Saturday, May 25, 2024
Regional News

A “New Town” TOD in Connecticut: The Gilbert & Bennett Wire Mill Redevelopment Project

Gilbert & Bennett Wire Mill

A Connecticut wire mill that went bankrupt after 180 years of operation has found new life thanks to Smart Growth and TOD. Established in 1818 in Georgetown, CT (part of the town of Redding), the Gilbert & Bennett Manufacturing Company filed for bankruptcy protection in 1998 after its once prosperous business of manufacturing wire industrial products fell victim to deindustrialization. In 2002, Redding found a partner, Georgetown Land Development Company (GLDC), to restore and revitalize the 55-acre site centered around a new Georgetown train station on the Metro North rail line. Duany, Plater-Zyberk was hired to design and implement the master plan, and active participation in the planning process was solicited from the community through a series of charrettes. The engagement of local interests brought about consensus for an ambitious “mixed and open community to celebrate the future.”

GLDC’s owner, Stephen Soler, said the creation of the new Georgetown will be guided by the principles of sustainable, “green” development. The village will include:

  • A pedestrian-friendly environment that collects traffic rather than creating it, featuring a village center, open public spaces and easy access to public transportation
  • A return of the Georgetown train station on the Metro North line with access to New York City
  • A diverse community with single-family houses, townhouses, affordable senior housing, artist-style lofts and affordable artist work/live lofts
  • A renovation of historically significant structures
  • A hydroelectric dam and power plant using the existing infrastructure for power
  • Functional green technology, including photovoltaics and green roofs
Georgetown. Courtesy of GLDC

In addition, Georgetown will offer:

  • Restaurants that are appropriate to the community
  • A health facility that features a 50-meter state-of-the-art pool
  • A multi-purpose performing arts center, in acknowledgement of the active local arts community
  • A strategically placed public safety facility
  • A wide assortment of quality retailers, selected to reflect the needs of local residents and complement the character of the village

“In short,” says Soler, “it’s the art of the possible. We’ve designed the kind of place where people will love to live, work and have fun.”

This comprehensive planning effort has not gone unnoticed. In November 2005, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) presented the prestigious National Award for Smart Growth Achievement to the town of Redding, CT for the Georgetown project. And, as evidence of this successful public-private partnership, Redding received a $600,000 federal Small Cities grant in February 2006 through the Connecticut Department of Economic Development to demolish and clean up three buildings on the Gilbert and Bennett site.

Groundbreaking is set for spring 2006 with an estimated completion date in 2009.