The Gilbert & Bennett Wire Mill is located in Redding’s Georgetown village. The Wire Mill is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Wire Mill site is also 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.”
The Town of Redding took ownership of 44 acres of the Wire Mill property in 2020, after a lengthy foreclosure process that began in 2015 ended at the Connecticut Supreme Court in a victory for the Town.
What’s Happening Now?
Monday October 30, 2023: Brownfield Grant Public Meeting
The Town of Redding is applying for an EPA Cleanup Grant to request funding for remedial activities at the Gilbert and Bennett Wire Mill Site located at 20 North Main St and 50 Bennett St, property owned by the Town of Redding. As part of the application process, The Town of Redding will host a meeting to solicit public input on Monday October 30, 2023 at 7:30 p.m. at the Town Hall Hearing Room, 100 Hill Rd.
Public Meeting Presentation:
EPA Cleanup Grant Public Meeting Oct. 30, 2023 Presentation
EPA Cleanup Grant Public Meeting Handout
Environmental Protection Agency FY 24 Brownfield Cleanup Grant Application:
All documents are drafts for discussion
- Draft Narrative Information Sheet
- Draft Project Area Description and Plans for Revitalization
- Draft Response to Threshold Criteria
- Draft Analysis of Brownfield Cleanup Alternatives
June 2023 – October 2023
Environmental & structural site assessments began in 2021 and continue today funded by $400,000 in Department of Economic Development Office of Brownfield Redevelopment grants awarded to the Town. ($200,000 awarded June 2021 and $200,000 awarded June 2023.) This work is a prerequisite for any entity, public or private, seeking state and/or federal brownfield funds to assist with brownfield remediation and redevelopment.
Environmental Assessment Work Plan Summer 2023-Fall 2023
Presentation: Update on Phase I and Phase II Environmental Assessments May 22, 2023
BOS Presentation_Restoring A Community Asset Oct. 16, 2023
Wire Mill Advisory Committee – Annual Report 23-24_Final
October 2022 – May 2023
Following the completion of the Phase I Environmental Site Assessment in July of 2022, licensed environmental professionals (engineers) from the firm Tighe & Bond conducted an environmental hazards gap analysis, hazardous building materials survey, a structural review of the Norwalk River, walls, and a structural review of the historic buildings. The summary findings were presented at a public meeting on May 22, 2023. Click the link to view.
January 2022 – July 2022 Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment
The first deliverable under the CT Department of Economic Development Office of Brownfield Redevelopment Assessment Grant awarded in July of 2021 was a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA). A Phase I ESA is a required of a property owner seeking brownfield funding through CT DECD and/or US EPA.
The Town of Redding was awarded a $200,000 Brownfield Assessment Grant in June 2021. The Phase 1 ESA was initiated in late 2021 and completed in July 2022, followed by a presentation to the Town of the findings and recommendations for next steps. The Phase I ESA also revealed gaps in prior environmental surveys and found new areas of concern (AOCs).
A series of additional environmental & structural assessments were recommended as the progression of the overall site assessment continues. The work is also funded by the $200,000 grant.
July 18, 2022: BOS Meeting with Tighe and Bond: Powerpoint slides Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment Update (ESA) and recommendations for next steps
For more detail on the environmental and other assessments funded under the Brownfield Grant program, and other historic documentation of prior site activities, click to expand the accordion menus.
Town of Redding's Site Assessment Workplan: 2021 -2023
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 in the range of $7mm. In 2013, the State of Connecticut approved a $5.6 million grant for this work contingent on the developer securing private funds to build phase i housing in the west pond district. The grant was withdrawn when the developer could not secure financing for the housing project.
Town of Redding Foreclosure 2015 - 2021: Complaint, Decision, Press
Town of Redding Foreclosure
Georgetown Special Taxing District: Enabling legislation, Bylaws, Debt
Georgetown Special Taxing District
- Special Act 05-14: An Act Establishing A Special Taxing District in the Town of Redding
- Legislative Testimony
The Georgetown Special Taxing District (GSTD), controlled by the former developer, issued debt to finance development. The developer defaulted on the bonds. Repayment of the bonds remains an obligation of the Georgetown Special Taxing District (GSTD) and not the Town of Redding.
Repayment of the bonds are tied to tax revenues of the Georgetown Special Taxing District.
Market Analysis of GLDC'S 2005 Master Plan
Market analysis of GLDC’s approved master plan:
Timeline 1918 - 2020
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 declares bankruptcy and closes the mill
- 2002 Gilbert & Bennett tax liens are sold to Georgetown Land Development Corp.
- 2004 GLDC develops plans for a mixed-use walkable village district
- 2005 Redding Zoning Commission approves a Master Plan.
- 2005 Legislature passes legislation creating a Georgetown Special Taxing District
- 2005 Georgetown Special Taxing District receives $5mm in Federal funds from the US Department of Agriculture to finance a buildout of Redding’s sewer plant
- 2008 Financial crash of 2008 stalls redevelopment
- 2009 Georgetown Special Taxing District issues $14.45 million GO Bond to finance project
- 2009 – 2015 Multiple attempts to revive the development fail
- 2015 The Town of Redding filed for foreclosure 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 to the Connecticut Supreme Court.
- 2019 December 17, 2019 CT Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Town of Redding et al V Georgetown Land Development Co LLC et al.
- 2020 September 21st CT Supreme Court ruling in the Town’s of Redding’s favor.
- 2021 February. The Town of Redding takes title to the Gilbert & Bennett Wire Mill
- 2021 June. Town of Redding is awarded a $200,000 CT DECD Brownfield Assessment Grant grant. The grant will fund a phase I environmental site assessment and related planning activities.
- 2022 March. Commence work on the phase I environmental site assessment
- 2023 June. DECD awards a second Brownfield Assessment Grant of 200,000 to fund Phase II and III assessments
Historical Environmental Reports 1994 - 2020
- 1994: Malcolm Pirnie Phase I Site Assessment Gilbert & Bennett Georgetown CT Nov.1994
- 1994: Malcolm Pirnie PHASE II Site Assessment Nov 1994 Gilbert & Bennett Georgetown CT
- 1999: US EPA Removal program preliminary assessment site investigation report for the Gilbert and Bennett site January 12 1999
- 2007: Remedial Action Plan and Engineered Control Variance Request vol. 1 Fuss & O’Neill
- 2007: Map CAMU Location Eligible Wastes (MAP TAKEN FROM REMEDIATION ACTION PLAN 2007 FUSS AND O’NEILL)
- 2007: Remedial Action Plan and Engineered Control Variance Request Appendix A CAMU Application Vol. II Fuss & O’Neill
- 2007: State of Connecticut DEEP Letter of Approval of 2007 remedial action plan, engineered control variance, and CAMU designation
- 2008: EPA RCRA 2008 Cleanup Flier
- 2020 EPA Results: Groundwater
Studies: CT Trust for Historic Preservation & Vibrant Communities Initiative 2013-2015
Studies – Vibrant Communities Initiative Grant
Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation
Gilbert and Bennett Wire Mill Historic Core Historic Preservation Feasibility and Concept Design Final Report, February 2015
Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation – Vibrant Communities Initiative
Architect and M/E/P Engineer: WASA/Studio A
Implementation Strategy: Preservation of the Historic Resources at the Gilbert & Bennett Wire Mill, February 2015
Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation – Vibrant Communities Initiative
Prepared by the Cecil Group, Inc. in Coordination with WASA Architects/Studio A
Land Use History: Zoning
Land Use: Zoning Commission
2004 Master Plan Application _Gilbert & Bennett_Georgetown Land Development Co. LLC
2004 Illustrative Master Plan Gilbert & Bennett Wire Mill Georgetown Land Development Co., LLC
Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company – Architects and Town Planners
Traffic Study for 2004 Master Plan
A Georgetown Story
a film by John E. Maher
The Georgetown History Project
Georgetown Village Restoration