Redeveloping Waterbury’s old factories

By:  Jason Newton
WTNH News 8

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — A section of Waterbury was once the hub for the brass industry in America, but now just abandoned buildings remain at the former American Brass Company site. Here it’s sat for five decades; abandoned, blighted and contaminated relics of Waterbury’s mighty industrial past. Now the buildings are just taking up prime real estate, ripe for development and tax revenue, according to the city’s mayor.

“It’s an economic development driver, engine,” Mayor Neil O’Leary said. “We need these properties to come back for property tax reasons, for employment opportunities, commercial development, manufacturing opportunities.”

In the shadow of the dilapidated buildings, Mayor O’Leary and Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) discussed federal help with tax incentives designed to entice private developers. It would allow developers to fully deduct the cost of brownfield cleanup in the first year.

“To be able to take big tax savings in the first year rather than over a number of years might be the difference in making investment to clean up or staying away,” Murphy said.

With the Waterbury clock tower looming, the parcel of blighted land on Freight Street is considered prime for its quick access to Interstate 84 and Route 8. Political leaders said its development is crucial to the city’s future success. But so far, Murphy’s plan is only a bill, yet to be voted on or even discussed.

“I feel like we’re closer than ever before to taking this symbol of old Waterbury and turning it to a symbol of the new Waterbury,” Murphy said.