SOUTHINGTON — Crews began tree clearing and some cleanup work at a former factory site on North Main Street this week after decades of inactivity.
With significant environmental contamination from years of copper plating and the defunct company still in legal possession of the land, developers didn’t want to touch the property. The Connecticut Brownfield Land Bank, local developer Mark Lovley and the town joined the effort to foreclose on the property and perform environmental cleanup.
The Beaton & Corbin factory closed in 1989 and caught fire in 2003. Industrial processes at the plumbing fixtures factory caused contamination that will cost at least $1.1 million to clean.
The defunct company still has the title to the property, although the town has tax and sewer liens on it. Under the agreement, the town will sell those liens to the Connecticut Brownfield Land Bank, a nonprofit group, for $1.
The land bank will foreclose on the property, clearing the title and selling the property to Lovley for $1. He’ll in turn contribute $150,000 towards environmental remediation. The EPA is also loaning Lovley $400,000 for the cleanup and the town is putting $150,000 into the deal.
The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the EPA will oversee and certify the cleanup efforts.
Town Economic Development Coordinator Lou Perillo said the Beaton & Corbin site is one of the most challenging redevelopment projects he’s ever faced. The expensive cleanup on a 1.65-acre site kept away almost all developers. Lovley was the only one to respond to a request by the town for developers.
He’s hoping to have cleanup completed by December or January. There’ll be a delay of a few weeks to allow for reporting conditions to the state, but then work should continue.
Courts weren’t hearing foreclosure cases earlier this year, which delayed the legal aspect of the project.
He’s planning two medical office buildings totaling more than 13,000 square feet for the site.
“It’s going to be a great asset when you come into town. You won’t see a blighted piece of property,” Lovley said.
Town Council Chairwoman Victoria Triano said she was glad to see progress on the site after so many years of inactivity.