Murphy tours Ansonia, touts tax breaks for brownfield clean up

Stamford Advocate

ANSONIA — Federal funding and tax credits could help turn the city’s brownfields green again.

And U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy said Congress’ passing his and U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty’s joint clean-up legislation could make that happen.

“It’s not a game changer, but one more small economic benefit to a developer looking to rehabilitate a brownfield,” Murphy said.

On Thursday, the Senator got a first-hand look at Mayor David Cassetti’s efforts to turn four former factory sites into apartments, retail stores and a new police station.

“I’m trying to recharge Ansonia,” said Cassetti, playing on the Charger nickname of the high school. “This law will help a lot developers.”

Cassetti took Murphy, state Rep. Linda Gentile, D-Ansonia, state Sen. George Logan, R-Ansonia and Tim Sullivan, the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development deputy commissioner, on a tour of those sites.

One involves purchasing the former Farrel Corp. headquarters at 65 Main Street from Shaw Growth Ventures of Greenwich and Jericho, N.Y., and refurbishing it, The plan calls for putting the Senior Center on the first floor and the police department on the second floor.

As a result of the purchase, Shaw plans to rehab the blighted former Farrel Process Laboratory at 501 East Main Street into 200 residential apartments and street level stores.

Additionally, the city is close to selling the former Ansonia Technology Park and the adjacent Palmer Building to Copper City Development, which intends to invest about $10 million to construct 90 apartments on the upper floors and retail including a micro-brewery on the street level space.

A public hearing on that sale is set for May 2 at 7 p.m. in City Hall. If all goes well, the Board of Aldermen could approve the sale during their June meeting.

“What Ansonia is doing is right in line with good development,” Murphy said. “People want to live closer to transit and entertainment options. So cities are doubling down on downtown residential developments. It’s the way people want to live today.”

He said grants might be available from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Economic Development Administration.

Murphy’s Creating Liveable Environments and New Usable Property (CLEAN UP) act would re-enact two expired tax incentives. The first allow developers to fully deduct the costs of environmental cleanups on brownfields in the year those costs are incurred, as opposed to staggering the deduction over several years.

“That was the law until it expired,” Murphy said. “Developers used it pretty regularly...It’d be tailor made for Ansonia Copper and Brass.”

Ansonia Copper and Brass also known as Anaconda American Brass is a 43-acre deteriorating foundry complex that winds along Maple Street.

Cassetti sees development of the former brass plant, which sits on an active rail line as the gateway to a new downtown. As a result the city is attempting to auction the property off in August in lieu of the soon-to-be $1 million owed in taxes.

“That should be developed,” Murphy said. “I’d like to see the federal government partner in the clean-up.”

A second part of Murphy’s bill exempts developers from paying unrelated business income taxes on profits earned from the sale or exchange of brownfield properties.