By KAITLYN NAPLES
The 9.5 acres known as “the Chung property,” which is located at 311-349 New Britain Ave., across from the Connecticut Commons, has been on the market since John Senese bought it in 2011.
Over the years, the property has been the site of several businesses, including a Chinese restaurant, a used book and record store, and automotive shops.
This week, the Town Council was expected to have a public hearing on a recent proposal to give Senese, of Calco Construction, a $300,000 loan to start tearing down the remaining buildings on the property, which have been an eyesore for many years.
At a December council meeting, Town Manager Robert Lee said the $300,000 loan would be secured by a lien on the property.
The property is private, however Lee said he believes a partnership with the owner is needed if the town wants to see the property cleaned up and potentially developed.
“The immediate removal of the buildings will not only enhance the aesthetics of the property, it could also speed up the development of the property by making it more attractive to future tenants,” Lee said.
The property has become overgrown with brush and grass, and over the last 10 years, Lee said development on the property has not happened because of lawsuits between a developer and former owner, pollution on the property due to previous businesses, and the weak economy.
In the proposal, Senese would begin work on Feb. 1 and complete it within 60 days, starting with the removal of the buildings. After that, he would begin environmental cleanup of the property. The $300,000 would not be paid until the buildings are removed, Lee said, adding that Senese has said in previous meetings that he is reluctant to clean up the property without permanent tenants, and there may be a pricey cleanup cost since a previous business on the lot was an automotive shop.
Lee said if a 75,000 square foot building was constructed on the site, it would bring in an expected $158,000 in additional taxes, which would be used to pay back the $300,000 which is not expected to gain interest.
Lee said towns provide loans with liens, or some kind of tax abatement to developers for a few reasons. He said keeping Plainville attractive to developers and future businesses is a goal, especially when it is competing with surrounding towns that may have vacant lots more appealing. Another reason for a tax abatement would be for a business looking to enhance or build up their business in the first few years of its existence. A tax abatement also can be used for developers so they can speed up the development of a property, but also save money within the first few stages of that process. The proposal that was brought forward to the council is essentially a two-year tax abatement, Lee said, however no tax abatement would be requested for development of the site, just to demolish the buildings and clean up the property. The $300,000 loan would come out of the town’s undesignated fund balance and would require an additional appropriation for the 2013 budget.
The council was expected to hold a public hearing on the matter this past Monday evening at its regularly scheduled council meeting. After a public hearing, the council would make a decision on the matter, however the decision doesn’t have to be made the same night of the hearing. Any decisions made were not available at press time. Check back with The Plainville Observer (http://www.PlainvilleObserver.com) for an update.