NEW BRITAIN – As U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty pointed to the site of New Britain’s old police station Monday morning, she said the future of similar parcels around the state could be threatened by President Donald Trump’s proposed budget, which, she said cuts money for Brownfields site remediation.
“The new president’s budget would kill the program,” she said. “I am submitting legislation that would fully fund this program. This is a really important program, especially in districts like ours.”
Esty showed up Monday morning on Columbus Boulevard to decry the cuts to fund Brownfields remediation projects nationally as she highlighted the story of how the state and the city worked together to generate plans to revitalize the site.
The state provided $2.7 million in funding to deal with demolishing the building, which contained asbestos and hadn’t been used since late 2012, when the police moved into a new station at the intersection of Chestnut and Main streets. No federal funds were used to rehabilitate the parcel, but Esty said it was an example of using state funding to rehab the property so private investors could spend $58 million bringing a new life to the parcel and the area, Esty said.
The bill Esty is promoting would provide up to $250 million a year, to be used for Brownfield remediation projects throughout the country through 2022.
“I was pretty surprised to see the president’s budget because no one doesn’t want Brownfields (projects),” Esty said. “People want former industrial sites back in use.”
Plans by Xenolith and project associate Dakota Partners call for transforming the nearly 3-acre parcel into Columbus Commons, a 230,000-square-foot mix of retail and residential units. Plans would include two six-story, L-shaped buildings with retail, office space and restaurants on the first floor and 160 market-rate apartment units on the floors above.
The plan, which would be developed in two phases, also calls for extensive use of green space, including an interior courtyard that would be visible from Herald Square.
The retail space would be accessible from Columbus Boulevard and the interior courtyard. The project, which is near the CTfastrak bus station, was designed as transit-oriented development that will aid in the revitalization of the downtown, said the city’s acting director of the Department of Municipal Development, Kenneth Malinowski.
Staff writer Christopher Fortier contributed to this story.
Lisa Backus can be reached at 860-801-5066 or Lbackus@newbritainherald.com.