Lamont Gives Grant to Study Feasibility of Redeveloping Former Gilbert & Bennett Wire Mill

On Thursday, June 24Gov. Ned Lamont announced his administration is awarding more than $19 million in state grants to help with the costs of assessing and remediating 31 blighted properties across Connecticut for the purposes of putting them back into productive use.

Among the awards was one for $200,000 to assess the feasibility of redeveloping the former Gilbert and Bennett Manufacturing Company site in the Redding portion of Georgetown, at the North Wilton border.

The grants are from the CT Department of Economic and Community Development’s (DECD) Brownfield Remediation Program, which involves properties likely impacted with hazardous pollution or substances. The funding from the state is expected to leverage approximately $156 million in private funding and help in the investigation and clean-up of approximately 418 acres of land.

The $200,000 grant for the Gilbert and Bennett site covers only assessment activities at this point, and is the maximum amount allowed under the grant program.

“Cleaning up blighted properties that have been vacant for decades and putting them into productive use will ultimately generate back many more times the amount of these grants through private investments,” Lamont said. “If we remediate these properties now, we can turn an eyesore into an asset, revitalize neighborhoods, and transform otherwise unusable property into new space for businesses and residents.”

The property has been slated for redevelopment over the last two decades but has also been embroiled in a fight between developers and the town over unpaid taxes. After the site went into foreclosure, the town ultimately won the title to the site earlier this year, but its redevelopment plan that dates back to 2005 and needs to be updated.

Officials and residents have long hoped that a transit-oriented, pedestrian-friendly village could rise from the ruins of the former wire mill site. At various points over the years plans have included mixed commercial, retail and residential uses, as well as the construction of a new train station on Metro-North’s Danbury Line. Plans also would incorporate restoring historic structures and remediating any contamination.

The 50-acre property just off Rte. 7 dates back to the late 1800s when the founders made wire on the site during the Civil War. The factory was built in 1900.