Goodwill store on way to long-vacant Plainville property

Published on Thursday, 16 August 2018 21:35


PLAINVILLE - After sitting vacant and blighted for many years the so-called “Chung property” is going to be the site of a Goodwill store.

The land, at 311 New Britain Ave., consists of a 9.55-acre parcel, a 1.83-acre parcel and a 2.4-acre property.

It is owned by John Senese, who has remediated the site to the satisfaction of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, according to Town Manager Robert E. Lee.

However, it was a long road to get to that point.

Over the past 20 years, the property has undergone many changes. Lee said that during the mid- and late 1990s it had been the site of a restaurant, a furniture store, a bookstore and an auto repair shop.

A “Mr. Chung” then purchased the property and owned it for 7 to 8 years. However, Lee said, Chung ran into hard times when the Great Recession hit in the late 2000s.

“It came to the point where he was very behind in tax payments,” said Lee. “The town was considering its options if we had to rehabilitate and foreclose on the property. Due to the history of what was on it, we expected contamination to be a concern. With the assistance of Mr. Chung, we were given permission to go onto the property and secure a grant to conduct the study.”

The remediation of the site was initially estimated at $1.5 million. However, after a study by Tighe & Bond, the cost of decontamination came out to less than a half-million.

“This made it much easier for people to consider buying the property,” Lee said. “The town then went through the process of a tax lien and John Senese was the high bidder. He has owned it for the past four or five years. He paid the taxes off and sought to get a tenant. We assisted him in getting a loan to do the cleanup, which took some time. But, the property is now cleaned up to the point where DEEP is happy.”

At one point, AAA had considered the property. However, due to its being in an aquifer protection zone, the law prohibited AAA from using it for the mechanical work it intended to do. AAA ended up locating in Southington instead.

Lee said Senese has been approved to construct two buildings.” The 9.55-acre section will be used for a 17,500- square-foot Goodwill store. No completion date has been revealed.

Lee said the second building had no tenant selected as of a month ago, but a design has been approved.

Mark Devoe, director of planning and economic development, said Senese would be putting a 12,000-square-foot building on the other piece of land.

“He got a unique approval where he could either put a medical office, retail office or restaurant there,” said Devoe. “The approvals ran the gamut.”

Lee added that the Department of Transportation has been concerned about curb cuts around that area of New Britain Avenue, near the Cooke Street intersection, for some time. The redevelopment of the former Chung property may allow for those improvements, he said.

Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or

Posted in New Britain Herald, Plainville on Thursday, 16 August 2018 21:35. Updated: Thursday, 16 August 2018 21:37.