently purchased the four-story building at 1 West Main St. for $1.53 million.

Star City West Main LLC of Great Neck, New York bought the 33,116-square-foot building from Meriden Property LLC of Greenwich in September. The building formerly housed the Social Security Administration offices and the state Department of Children and Families. Social Security moved to Research Parkway several years ago, while DCF moved to 639 Research Parkway in April.

Michael Livi, a principal with Star City West Main, could not be reached for comment Wednesday but city officials say they have been in touch with the new owners.  

“We met the new owners and talked to them before they purchased it,” said city Economic Development Director Joseph Feest. “They were interested in commercial space downtown.and haven’t got back to us yet with their final plans. It was a decent price.”

The building is vacant and has parking for 49 spaces, and commercial space on the first floor. The upper floors each have 8,000 square feet of office space  The prior owner’s lease with the state expired last year, Feest said. 

“The bulit-in parking is a marketable feature,” Feest said. “This is not the first building they bought but I don’t think they have anything in Meriden. I’m glad to see them wanting to do something with the building.”

After being vacant since April, the building’s parking lot and exterior is overgrown with weeds and bushes, which concerns state Rep. Hilda Santiago, who represents the 84th House District covering the city’s downtown.

“Now we have another vacant building,” Santiago said. “It’s not conducive to businesses and offices opening up downtown. We also have to make sure there is upkeep.” 

Santiago was also critical of the government agencies moving away from downtown and over to the east side where bus transportation can take at least an hour to reach from downtown. 

“One of the reasons they came downtown from the east side was the assessibility for citizens,” Santiago said. “Not having to take a bus to the east side. To transfer one side to the other it takes an hour. You have to take a whole day. There are still a lot of folks who like to go in person. It doesn’t make sense to me.” 

Santiago would like to hear more about the planned use for the building, particularly in light of the discussion surrounding a potential new senior center to replace the existing one at 16 W. Main St., directly across the street. A new center would likely be built on another site due to concerns that 16 W. Main is not the best location for a senior center.

“I’m really concerned about that (potential vacancy), Santiago said. 

Colony Street activity

But activity is stirring along Colony Street in at least two of five vacant buildings. The Colony Street Project developers are working with city officials to outline costs associated with interior demolition and renovating troublesome properties at 9-11 and 13-17 Colony St.

The two buildings are included in a redevelopment plan that seeks to revitalize five buildings along a stretch of vacancies near the train station. One of the buildings is secured by fencing to prevent debris from the facade from injuring pedestrians.

“They’re doing exploratory demolition,” said Assistant Planning Director Brian Grubb. “There are no issued permits. They are trying to do research in all these old structures. You have to know about the building before you can figure out the costs.”

City building officials contacted developers this week to offer cost estimates on permit fees before interior demolition could begin, Grubb said. “This is moving forward.”

Developer Choni Grunblatt could not be reached for comment but Feest has reached out for an update on the interior work and facade repairs. 

The project would dramatically change the five buildings at 1-3 Colony St, 9-11 Colony St., 13-17 Colony St., 21-23 Colony St. and 51 Colony St. Grunblatt has said he intends to preserve the historical architecture. 

In July, the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals granted conditional approval of zoning variances requested by the developers behind a plan to convert the buildings into a residential and commercial community.

Plans showed the majority of residences would be studio apartments, with some one bedroom and larger apartments also proposed. Each of the buildings would have ground floor apartments in the rear — facing Railroad Avenue.

Details called for 33% non-residential use in each of the buildings. For at least one of the buildings included in the proposal, 1-3 Colony St., the board granted approval on the condition the developers either own or lease 15 parking spaces in a downtown lot.

The housing proposed in the Colony Project is market rate. Project representatives told the board that the project's overall goal is to "create a more viable and active downtown with walking spaces and an active community that can enjoy both the commercial spaces and be able to live in a downtown area.”

mgodin@record-journal.com203-317-2255Twitter: @Cconnbiz


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