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The Gilbert & Bennett Wire Mill Project

The Gilbert and 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?

June 2024 – A $200,000 BAR grant was awarded to the Town of Redding from the State of Connecticut Department of Community Development. The grant will fund a Brownfield Area Wide Planning project. This is the 3rd $200,000 grant the Town has been awarded by the State DECD.  We are grateful for the support of DECD. This financial support from DECD’ Office of Brownfield Redevelopment is critical to the Town’s efforts to remediate and property and plan for future uses.

Monday May 20,2024 Breaking news!!

EPA awards $1,991,000  Brownfield Cleanup Grant to the Town of Redding for remediation at the Gilbert & Bennett Wire Mill.
Click here for EPA Press Release
Click here to review the successful grant application.

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

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.

Presentation: Update on Phase I and Phase II Environmental Assessments May 22, 2023

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
  • Environmental Site Assessment: Phase I – estimated 4 month turnaround and if necessary, targeted Phase II
  • Engineering Assessment: Norwalk River Walls
  • Community Engagement: Plan for the future uses of the site
  • 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
Georgetown Special Taxing District: Enabling legislation, Bylaws, Debt

Georgetown Special Taxing District

Georgetown Special Taxing District Notice of Name & Description of Territorial Limits

Enabling Legislation

Governance

Georgetown Special Taxing District Bylaws (GSTD)

Secured Debt

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
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
    2023          October. 
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

 

A Georgetown Story 
    a film by John E. Maher

The Georgetown History Project
Georgetown Village Restoration

 

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

 

 

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