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Gilbert and Bennett Wiremill

The Gilbert and Bennett Wire mill is the heart of Redding’s Georgetown neighborhood. Plans to redevelop the site into a mixed use village collapsed amid the financial crash of 2008 and the ensuing recession. What follows is an abbreviated timeline of key events in the history of the redevelopment.

  • 1848         Gilbert & Bennett Manufacturing Co. begins operations in Georgetown
  • 1989         Gilbert & Bennett Manufacturing Co. declares bankruptcy and closes the mill
  • 2002         Gilbert & Bennett tax liens are sold to Georgetown Land Development Corp. (GLDC)
  • 2004         GLDC develops plans for a mixed-use walkable village district
  • 2005         Redding Zoning Commission approves the GLDC Master Plan. The master plan called for 413 units of housing, 300,000 sq. ft of commercial space, 100,000 square feet of retail space, and public spaces
  • 2005         CT Legislature passes legislation creating a Georgetown Special Taxing District
  • 2005         Georgetown Special Taxing District receives $5mm USDA loan to build sewer
  • 2008         Financial crash of 2008 stalls redevelopment
  • 2009         Georgetown Special Taxing district issues $14,45 million GO Bond to finance project
  • Between 2009 and 2015 Multiple attempts to revive the development fail.
  • 2014 – Julia Pemberton, First Selectwoman took office and  began a review of the land records and uncovered a site with environmental contamination, a mountain of debt($40mm+), an insolvent developer, a tangle of investors, and complex legal issues.
  • 2015- The Town of Redding filed for foreclosure with First Selectwoman Pemberton leading the effort with  the unanimous support of the Board of Finance and the Board of Selectmen.
  • 2016 – The Superior Court ruled in favor of the Town.The owner GLDC appealed and the case went up to the Connecticut Supreme Court.
  • 2019 On December 17th, the CT Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Town of Redding et al V Georgetown Land Development Co LLC et al.
  • 2020 – On September 21st, the Supreme Court ruled in the Town’s favor.
  • 2021 – In February Redding took title to the Gilbert & Bennett Wire Mill
  • 2021 – In April I applied for a $200,000 grant to perform an nvironmental assessment of the wire mill property
  • 2021 – In June the $200,000 grant was awarded to the Town. The grant funds the hiring of a qualified engineering firm to project manage and a licensed environmental professional (LEP) to perform a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment. An engineering assessment of the Norwalk River Walls can also be funded by this grant.
1. Environmental Site Assessment: Phase I – estimated 4 month turnaround and if necessary, targeted Phase II
2. Engineering Assessment: Norwalk River Walls
3. Community Engagement: Plan for the future uses of the site
 

What’s Next

Following the initial assessments funded by the $200,000 grant, the Town is eligible to apply to future grant rounds of up to $2mm per grant, to fund additional assessments, planning activities, infrastructure, partial remediation of contaminated materials.

Improvements to the river walls to remove the property from the flood zone and DOT required improvements to the intersection with route seven are required before development can commence. Cost estimated 7mm. The state had granted 5.6 million for this work before the project failed but developer couldn’t close the deal. 

The estimated cost of remediation to the standards of the prior development plan was $17 million. None of that remediation has been completed. The town has immunity from liability for cleanup. A private party does not. 

 

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Environmental

Gilbert & Bennett Wiremill site is a Brownfield.

A brownfield is defined by Connecticut General Statutes §32-760 as “any abandoned or underutilized site where redevelopment, reuse or expansion has not occurred due to the presence or potential presence of pollution in the buildings, soil or groundwater that requires investigation or remediation before or in conjunction with the restoration, redevelopment, reuse and expansion of the property.”

Prior site assessments performed at the Gilbert & Bennett Manufacturing Facility (Not a complete list)

  1. Phase I Environmental Site Assessment dated March 1994, prepared by Malcolm Pirnie
  2. Phase II Environmental Site Assessment dated November 1994, prepared by Malcolm Pirnie (2 Volumes)
  3. Phase II Environmental Site Assessment Final Report Addendum dated November 1994, prepared by Malcolm Pirnie
  4. RCRA Facility Assessment Report dated 1995, prepared by Malcolm Pirnie (3 volumes)
  5. Container Storage Areas Closure Certification Report dated May 1996, prepared by Malcolm Pirnie
  6. RCRA Facility Investigation Final Report dated February 6, 1998, prepared by Conestoga-Rovers & Associates (2 volumes)
  7. Interim Human Health Risk Assessment RCRA Facility Investigation dated September 1997, prepared by Conestoga-Rovers & Associates
  8. Interim Ecological Risk Assessment RCRA Facility Investigation dated September 1997, prepared by Conestoga-Rovers & Associates
  9. Human Health Risk Assessment RCRA Facility Investigation dated March 1998, prepared by Conestoga-Rovers & Associates (2 volumes)
  10. Ecological Risk Assessment RCRA Facility Investigation dated April 1998, prepared by Conestoga-Rovers & Associates

 

Wire Mill Public Forum Recordings

Redding Got Mill 9-30-15 from Robert Moran on Vimeo.

Speakers:
Tim Sullivan, Deputy Commissioner CT DECD
Wes Haynes, CT Trust for Historic Preservation 
Julia Pemberton, First Selectwoman