September 30, 2016

CT Construction Digest Friday Septemebr 30, 2016

Senior center expected to get $5 million

SOUTHINGTON — The State Bond Commission is expected today to approve a $5 million grant to help build the town’s new senior center.
House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz, D–Berlin, Southington, and Rep. David Zoni, D–Southington, announced the expected approval in a press release.
“I have been working with the town and the Southington Senior Citizens Commission on this initiative since 2014, and I am very excited that we are now almost at the construction phase,” said Aresimowicz. “This funding will enable the town to build a senior center that our seniors deserve. The new building will be able to cater to our ever growing elder population and will be utilized and enjoyed by our current and next generation senior citizens of Southington.”
The funds will be used to build a new 22,000 square foot Calendar House Senior Center and demolish the existing building. The project is expected to cost a total of $9 million.
The new building will allow the town to centralize the administrative offices, build rooms to accommodate class sizes and make it ADA compatible, provide additional space for new activities and social services and use the space as the town’s primary emergency shelter.
In January 2014, Southington received a $200,000 state grant to perform a needs and feasibility study on how to best expand the Calendar House Senior Center. The town expects to present the final design plan to the Planning and Zoning Commission in October. Construction is hoped to begin in March 2017.
“This is the definition of property tax relief as it directly reduces the burden on Southington residents,” said Town Manager Garry Brumback. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

CTfastrak expansion construction not likely until 2019

CTfastrak's expansion study, presented publicly this week, shows construction work on projects to extend the current 9.4 mile bus line east likely will not begin until early 2019, depending on funding available for implementation.
The planned proposals to expand the busway service east include adding stops in East Hartford, Manchester, Vernon, Tolland and Storrs, connecting with existing CTfastrak service to create a public transportation corridor that runs from Waterbury in the west to UConn Storrs in the east.
The UConn Storrs-Hartford route has estimated annual operating costs of $1.4 million, while the Burnside Avenue corridor is estimated at $2.8 million. A Buckland Hills shuttle estimate of operating costs comes in at $998,000.
The UConn Storrs-Hartford route could begin operating in August of 2017 for service, but some design and construction work would remain for the park-and-ride lot, said Lisa Rivers, transit manager for Connecticut Department of Transportation.
The timetable for fiscal 2018-19 improvements includes continued vehicle procurement through late 2017; awarding station design and contractor work starting in early 2017; beginning to expand eastern services in late 2017, and beginning station construction in early 2019. The projects are anticipated to extend into 2020.

Former Developer Takes Steps To Keep Work Stopped At Dunkin' Donuts Park

Plans to resume work at Dunkin' Donuts Park may be once again in jeopardy.
On Thursday, the day after a new developer was chosen to finish the park, original stadium contractor Centerplan Construction Co. filed an emergency motion in court to prevent work from resuming.
Arch Insurance, the company guaranteeing completion of the ballpark, said Wednesday that Whiting-Turner had been chosen to finish the stadium and that work was expected to resume next week in preparation for the Yard Goats' opening day next April.
Whiting-Turner is replacing former developers, Centerplan and DoNo Hartford, to finish building the $71 million, publicly financed baseball stadium.  The city terminated Centerplan in June after the developers missed a May 17 deadline to hand the ballpark over to the Hartford Yard Goats for a planned May 31 home opener. The team went on to play its entire inaugural season on the road.
Centerplan sued the city claiming wrongful termination and also sued Yard Goats owner Josh Solomon, claiming that he interfered in their business relationship with the city.
On Thursday, Centerplan attorneys filed an emergency motion to preserve evidence in both suits and keep work stopped at the ballpark.
The motion seeks to preserve the ballpark in its present condition because it is critical to its legal actions in both cases and seeks access to the ballpark to document current conditions.
The request says that alterations would hurt Centerplan's cases against the city and Solomon. "We don't want to stop construction," Centerplan attorney Raymond Garcia said. "We just want to take pictures of the existing conditions to preserve evidence. This is a simple matter that should not affect the progress of construction."
Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin dismissed Centerplan's court action.
"This latest lawsuit from Centerplan has no legal basis and is a nonissue," he said. "We look forward to working with the new contractor, Whiting-Turner — a responsible company with a great reputation and extensive experience building stadiums." CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Old East Haven High School to be turned into senior housing after council approves plans

EAST HAVEN >> After remaining vacant for nearly 20 years, the former site of East Haven High School is set to be renovated into a mixed-use, senior housing complex.  During a special meeting Thursday night, the Town Council voted 12-1 to authorize Mayor Joseph Maturo Jr. to sign a Development and Property Disposition Agreement between WinnDevelopment Limited Partnership and the town for a proposal to renovate the 240,000-square-foot 200 Tyler St. property.
The council also voted to waive the town’s competitive bidding requirements for the sale of the high school property.District 4 Councilwoman Letizia Lettieri-Morales was the only member who voted against the two motions. Councilmen Henry Butler III and Gary DePalma were absent from Thursday night’s meeting. WinnDevelopment, based out of Boston, is proposing to build 70 housing units – 20 market rate and 50 affordable – for seniors ages 55 and older to independently live in the former high school. While many of the former school’s classrooms and auditorium will be renovated into senior housing, the facility’s pool and gymnasium is set to remain under municipal ownership. Through its proposal, WinnDevelopment will contribute an acquisition price the town can utilize to upgrade the pool and gym facilities.  According to Town Council Chairman Frank Parlato, the town has received approximately $32 million in bonding for the project. Direct construction costs are estimated to total $22 million.  But even though the property has not been included in the town’s tax rolls for nearly 20 years, the proposal to renovate the former high school building into senior housing was met with concern from members of the public.  For David Defelice, if this project is given the green light, neighboring residents want to be assured that their homes will be protected from asbestos.  “I would like, when the time comes, to find out what is going to be done so that our houses won’t be contaminated,” Defelice asked. “I know more about that school property than anyone sitting here. There’s a dirt basement that is loaded with asbestos.” CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Opposition still strong against Qunnipiac University’s plan to rehab athletic field; public hearing continues Oct. 18

HAMDEN >> The opposition to Quinnipiac University’s plans to build athletic fields on Mount Carmel Avenue came out in force this week for the Planning and Zoning Commission’s public hearing on the second field proposed for the site that was once already denied.
Tuesday’s meeting, when the public hearing on the application was opened, had to be continued when it ran past 11 p.m., according to Town Planner Dan Kops. North Haven attorney John Lambert, who is representing some of those residents living around the fields, was about to speak when the commission decided to continue the public hearing until Oct. 18, he said. The commission has a policy of not allowing meetings to go past 11 p.m. “The opposition hadn’t finished talking when it got to be past 11 p.m.,” Kops said, so it was decided that the public hearing would be continued. Quinnipiac officials, including attorney Bernard Pelligrino and several consultants, had presented the plans to the commission before it was opened to the public, he said. While there wasn’t anyone who spoke in favor of the application, there were many wanting to speak against it, he said. The fields have been before Hamden land use boards for more than a year. A previous application to install lighting higher than the regulations allow was denied. The university then filed applications to renovate the two existing fields and add stadiums around them — one with a 1,500-seat capacity and the other accommodating 500 people. The stadiums also will include locker and bathroom facilities, a press box and maintenance and storage areas. That prompted considerable resident opposition, especially from members of the Sleeping Giant Park Association, who urged the commission to “Let the Giant Sleep.” The construction of the stadiums would attract more fans than the fields currently do, they contend, and increased traffic and their cheers will disrupt those hiking Sleeping Giant, which is located across the street from the fields. One resident hired attorney Keith Ainsworth to file for intervenor status, which gives them a legal standing in the proceedings. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE


September 29, 2016

CT Construction Digest Thursday September 29, 2016


A cheaper fix for the Walk Bridge

Could it really cost $1 billion to replace the 562 foot long Walk Railroad Bridge in South Norwalk? Or is there a cheaper alternative that state Department of Transportation is hiding from us?
This 120-year-old swing bridge sometimes refuses to close, stranding thousands of Metro-North Railroad and Amtrak riders. Any problems it suffers affects commuters from Bridgeport to Greenwich and travelers throughout the northeast corridor. It is crucial to the US economy. And hey, it’s your tax dollars, whether you live along the New Haven line and commute daily or call Danbury home and never CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
MERIDEN — Another piece of downtown real estate could be getting a $1.2 million makeover with some help from the Come Home to Downtown program.
The former home of Fischer’s Fine Foods at 21 Colony St. was selected for the program after the owner of 1-3 Colony St. decided not to participate. Owner John LaRosa, whose family’s construction company developed the Meriden Green, became interested after seeing what Come Home to Downtown did for his neighbor.
“We gave a presentation on the results of the work we had done at 1 Colony St.,” said John Simone, president and chief executive officer of Connecticut Main Street Center. “He was impressed with the work. He brought so much to the table because he is a developer. After getting to know him it was clear he was committed and a good choice.”
In 2012, the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority contracted Connecticut Main Street Center to develop and administer the Come Home to Downtown program with the aim of bringing more housing downtown by assisting the owners of small properties to redevelop their underutilized buildings into housing above commercial space.
The Come Home to Downtown program gives property owners free architectural design work, and a study on what needs to be done to rehabilitate the mixed-used properties and provides cost estimates. The agency also helps research potential sources of financing, for instance historical tax credits.
“We work on where the money is going to come from,” Simone said. “Each owner has different options available.”
 The four-story building has been vacant for several years but has been kept in shape, it was built in 1889 and contains 12 apartment units and 6,000 square feet of retail. It’s most well known for being the home of Fischer’s, a lunch counter that drew downtown business and Millie’s Corset Shoppe, a lingerie shop in the next door store front. 
LaRosa said Tuesday, he doesn’t have definitive plans for the building but is working on financing the rehabilitation.
“I’m very much behind it,” LaRosa said. “I’m putting together the financing now.” CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
A new contractor has been chosen to finish Dunkin' Donuts Park, and work is expected to resume next week, an Arch Insurance official said Wednesday.
The new contractor will be Baltimore-based Whiting-Turner Contracting Co., which has extensive experience in building sports venues, said Patrick Nails, a senior vice president with Arch Insurance, the company guaranteeing completion of the ballpark.
Whiting-Turner officials have already been on-site to review the work that still needs to be done, Nails said in an email to The Courant on Wednesday afternoon. Both Whiting crews and subcontractors who have previously worked on the stadium should be on the job beginning next week, he said.
Nails said Whiting-Turner brings extensive experience with sports and recreational facilities "which it will use to complete construction of the ballpark so that we can bring baseball to Hartford next year."
The company's construction portfolio features more than a dozen sports and fitness projects. They include the home of the NFL's Baltimore Ravens; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's East Campus Athletic Village, which includes an outdoor football stadium and an indoor basketball arena; and a basketball practice facility at Baylor University in Texas. In Connecticut, the company has worked on the Connecticut Science Center, Hartford's Front Street and the Hartford Classical Magnet School, as well as on projects at Yale, Middlesex Hospital and Norwalk Community College.
"These were complex negotiations, and Arch Insurance appreciates the cooperation of the city of Hartford, the mayor's office, and Eastern League to bring them to conclusion," Nails said. "A lot of work remains to be done to complete the park, but we look forward to working with all parties to bring baseball to Hartford in April 2017." CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Manchester Tears Down Former Restaurant For Park Gateway

A vacant restaurant that stood between Center Springs Park and Broad Street was leveled Wednesday, and plans for a landscaped park gateway are moving forward.
The town bought the former Miku Asian Bistro & Sushi Bar this year for $605,000 to complete a connection between the 55-acre park and the town-owned side of the Manchester Parkade. The first part of the gateway was done last year with the installation of a pedestrian bridge over a cut in the old railroad embankment that carries the Cheney Rail Trail.
For the restaurant demolition, directors approved using $100,000 from a bond for Broad Street redevelopment. Part of the $8 million bond, which voters approved in 2009, also was used to tear down the blighted shopping center on the 18 acres once known as the "dark side" of the Parkade.
The town has a conceptual plan for the park gateway, and once final plans are completed, the construction job likely will go out to bid in January, planning and economic development Director Mark Pellegrini said. A conservative estimate on construction costs is $270,000, Pellegrini said.
Beginning in the spring, the 1.9-acre site at 363 Broad St. is to be transformed, with shade trees, shrubs and ground cover. A parking area for about 12 cars will be built, and the area will include benches, Pellegrini said. The goal, he said, is to create an inviting, welcoming portal to the park that will complement efforts to redevelop the town-owned side of the Manchester Parkade. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
ANSONIA >> A “real gem” on Prindle Avenue made its public debut this week.
The newly renovated and expanded campus of Emmett O’Brien Technical High School, at 141 Prindle Ave., met with rave reviews from the community Tuesday. The school received a $94 million makeover, which added 48,000 square feet of new space and renovations to 172,000 square feet of existing space. The state Board of Education approved the project in 2003, and construction began in 2014. The revamped school, which houses 574 students in grades 9-12, features a new academic wing and cafeteria with state-of-the-art kitchen for the culinary arts programs, one of the school’s 11 trade programs. All the shops, from engineering and drafting to the hairdressing/cosmetology and health technology areas, received a major reboot, providing students with the skills they need to enter the workforce. The school’s exterior was also given a modern-day facelift, which many have likened to a “space odyssey” look, complete with sleek steel components and curved lines. The school was used as the backdrop for Valley United Way to kick off its 49th annual community campaign, where organizations, corporations and the public are encouraged to donate to ensure Valley nonprofit organizations receive much needed funds. The goal is to raise $1 million to enable VUW to provide help to programs and organizations that make a difference in the lives of people living and working in the Valley. More information can be found at
VUW President and CEO Jack Walsh, who is retiring in November after 40 years in the organization, the last 27 as its top chief, thanked Iroquois Pipeline for sponsoring the kick-off. He said hosting the event at Emmett, which drew more than 100 people, was a real treat. “This is like a homecoming for me,” said Walsh, who served as an assistant basketball coach here under former coach and teacher Rich Marazzi, a member of the school’s original staff. Marazzi, on hand with his wife, Loisann, the school’s first female teacher in 1970, couldn’t believe the school’s transformation. “It’s absolutely beautiful,” said Marazzi, who taught and coached from 1968 until 1997, while Loisann called it “a real gem.” CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE 

Construction Employment Increases in Three-Fifths of Nation's Metro Areas

"While the number of metro areas with employment increases has been slipping, the number with decreases—76 in August—has held roughly steady," said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. "Meanwhile, job openings have been at a 10-year high but hiring has stalled in many parts of the country. Together, these facts make it clear that the slowdown in hiring has more to do with workforce shortages than shortages of work."
Construction employment increased in 220, or 61 percent, of 358 metro areas in the past year, held steady in 62 areas, and declined in 76 areas. The number of areas with gains was the smallest since April 2013, the economist noted. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo. added the most construction jobs during the past year (11,400 jobs, 12 percent), followed by Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine, Calif. (10,200 jobs, 11 percent); Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Fla. (10,200 jobs, 17 percent); Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Ga. (7,700 jobs, 7 percent) and Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, Calif. (7,400 jobs, 14 percent). The largest percentage gains occurred in Boise City, Idaho (24 percent, 4,500 jobs) and Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford.
The largest job losses from August 2015 to August 2016 were in Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas (-3,700 jobs, -2 percent), followed by Birmingham-Hoover, Ala. (-1,500 jobs, -6 percent) and Louisville-Jefferson County, Ky. (-1,400 jobs, -5 percent). The largest percentage declines for the past year were in Bloomington, Ill. (-16 percent, -500 jobs); Anniston-Oxford-Jacksonville, Ala. (-11 percent, -100 jobs); Dothan, Ala. (-11 percent, -300 jobs); and Lawton, Okla. (-11 percent, -200 jobs).
Association officials said the new construction employment figures, combined with recent data on job openings in the sector, make it clear that firms in many parts of the country are having a hard time finding enough workers to hire. They added that the data is consistent with survey results the association released last month showing two-thirds of construction firms are having a hard time finding qualified craft workers to hire. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE


September 28, 2016

CT Construction Digest Wednesday September 28, 2016

Projects across area await final word

HARTFORD — A number of area projects are among the 43 agenda items that will come before the State Bond Commission on Friday.
More than $682 million in bonding will be considered in proposals from municipalities around the state that range from open space acquisitions to capital improvement projects.
The Office of Policy and Management has requested more than $20 million to fund grants-in-aid for urban development projects, including $2.5 million to aid Community Mental Health Affiliates upgrade its New Britain location (see related story). The allocation will be distributed through the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.
An additional request from the department, totaling $237,652, will support energy efficiency improvements at the Plainville Community Food Pantry on South Canal Street. If approved, funding would upgrade windows, doors, insulation and air conditioners, and pay for the installation of solar panels.
A $5 million grant-in-aid would fund a little more than half of the $9.6 million construction of a new 22,000-square-foot senior center in Southington. The work at the Calendar House is planned to include the demolition of the original portion of the Pleasant Street facility. Town funds are covering $4.6 million of the project.
The Department of Education is requesting $6 million to assist low-performing schools in tackling physical improvements as well as acquiring new technology and equipment. New Britain’s Pulaski Middle School is among 23 schools that would benefit from the funding. The request earmarks $97,000 for the Farmington Avenue school.
Meanwhile, the Board of Regents for Higher Education is requesting a bond authorization of $6 million to attend to deferred maintenance, code compliance and infrastructure improvements at four state universities including Central Connecticut State University. Alterations and improvements would include the restoration of academic facilities, upgrading safety systems and other ground improvements. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Developers, state officials tour downtown Meriden, learn about upcoming projects

MERIDEN — City officials sought to explain economic development projects in the pipeline Tuesday, and called for suggestions for the future in a presentation to downtown stakeholders, development partners and representatives from the state Department of Economic and Community Development.
City Economic Development Director Juliet Burdelski and Midstate Chamber of Commerce President Sean Moore led about 25 participants on a walk Tuesday from City Hall to the Meriden Green and across the Silver City Bridge to view construction of the train station and a development project at 24 Colony St. before a reception at Gallery 53.
“We have to look at the retail space and think about what is the best for recovery,” Burdelski said.
The city recently hired BL Companies to conduct a market study of commercial space for uses that would generate foot traffic and a thriving downtown. BL Companies has a long history with the city stemming from its work on the City Center Initiative in 2002.
“It’s great to see activity and projects happening,” said Geoff Fitzgerald, a planning grant consultant for BL Companies. “It’s right up our alley.”
Retail users in downtown should fit the needs of residents in surrounding neighborhoods, he said. National chain restaurants and shops are not necessary to restore foot traffic. The train station makes the city a great commuter stop and parking spaces at the garage under construction at 24 Colony St. add convenience, he said.
“You have the potential for capturing daily commuters,” Fitzgerald said.
The Meriden Housing Authority partnered with the city, state and Westmount Development to construct a commercial and residential development at 24 Colony St. The project, which relies on low-income housing tax credits, is nearing completion. The city recently learned that another project put together through a partnership with the MHA and Pennrose Properties at 177 State St. will likely be awarded $5.7 million in state funds during Friday’s State Bond Commission meeting.
The challenging part of remaking downtown involves filling the commercial space under development and enticing developers to build more market-rate housing that doesn’t always qualify for public financing. Getting there could mean $20 million more in state and federal funding to make more sites investor ready, according to Burdelski.
About $5 million is necessary for soil remediation and the removal of hazardous materials at the former Meriden-Wallingford Hospital on Cook Avenue. City officials are meeting with an unnamed prospective developer to discuss the property next week, Burdelski said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
North Stonington — The Board of Selectmen voted Tuesday night to begin contract negotiations with Downes Construction Co. of New Britain as the construction manager for the $38.5 million renovation of the town's schools, following approval by the School Modernization Committee.
The committee issued a request for proposals in August. The committee members narrowed the eight bidders down before selecting Downes, which they said ranked highest by their criteria, and also offered a much lower price than the next best proposal.
Construction managers typically are used for projects of this size, said School Modernization Committee Chairman Mike Urgo, and this is the model preferred by the state.
As part of the proposal, representatives from the company must be present at meetings, and the School Modernization Committee will be involved as the company bids out various parts of the project.
The construction manager model also must be approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which will loan the town money for the project through its Rural Development program.
"Getting their approval will not be an issue; the committee has done their homework," First Selectman Shawn Murphy said.

West Haven PZC denies property owners application for The Haven upscale outlet mall

WEST HAVEN >> The Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously Tuesday night to deny an application by two sets of holdout property owners for The Haven upscale outlet mall to change the city’s zoning regulations to require a special permit before a regional shopping center can be built in the waterfront design zone.
The vote came after the continuation of a public hearing which began Sept. 13. Most of the speakers Tuesday night were residents who wanted to see The Haven built and said they opposed the holdouts’ proposed text change.An attorney for holdouts Robert McGinnity and members of his family, who own houses at 341 First Ave. and 349 First Ave., and SZS Enterprises LLC, the owner of the Citgo station at Elm Street and First Avenue, said afterwards that he was disappointed.“It would have been a benefit” to the West Haven community “if they had approved the text change,” said Brian R. Smith, of Robinson & Cole of Hartford. He said he didn’t yet know what the next step would be, but would confer with his clients. Another Robinson & Cole attorney, Evan Seeman, earlier had told the commission that requiring a special permit, with its requirement for a public hearing, added an extra layer of review and protection for what would be a major project.
An attorney for developer The Haven Group, LLC, Ray Bershstein, said afterward, “Our client just wants to build this project.” Earlier, the two sides had parried over a protest The Haven Group had filed to the application and the developer’s contention that the holdouts were throwing an “eleventh-hour” obstacle in to try to slow down the process.Seeman alleged during the hearing that The Haven Group hadn’t attained the threshold of owning 20 percent of the property within the project area, which was necessary to have standing to file such a protest.  He also said his clients’ application actually came “in the first hour” because The Haven Group had yet to submit its plans. Bershstein in turn questioned Seeman’s research, pointing out that a list of property owners he referred to actually was just a printout from the Vision Appraisal online assessor’s records database, as opposed to research of the land records. Seeman, in response to a question from city Corporation Counsel Vin Amendola as to whether he went to the land records “or just used assessor’s sheets,” said he used “just the assessor’s sheets.” CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE 

September 27, 2016

CT Construction Digest Tuesday September 2, 2016

Fairfield planing to build a ‘new’ Alumni Hall

A brand new, state-of-the-art arena, right in the center of campus. An arena that would seat between 3,500 and 4,500 for sporting events and even more for graduations, lectures and concerts. An arena that would be the crowning jewel to an athletic footprint that already includes a new lacrosse stadium, renovated soccer and baseball fields and an upgraded recreation center.
Can you picture it? Fairfield University certainly can. In the Fall 2016 issue of Fairfieldmagazine — which was mailed to alumni on Sept. 13 — features a story entitled “The Master Plan,” which features the university’s vision to grow, and vastly improve, its overall footprint through various projects, including a parking garage, new residence hall, expansion of the Barone Campus Center and a new Alumni Hall, which would become the centerpiece of a continued commitment toward athletic excellence.
“The campus-wide master plan is transforming our academic, living and learning and athletic facilities over the next 10 years,” Fairfield University president Father Jeffery von Arx S.J., said in a statement. “We are excited about the potential for a new convocation and athletic center on campus that will be an integral part of our student life and athletic prominence.”
“This is something that we’ve always wanted,” Fairfield athletic director Gene Doris said. “The ability to have a first-class facility on your own campus … the excitement is very high.”
The permanent seating capacity for the new Alumni Hall would be somewhere between 3,500 and 4,500, which according to Doris, “is pretty much the right size for the mid-major level.”
Women’s basketball and volleyball would be the primary tenants with the possibility of an occasional men’s basketball game. But sports would only be one part of the building’s use.
“We have to look at it as a multi-use space and space that achieves university goals as opposed to just athletic goals,” Doris said. “There’s nothing definite in terms of use. It will be much more of a convocation center because we just don’t have anything like that on campus.” CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Derby High in line for $3 million athletic facility

DERBY — New facilities for track and field, baseball and other Derby High School sports are once again on the fast track.
The State Bond Commission is scheduled to vote Friday on a $3 million grant-in-aid package for the city to make improvements to athletic facilities at the high school. The funds were on the agenda in May but not acted upon.
The grant requested by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection will pay for the construction of a new multipurpose artificial turf field with a rubberized surface and an eight-lane running track surrounding it, according to the agenda for Friday’s bond commission meeting.
The Derby legislative delegation of state Senator Joe Crisco, Jr., D-Woodbridge and state Representatives Theresa Conroy, D-Seymour, and Linda Gentile, D-Ansonia, Derby, announced that the State Bond Commission approval is expected for that project, including construction of a baseball field off of Kings Court.
“I played sports throughout high school and college, so I know how much pride students and parents take in their athletic achievements as well as their academic achievements,’’ Crisco said. “It’s a source of pride for the entire town, too. The kids in Derby deserve this. They’ve gone on long enough without sufficient athletic facilities, and I want to see them succeed and be happy. I think this state bonding will help accomplish that.”
“Replacement of the high school’s athletic field and track is critical to the health and well-being of our young people,” Gentile said. “Athletics plays a critical role in their overall development, especially during their secondary school years. I am very pleased that the state is approving these funds for the Derby high school community.” CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

New Stamford Hospital officially opens

STAMFORD — Pat Agostino has been a nurse long enough to remember the old Stamford Hospital emergency room. The one before the last one.
A nurse for 49 years, she worked in the oldest ER from 1967 to 1974, and in the last one from 1974 until 7 a.m. Monday.
“I used to say that they built this place around me,” she said, seconds before hospital president and CEO Brian Grissler snipped the red ribbon outside the newest ER.
“We started out with two surgical rooms, one orthopedic room and four medical rooms,” she said.
With 48 private rooms, the new ER is three times larger than the former department, which saw its last patients early Monday morning.
The new ER admitted its first patient at 7:10 a.m. Monday, a young woman who complained of stomach pain and was released a short time later.
“The idea is to treat people quickly, but what’s most important is to treat them safely,” said Dr. Arun Nandi, ER chairman and director. “Speed is a product of quality care. If you do it right, speed is inevitable.”
The ER’s opening marked the hospital’s official transition from being headquartered at what will now be called the Wheeler building to a new $450 million facility located on the same campus.
Hospital staff celebrated with a midday ribbon-cutting ceremony at the ambulance bay, the sounds of construction still clanging in the distance. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Cheshire PZC approves solar farm for landfill site

CHESHIRE — The Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved a solar panel array for the town landfill Monday.
SolarCity officials and their representatives presented details of the plan to the commission and answered questions about panel ownership, maintenance and whether the landfill cap could be harmed by the construction.
SolarCity and the town will execute a 20-year agreement where the town would buy the reduced-cost power generated by the panels at the landfill at 1286 Waterbury Road.
Mike Libertine, an environmental consultant with SolarCity, said the site was a good one since it’s clear and trees are casting shadows over the panels. He said the site would be surrounded by a chain link fence and is already screened from neighboring properties by trees.
“It’s our feeling there’s sufficient mask,” Libertine said.
The company will build about 4 acres of solar panels and manage them for 20 years. Commissioners and members of the public questioned whether the town would be responsible for the panels at the end of the agreement. “At the end of the useful life of the solar panels, who’s going to take them out?” said Jim Vibert.
Town Engineer Walter Gancarz said at the end of the agreement period, the town can buy the panels, continue to buy power from SolarCity or require the company to remove them.
“The town has all three options and in any case wouldn’t be liable for the removal of them,” he said.
Commission members and members of the public also questioned whether installing solar panels could cause contamination due the landfill underneath the proposed site.
Libertine said the cap consists of about two feet of low-permeability soil. There’s no plastic cap that can be penetrated, he said, and any ruts made by construction equipment can be filled. To avoid that, tracked or balloon tire vehicles will be used. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
The sight of construction and work crews along Pratt Street in downtown Hartford since April has been frustrating for merchants, landlords, motorists and pedestrians.
But the city says the approximately $1 million resurfacing of the one-way thoroughfare linking Main and Trumbull streets is on schedule and nearly finished.
City Hall spokeswoman Diana Tomezsko said via email Sept. 20 that the remaining work involves replacing some of the remaining granite pavers with bricks within the next two weeks.
"This is within the timeframe originally negotiated between the city and its contractor,'' Tomezsko said.
Pratt Street's upgrades included more than just new pavers, she said. While the street was torn up, Comcast laid a high-speed, fiber-optic cable beneath it, infrastructure valued at $250,000, Tomezsko said. In addition, Aetna contributed $400,000 toward the work bill.
City officials, including the Public Works Department, met Sept. 15 with a few dozen Pratt merchants and landlords, to update them about the streetscape work and hear their concerns.
Attendee Gerry Grate, owner of The Tobacco Shop, 89 Pratt St., said his is one of a number of Pratt Street businesses that have lost foot traffic and sales during the makeover. They insisted on meeting with the city, Grate said, because "there has been no transparency, no communication'' with them about the streetwork and a timetable for completion.
"We got answers to some of our questions,'' said Grate, past president of Business for Downtown Hartford, an advocacy group. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Construction of boathouse breathing life back into New Haven’s Long Wharf waterfront

NEW HAVEN >> With the Boathouse at Canal Dock starting to become visible behind them, Karen Gilvarg and Donna Hall got to take a rare public bow Monday as the planners who shepherded the project for almost two decades.
Construction of the boathouse by Nosal Builders is finally underway almost a decade after the George Adee Memorial Boathouse was razed as part of the $2.2 billion expansion of Interstate 95 and the Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge.John Pescatore, who heads the agency that will run the boathouse, called Gilvarg, New Haven’s city plan director, and Hall, the senior project planner “our two greatest partners,” who “have poured their lives into this project.”“I have become aware of how complicated a project like this can be when you have to tie together so many agencies. ... the patience ... and the dedication that they have shown to bringthis project to where it is now, is really impressive,” Pescatore said, one of several tributes to the pair.  Those who landed the congressional funding, engaged in the bureaucrat reviews and designed the new structure were at the site on Long Wharf Drive. The occasion was the official kickoff of phase two of the boathouse following construction in 2015 of the one-acre platform upon which the 32,000-square-foot two-story boathouse will rest.
The boathouse will be a public facility where non-motorized boating programs, including rowing, kayaking, canoe paddling and sailing will take place, as well as environmental education. Preparatory programs at three city high schools are already under way. The University of New Haven will also be on the site as part of its marine program. “This is a success story of governments working together,” said Matthew Nemerson, economic development administrator for New Haven, of the cooperation among federal, state and local partners. The site was once the terminus for the Farmington Canal Line where freight was transferred from canal barges to sailing ships. Later, goods were delivered on the railroad that took the place of the canal, Mayor Toni Harp told the crowd. It is now the end point for the Farmington Canal Greenway.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

September 26, 2016

CT Construction Digest Monday September 26, 2016

Hartford's Front Street Development Could Enter Final Phase Next Spring

The city's Front Street development — under construction for years — could see its final piece start falling into place, as soon as next spring.
The fourth and last phase of Front Street — 54 apartments over 10,000 square feet of storefront space — is envisioned for the narrow strip of parking lots sandwiched between Arch Street and the Whitehead Highway, across from the University of Connecticut campus now under construction.
Front Street's developer, Greenwich-based HB Nitkin Group, has opened negotiations with the Capital Region Developent Authority to secure financing for a portion of the estimated $20 million project from taxpayer-backed funding. CRDA funding — possibly a loan — could cover as much as a quarter of the cost. Peter Christian, Nitkin's director of development, said Nitkin intended to wait until the UConn campus was completed in the fall of next year. But the pace of apartment leasing at the new Front Street Lofts — now 98 percent occupied after less than a year — and elsewhere downtown has spurred on the move to complete the last phase of the mixed-use development sooner than expected, Christian said. "If everything goes according to plan, we would break ground next spring," Christian said. Construction would take about a year, he added.
Discussions with CRDA are at an early stage, and, if approved, would tap into funds earmarked to promote new housing downtown. It is likely the building would be two or three stories tall, with storefronts catering to the needs of college students that will attend the new UConn campus, Christian said.  Front Street — part of the larger Adriaen's Landing dating to late 1990s — was intended to both provide entertainment options for conventioneers but also create a neighborhood that would link the riverfront to the rest of downtown.
"One of the challenges we had, and it has been overcome, is that there were gaps," said Brendan J. Fox Jr., who served as executive director of the Capital City Economic Development Authority from 1998 to 2003. "You had to provide people a place to go where there wasn't a mile of space where there wasn't anything to do. I think that's coming to fruition." CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Casino Site Reopener: Tribes Want To Get It Right

When it comes to saving Connecticut jobs and revenue, the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes only have one chance to get things right. That's why we have reopened our search for proposals as we plan for the construction of a casino in the Hartford area to compete with the $950 million MGM Resorts International casino and entertainment complex now under construction in Springfield.
It's our concern for making a good choice of location for the casino that's guided us as we've spent the last few months carefully deliberating and going through the due diligence that an investment of $200 to $300 million demands. 
We know that everyone is eager to get shovels in the ground, and so are we. But given the changes that were made to some existing proposals over the last few weeks, we believe the fairest way to move this process forward is to reopen the request for proposals. This will allow existing applicants or other interested municipalities the opportunity to change their applications or submit a new proposal. We've set a deadline of noon on Oct. 15 for these new or amended proposals. 
MMCT, the joint venture formed last year by the Mashantucket Pequots and the Mohegans, has already received some extremely promising applications, and in recent weeks two of these proposals have been significantly amended. Now, an East Hartford casino could lead to a partnership with the Radisson Hotel, and a Windsor Locks casino could be located at one of three new sites.
While it's taken longer than we expected, our goal hasn't changed. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Marine construction firm has plan for River Street Site

NEW HAVEN >> A proposed marine use for a parcel on the Quinnipiac River has the support of neighbors and officials who have long waited for an appropriate use for the site.
Patel Construction LLC plans to purchase the seven-acre site at 24 River St. and a portion of 36 River St. along the shoreline and bring in as its tenant Cambridge Marine Construction.The plan is to raze the former Seaboard Oil company headquarters at 24 River St. and replace it with a three-story rectangular metal building. Extra parts for the boats and tools used by Cambridge will be stored at the rear of the first floor, with the upper story occupied by offices.The proposed site plan submitted to the City Plan Commission shows a glass storefront window system which will wrap around from the River Street side to the western portion on Ferry Street. There is also a proposed plaza with plantings and benches in front of the entrance on River Street.
The Ferry Street side will feature decorative steel beams, smooth accent blocks and metal siding, according to the plan, with a 5-foot concrete base for the whole structure. The metal will be the color of brick to match the Brewery Square building across the way. The property will be used as an active yard for boat and marine construction equipment storage, maintenance and repair. The project site at the corner of River and Ferry streets also consists of a sheet pile bulkhead and a riprap revetment, or retaining wall, along the river. The plans call for constructing bulkheads along the waterfront of both properties. Patel, in his application to the city, said there will be an estimated 10 Cambridge Marine employees at the property, although Cambridge hopes to hire more. The property is within the River Street Municipal Development Plan, but it is not a parcel slated for acquisition and redevelopment by the city itself. Economic Development Officer Helen Rosenberg said she hopes the private deal attracts similar businesses. “Once they are there and they have built this new building, it might draw other uses, similar or ancillary,” Rosenberg said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE 

September 23, 2016

CT Construction Digest Friday September 23, 2016

Connecticut projects touched by NY indictments

A developer was dropped from the long-delayed half-billion dollar Stamford Transportation Center project Thursday and the builder of the Oxford power plant is facing increased scrutiny after each was indicted in a federal bribery-and-corruption scheme in New York State.
L.P. Ciminelli Construction Corp., headed by Louis Ciminelli, has been dropped from the Stamford project, although a related real estate firm, whose president is Louis’s brother Paul Ciminelli, remains associated with it, Ben Barnes, secretary of Connecticut’s Office of Policy and Management, announced.
“The state Department of Transportation is doing its diligence now as part of the negotiations to ensure that none of the individuals involved in the project have anything to do with the New York case,” said Barnes, who has been involved in negotiations for the development which was announced in the summer of 2013 and had been scheduled for construction to begin more than two years ago. Also indicted was Peter G. Kelly, whose company is building the CPV Towantic Energy Center power plant in Oxford. Kelly, an executive for the Maryland-based Competitive Power Ventures, Inc., is the son of prominent Hartford lawyer Peter Kelly, a longtime Democratic power broker and fundraiser.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Mayor: Main Street construction in Ansonia will be first in nearly 30 years

ANSONIA — It has been decades since city residents saw any new construction downtown.
That will change in the coming weeks with the work that will begin soon on a new two-story building to house Massimino’s Pizzeria, across from the business’ current location at 70 Main St.
“We’re definitely excited,” said Anna Andretta, whose family owns the Italian eatery.
Mayor David Cassetti, whose company is serving as contractor on the project, said he hadn’t seen new construction on Main Street since he did work on an office building at 158 Main St. in 1987.
“This is the first new building in almost 30 years,” Cassetti said.
Cassetti’s company recently dug a hole on the vacant property in preparation for construction.
Andretta said her father, Massimo Andretta, has dreamed of expanding his storefront restaurant into a larger, stand-alone business for years. “It’s going to be bigger,” Anna Andretta said. “It’s going to be more upscale. And we’re going to have a private room upstairs to rent for parties.”
Andretta said customers have been requesting additional space for family functions for years. “They like the authenticity and the homey aspect of coming here,” she said. “We are expanding thanks to their loyalty.”
Sheila O’Malley, economic development director for the city, said the development is an exciting addition to the downtown, which has seen its share of economic development in recent years with new restaurants and mixed-use projects underway.
“I think what you’re seeing is kind of an awakening on Main Street,” she said. “You have a lot going on with (developers) Jerry Nocerino and Charles Smith working nearby.”
The developers are working on converting the former Ansonia Technology Park, 497 East Main St., and the adjacent Palmer Building at 153 Main St. into apartments and retail spaces.
“I think activity spurs activity,” O’Malley said. “That attracts people and it attracts tenants and it attracts interested developers.”
Massimino’s has been located in Ansonia since 1994 when Massimo came from Italy with his wife Isabella, daughters Anna and Jessica, and his son Massimo Jr.
Anna Andretta said the business will continue to offer its family recipes and homemade sauces made from scratch, but plans to change up the menu a bit once it moves into the new location. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Tax break denial scuttles plans for $30 million housing, commercial complex in Portland

PORTLAND >> The effort to recreate the Elmcrest property as a mixed-use development is over.
The developer who proposed turning the property into a mixed-use development of high-end apartments and retail shopping space has withdrawn his application and is walking away from the project.Daniel R. Bertram, the president of BRT Construction, withdrew his proposal late Wednesday after the Board of Selectmen rejected a proposal to commit in principle to a seven-year, 100-percent tax abatement for the proposed $30 million project.The 11:20 p.m. vote and Bertram’s withdrawal ends a nearly 18-month-long effort by the Danbury developer to create project that he said would yield a true “village center” for Portland. In exchange for the commitment to the abatement, Bertram promised to spend $30 million in town over the next five years. But that promise was not enough to convince selectmen Kitch Breen Czernicki, Brian M. Flood, Kathleen G. Richards and Benjamin Srb to support the abatement. Those four cast the crucial “no” votes during the selectmen’s regular meeting Wednesday.
Flood had been opposed to granting an abatement from the very beginning. He said he felt the town had no business giving an abatement to a developer who, potentially, stood to make millions on the development. Nor should the town “put its thumb on the scale,” favoring some businesses — such as a new pharmacy — at the expense of existing businesses. Srb, who had been the most active and most vocal critic of the project, had a series of arguments against granting abatement. He and his mother-in-law and fellow selectman, Kathleen G. Richards, had received an abatement for their role in developing and constructing the Chris Cote Golf Shop on Route 66. On Wednesday, Srb said he could not justify granting the abatement because of an imbalance in the ratio of residential to retail/commercial. Richards said she needed more detail before she was willing to cast her vote in favor of committing the abatement. Czernicki did not clearly say why she voted no. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Coogan Boulevard repaving project to begin Monday

Mystic — Beginning Monday, a contractor hired by the Town of Stonington will begin an approximately nine-day-long milling and repaving project of Coogan Boulevard, the busy road that leads to Mystic Aquarium and Olde Mistick Village.
The town, meanwhile, has taken a number of measures to minimize the disruption to businesses and motorists.
According to a schedule released by Public Works Director Barbara McKrell, work to mill the road will begin Monday and continue through Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. The milling is scheduled to take three days.
Next Thursday and Friday, work to make adjustments to road structures will occur between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Four days of paving are scheduled to begin Monday, Oct. 3. That work will take place between 2 a.m. and noon each day. One exception is that no paving will take place between Route 27 and Clara Drive between 10 a.m. and 2 a.m.
Bad weather could alter the schedule.
Motorists should expect delays and slow traffic, but one lane will remain open in each direction. Drivers are being asked to drive cautiously and allow extra time to reach their destination.

Fuel-cell developer says Beacon Falls project 'shovel ready'

The developer of a proposed 63.3-megawatt Beacon Falls Energy Park said this week that the project is "shovel ready."
The proposed park, which would use fuel cells from Danbury's FuelCell Energy and be the world's largest fuel-cell park, noted it has achieved several milestones.
The proposed park, which would use fuel cells from Danbury's FuelCell Energy and be the world's largest fuel-cell park, noted it has achieved several milestones.
They include approval from the Connecticut Siting Council, an engineering agreement with Eversource regarding a nearby substation, and a tax stabilization agreement with town officials.
The park still needs a stormwater construction permit from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, a gas service agreement with Yankee Gas and an interconnection agreement with ISO NEw England.
One major development the developer, O&G Industries, is hoping for is that DEEP selects the bid it placed in response to a three-state renewable energy RFP earlier this year.

September 22, 2016

CT Construction Digest Thursday September 22, 2016

School renovation work on hold after contractor challenges bid award

NEW BRITAIN — A Superior Court judge has issued a temporary injunction delaying the start of the Smalley Academy school renovation project after an unsuccessful bidder sued the city.
Longtime local contractor Kaestle Boos bid $1,710,000 to do the consulting and architectural services for the proposed project. That work would include site improvement, site acquisitions and retrofitting the now-vacant St. John Paul II School — formerly Pope John Paul II School — which would serve as “swing space” for displaced students from Smalley while construction was occurring at the school.
The city’s School Building Committee recently awarded the contract to the low bidder: Bridgeport-based Fletcher-Thompson Inc. Fletcher-Thompson bid $1,610,000. Its total bid, though, was $1,695,000, when taking into account work at St. John Paul II School.
In its lawsuit, Kaestle Boos cited the city’s Code of Ordinances, which says that a New Britain-based bidder shall be considered the “lowest responsible bidder” if its bid is not more than 2 percent higher than the lowest bid on a project involving a total contract price of over $5 million.
The total Smalley renovation project is estimated to cost about $53 million.
In its lawsuit, Kaestle Boos claims the 2 percent threshold was not met because “the city has not included the $85,000 proposal to retrofit Pope John Paul II School in Fletcher’s bid. Retrofitting Pope John Paul II School is an essential and integral part of the project.”
In its subsequent motion to dismiss the lawsuit, the city wrote, “The defendants dispute that the local ordinances applies to a bid for architectural services and contend that, even if it did apply, the plaintiff’s bid does not qualify under its provisions because of material differences between plaintiff’s bid and that of the successful bidder, Fletcher Thompson Inc.” CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Upcoming roadwork to affect some Bristol streets

BRISTOL — An upcoming roadway construction project is expected to cause some minor traffic delays.
The public works department this week said the annual roadwork will affect the following streets:
  •  Morningside Drive East
  •  Morningside Drive West
  •  Roberge Road
  •  Short Street
  •  Pine Court
  •  Curry Court
  •  Pre Dem Road
  •  Taillon Street
  • Concord Street
  •  Fairlawn Street
  •  Nancy Road
  •  Shrub Road
  •  Willis Street (from South Street to East Road)
  • Memorial Boulevard (from Main Street to the median)
  •  Bel-Air Drive
The surface of the roads will be milled down, starting Monday, followed by paving a week later.
There may be minor traffic delays as a result of the roadwork, but the streets will remain open during the process. Some “no parking” signs will be posted as needed during construction.

Former medical building in Meriden prepped for redevelopment

MERIDEN — Stepping inside the blighted building at 116 Cook Ave., Juliet Burdelski said it’s easy for her to imagine the recently gutted second floor as spacious modern apartments, flooded with light from the large windows reminiscent of New York-style warehouse lofts.
“This could really be an open floor plan, because of the steel beams and the wood floors,” said Burdelski, the city’s economic development specialist. “With the arched brick you can see the redevelopment potential. It has a lot of historic character,” she said during a tour of the building Wednesday.
 The city has selected POKO Partners to draft a plan to redevelop the site. Company officials say they are probably six months away from entering into an agreement with the city.
Rehabilitating the historic Cook Avenue medical building into a 64-unit complex is the first phase of POKO’s plan, “Meriden Mews,” which encompasses the abutting Factory H site and entails the construction of six new apartment buildings for a total of 184 units. Of the 64 units proposed in the Cook Avenue building, 51 will be market rate with the remaining 13 affordable. The project is expected to cost $54 million.

The city has removed 250 tons of debris using about $500,000 in grants. The city plans to apply for additional state funding to cover the $750,000 removal of the remaining 400 tons of debris, Burdelski said. The environmental engineering firm Tighe & Bond was hired to oversee the cleanup.
“This building was completely loaded with fallen building debris and various trash brought in by vagrants,” said Harley Langford, a senior environmental specialist with Tighe & Bond. “There was asbestos-containing materials, including floor tiles, pipe installation; there was also PCB-containing paints that were applied to sheetrock and other building components.”

Built in the 1800s, the 72,000-square-foot building was originally a silverware and cutlery manufacturing plant for the International Silver Co. It was used as gun manufacturing facility in the early 1900s before being converted into medical offices. The city purchased the building for just under $700,000 in 2006.
Some evidence of the building’s past remains, including a door with the name “Harold S. Wilkes M.D.” CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
U.S. Rep. Joseph D. Courtney, D-2nd District, today released a letter from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that indicates municipalities might have a way to pursue federal grant funding to assist with repairs to crumbling concrete foundations.
The day after an inquiry from his office, Courtney received a letter from HUD on Aug. 18. It explains that funds from the Small Cities Community Development Block Grant Program as well as the Home Investment Partnerships Program could be used to assist homeowners with failing foundations.
The programs, both administered by the state Department of Housing, received a total of nearly $19 million last year — $12.2 million in Small Cities CDBG funds and $6.5 million in HOME funds not otherwise allocated to larger cities.
The funds are typically used for a variety of housing and development projects throughout the state, with the distribution determined by the state Department of Housing and the Office of Policy and Management in consultation with the General Assembly.
In June some local leaders brainstormed ideas for financial relief, which HUD officials said in the August letter could be assisted by CDBG and HOME funds.
"I am committed to investigating every possible source of federal assistance that could be available to homeowners in northeastern Connecticut with crumbling foundations," Courtney said. "As more and more residents are discovering that their homes may be impacted by this problem, we are going to need an all-hands-on-deck response in order to make these homeowners whole again."
Kristine Foye, HUD's deputy regional administrator, cautioned that while it is possible to use the funds for foundation replacements, there are many limits on how the funds can be used.
"The HUD-funded Small Cities CDBG Program may be used to repair an individual resident's foundation; however, there are several limitations and requirements on these funds," she said. "The HOME program may also be used to repair an individual's foundation; but, this program has even more stringent terms."
The funds are generally awarded to smaller communities throughout the state, Foye said, and the Department of Housing determines the priorities. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Apartments Proposed For Route 44 Parcel In Canton

A local developer has proposed 144 apartments for a vacant, wooded 7-acre parcel on Route 44.
Those plans were presented to the planning and zoning commission on Wednesday by Arthur Godbout. He met with the commission in a pre-application review, which lets the commission give informal and non-binding comments on what a builder has in mind. No decision was made at the meeting.
The parcel Godbout wants to develop is on the north side of Route 44 between Daynard Drive and East Hill Road.
It is on a stretch of Route 44 that has limited access to water, sewers and other utilities and a mix of retail stores and other businesses.
Godbout told the commission he does not see any potential for more commercial development there. Town Planner Neil Pade said another developer's proposal several years ago for 30,000 square feet of retail on the parcel went nowhere.
"I asked 'What does Canton potentially need?' And I came back with the fact that there might be a market for upscale apartments," Godbout told the commission.
What's next is unclear. Godbout has not filed a formal development application with the town, and he told the commission he does not have the means to complete the project. He said he wants to sell the land and an approved building plan to a larger developer.
Godbout told the commission he wanted some assurances that it would approve the apartment complex he outlined on Wednesday. Commission members were generally receptive to his proposal but said they could not give a definite answer until Godbout files an application. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

New Haven planners approve Yale’s Gibbs lab replacement project

NEW HAVEN >> The next step is a demolition permit. Five months after it was first sent to the City Plan Commission, the $70 million Yale Biology building, which will replace Gibbs Laboratory and upgrade other portions of Yale University’s Science Hill, was unanimously approved by that body.
“We are good to go,” said Lauren Zucker, associate vice president for New Haven Affairs and university properties, after the vote Wednesday night.  “It is nice to see that the project is finally proceeding. It is great for Yale, great for science, great for jobs, great for New Haven,” Zucker said. Also Wednesday, the commission approved a one-year extension on construction of the university’s two new residential colleges, which are being built on the block bound by Sachem Street, Prospect Street and the Farmington Canal and cost some $500 million. Yale, in a letter, told the commission construction is approximately 70 percent complete on the colleges and it anticipated getting a certificate of occupancy in August 2017. As far as the biology building is concerned, Yale can now go to the city’s Building Department for a permit to raze the current Gibbs biology laboratory on Whitney Avenue and begin site preparation for construction. While the delays were many and caused tension between the Board of Alders and the university, Gibbs essentially was guaranteed smooth sailing after an aldermanic vote in early September. At that point, the board put in place a process for dealing with future parking issues and found that Gibbs would not generate the need for an amendment to the university’s Overall Central/Science Parking Plan. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

September 21, 2016

CT Construction Digest Wednesday September 21, 2016

CT losing construction employees

Construction employment in Connecticut has been on the decline this past year, according to the Arlington, Va.-based Associated General Contractors of America (AGCA).
Connecticut ranked 44th in the country in August with a loss of 1,600 construction jobs, compared with the same month a year earlier, the association said Tuesday. The state ranked 50th in the country when August numbers were compared with July figures, with a drop of 1,600 employees in that time frame.
All told, construction employment rose in 36 states year over year, but between July and August, only 24 states added jobs as firms struggled to find workers, the AGCA reported.
The statistics and rankings are based on an analysis of U.S. Labor Department data.
"The construction market has cooled off in recent months but continues to outperform the overall economy in most states, with solid year-over-year job gains," said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the association. "Despite some slowing in public construction, apartments and manufacturing projects, contractors in many states say they would be hiring more employees if they could find enough qualified workers."
California added the most construction jobs (29,300 jobs, 4 percent) between August 2015 and August 2016.
States that shed more jobs than Connecticut include Alabama, which lost 3,500 workers; and Kansas, which lost 4,700 workers.
Association officials said that even as demand for certain types of construction projects, especially public-sector projects, was slowing, firms in many parts of the country remain more worried about the lack of available workers than the lack of available work.
They urged U.S. Senators to act on a House-passed measure that would boost funding for, and make reforms to, career and technical school programs to encourage and prepare more students to pursue high-paying careers in construction.

Bridge job to be expedited

SOUTHBURY – Town officials want to replace the Oak Tree Road bridge and reopen the road to through traffic. By Southbury paying for the work itself, they hope to avoid the yearlong wait of applying for state funds.
The blockage in the middle of the road is causing headaches for area merchants, so First Selectman Jeffrey A. Manville said the town wants to replace the small bridge as soon as possible.
On Monday night, the Board of Finance unanimously approved a resolution recommending that the Board of Selectmen and a town meeting appropriate up to $200,000 for the project.
“We urge town officials to work with all deliberate speed,” Board of Finance Chairman John A. Michaels said Tuesday. “We are acknowledging it will cost taxpayers $25,000 to $50,000 more, but it gets it done a year sooner and we owe that to support our businesses.”
Michaels said the town plans to bypass state and federal 50/50 funding with he goal of replacing the culvert by Thanksgiving.
Manville said, “I don’t know if state funding is off the table. We need some more definitive numbers, but we are moving forward. The indication at this time is we would probably be doing this on our own.”
Public Works Director John Cottell Jr. estimates the cost of the project could be $150,000 to $175,000. Michaels said Board of Finance member, Dick Hill, suggested approving $200,000 in case the cost goes over that.
Cottell said he is still trying to get hard numbers.
The next step is for the Board of Selectmen to schedule a town meeting vote.
Meanwhile, Cottell said expects the Inland Wetlands Commission to approve a wetlands application for the project at its next meeting in October.
Stuart Sommers Co., a Southbury engineering firm, is working on the specifications for the new culvert. After that, Cottell said one can be ordered from the manufacturer, taking a minimum of 30 days to construct.
“That takes us a little into the cold season,” he said. “Hopefully, Mother Nature cooperates with us, which is always a wildcard.”
A major issue is a 4-to-5-inch gas line owned by Eversource Energy, which Cottell said runs parallel to the bridge deck, though it is not attached. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Wetlands OKs sewer crossing watershed

TORRINGTON – Raw sewage from Woodridge Lake residential community in Goshen can flow through a public drinking watershed because there will be no adverse impacts to the environment, the city’s inland wetlands commission unanimously decided Tuesday.
The commission voted in favor of Woodridge Lake Sewer District’s plan to send the sewage through a sewer line down Goshen Road (Route 4), where it would connect with the end of the current line on Lovers Lane.
An estimated 110,000 gallons of sewage are expected to pass through the proposed 6 miles of sewer lines, which would cross 4,600 feet of the Allen Dam Reservoir watershed and Parker Brook, which feeds into the reservoir. The massive project for Woodridge Lake seeks to put an end to a decades-long battle between the Woodridge Lake homeowners association and the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. In 1989, the agency issued a consent order over concerns about the lake association’s disposal field.
The decision was not a surprise to the project’s supporters and opponents who attended the hourlong meeting, especially after Goshen’s inland wetlands commission also voted to the approve the project.
“It’s another step in a long process,” said Alfred Shell, clerk of the Woodridge Lake Sewer District.
Susan Suhanovsky, president of the Torrington Water Co., called the decision “unfortunate.”
“(The commission) didn’t take into consideration that something might happen in the future, whether it’s 50 years or 40 years. Some day, something is going to happen and it is going to affect the water for the residents of Torrington,” Suhanovsky said.
Commission members were limited because case law in the state on similar issues is strict.

September 20, 2016

CT COnstruction Digest Tuesday September 20, 2016

Milling on West Main Street to begin Sunday, paving in October

NEW BRITAIN — The state Department of Transportation will oversee the milling and paving of 1.3 miles of road on the highly-traveled area of West Main Street beginning Sunday.
“The paving of West Main Street will be a welcomed improvement for the many drivers who travel along this roadway, a major corridor connecting Corbin Avenue to our downtown,” Mayor Erin Stewart said in a statement Monday. “This infrastructure project is one of many improvements being done throughout the city to improve the quality of life for residents.”
The $236,000 project — paid entirely with state bonds — should be completed around Oct. 6, officials said Monday.
The milling portion of the project – which begins at Corbin Avenue on West Main Street and goes to Main Street and West Main Street — will be done by the Newington-based Costello Industries.
The milling will begin Sunday and the paving — which will be conducted by the Plainville-based Tilcon Companies — is scheduled to start Oct. 2.
Paul Rizzo is the DOTs transportation maintenance manager and the lead on the project.
Rizzo said the current condition of the stretch of road is “fair to good, we are just making it better. We do not want to let our roads get to the point where they are bad.
“If you let a road get really bad, it will cost you more to get it repaired.”
The work is expected — depending on weather — to be done every day from Sept. 25 to at least Oct. 6 from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Rizzo encourages motorists to use other routes if they can.
“If motorists can use alternates routes during the construction and minimize traffic, it will help us get the job done quicker,” Rizzo said. “It will also give us a better product.
“The less traffic we have during construction, the better jobs the contractors can do for us and the less traffic is also safe for employees, the contractors and the police officers.”
For those motorists who must use the affected streets during the off-peak hours, police will assist with traffic control. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Norwich hotel project moving forward

Norwich – Contractors from the local firm Engineered Construction are expected to be at 154 Salem Turnpike Tuesday morning to begin work on finishing the abandoned 113-room Hampton Inn project after it met two key milestones Monday.
Texas developer Patrick Levantino completed the purchase of the formerly defunct project Monday under the name 395 Properties LLC for $3.15 million from previous owner CT Norwich LLC, a subsidiary of Winston Hospitality Inc. of Raleigh, N.C.
And Monday night, the City Council voted unanimously to approve a seven-year property tax phase-in for the new hotel as allowed by state law for projects valued at more than $3 million.
The hotel is at a key gateway to the city on Route 82 off Interstate 395, Exit 11.
Assessor Donna Ralston provided the City Council with a chart detailing the tax phase-in plan. The new owner would pay full taxes on the assessment of $880,600. For the first two years starting with the October 2017 grand list of taxable properties, 395 Properties LLC would still pay full taxes on the $880,600 assessment, but would pay no new taxes on the value of the improvements.
In the third year, the firm would pay taxes on 50 percent of the value of the improvements, and that would increase by 10 percent per year until the hotel pays taxes on 100 percent of assessed value in the eighth year.
Norwich's coffers already felt the boon of the new hotel project with Monday's transaction. The city clerk's office received $15,750 in property conveyance taxes Monday, along with $75 in recording fees for the paperwork. At the city building department, Assistant Building Official Greg Arpin was holding building permits already approved for the project and awaiting the property transaction.
Building permit fees totaled $44,562 for the $2.575 million in work overseen by inspections through the city building office, Arpin calculated. The project needs another $648,000 in work that would not need building permits, Arpin said.
Arpin said Engineered Construction has been cooperative through the permit process, and the company is expected to be on the property by 8 a.m. Tuesday to get started on the work. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

CT construction industry's challenges among toughest in U.S.

When Allstate Fire Systems submitted a bid in August to install sprinkler systems as part of a $4 million Hartford Public Library interior-renovation project, five other companies competed for the job.
While the work, which will accommodate the library's space-sharing arrangement with UConn's downtown Hartford campus and include buildout of classrooms and study areas, has not yet been awarded, the sprinkler-system bids ranged from $39,400 to more than $86,000, said Allstate Vice President David K. Thompson.
The numerous companies vying for the job underscores the intense competition for construction work in Connecticut, experts say, as the industry still faces a slow recovery from the Great Recession. Although there are fewer construction workers and firms in the state than there were in 2008, contractors and subcontractors are pursuing as many jobs as they can, making it harder for firms to win contracts.
That's also putting pressure on construction firms to shave margin on their bids so they can compete in a price-sensitive environment in which the lowest bidder, particularly for government projects, often rules the day.
Thompson said Allstate's more detailed bid wound up at the high end and may not be selected as a result.
"It's difficult," he said, "because you're looking at a project anticipating what the scope is, trying to be as detailed and thorough as you can, all the time knowing you're competing against others who may not be as detailed or informed. You spend a lot of time putting something together when others may be just taking a stab at it."
Industry slowdown
The Great Recession put a major damper on Connecticut's construction industry, and although the sector is in better shape today than it was a few years ago, the recovery has been slow.
In 2015, for example, Connecticut's private construction industry was tied with New York's for offering the least economic impact in the U.S. when measured as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP), according to a recent report by the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC).
In its report, ABC found the direct economic value added by the private construction industry — largely measured by the value of the labor force — accounted for just 3.1 percent of GDP in Connecticut, below the national average of 3.9 percent. (The number in Connecticut reached as low as 2.1 percent of GDP in 2010.)
Meantime, Connecticut's construction unemployment rate in July was the sixth highest in the country at 6.3 percent, compared to the nation's 4.5 percent jobless rate, according to ABC. The industry employs about 58,000 people in Connecticut, which remains 11,400 jobs short of 2008's peak employment of 69,400, state Department of Labor numbers show.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

P&Z Hears Third Party Review Of NTE Power Plant Application

Representatives of TRC Solutions presented 28 pages of findings to the Killingly Planning & Zoning Commission at a public meeting on Sept. 8.
The engineering firm was hired by the town of Killingly to review the application NTE submitted to the Connecticut Siting Council for a proposed power plant in Dayville.
The TRC presentation came after almost an hour of public comment. Approximately 200 residents from Killingly and surrounding towns attended the meeting. The majority of those who spoke cited concerns about the plant's potential impact on the environment, economy, real estate values, wells, aquifers, and health of area residents.
NTE has proposed building a 550 megawatt gas-fired power plant on Lake Road. The CSC is the sole authority on approving the power plant. However, the CSC takes into consideration public comments, and the reports and findings submitted by towns who are in close proximity to such plants.
Carl Stopper, principal engineer at TRC, highlighted the major concerns his firm was able to identify, as well as those things NTE did well in their application.
Stopper criticized NTE's analysis of the environmental and economic impacts of the plant for not using site specific data in the models and software packages. The models used were not uncommon ones, Stopper said, but they relied on default data rather than site specific data.
"These models are not meant to be used in a rigorous fashion," Stopper said. "It's almost a black box analysis."
NTE provided no information about the content of a proprietary environmental impact model or the information used for input. He cautioned reliance on proprietary models.
A geotechnical report was thorough, but Stopper had concerns about the data used. Five temporary observation wells were installed following drilling activity, but NTE only checked the water once.
"We don't know seasonal fluctuations," Stopper said.
One of those wells was close to a wetland on the north portion of the property. The impact of seasonal fluctuations on that well could be critical, Stopper said.
The type and permeability of the soil at the construction site raised concerns about drainage ability. Glacier till is soil that would compact into a dense material with construction activities. When recompacted, Stopper said it can act like concrete, changing the dynamics of stormwater runoff. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Lawsuits against New Haven developments tossed, projects to move forward

NEW HAVEN >> Now that certain lawsuits aimed at fellow developers have been dismissed by the courts, Economic Development Administrator Matthew Nemerson said he plans to reach out to the company that brought the suits to encourage a new relationship.
Suits initiated in 2014 by PMC Property Group against Spinnaker Residential LLC and developer Noel Petra to stop zone changes and halt construction of more than 500 apartments in two separate projects in Wooster Square were dismissed by the Superior Court in May.The state Appellate Court last week declined to hear an appeal of those rulings, effectively ending the challenge that largely was viewed by city officials as a way to stall competition in the area where PMC already has rental housing.Nemerson said the two separate developments will be “transformative” for the Wooster Square neighorhood as they fill in a transition area from downtown. He said both projects should get started in spring. Part of the Spinnaker plan would be located at the site of the former Comcast building and a parking lot, which is across the street and in front of a PMC property. Petra’s is close by along Olive Street and at 87 Union St. Nemerson said the decision by both Petra and Spinnaker to continue with the projects, despite the long delays, shows their faith in the growth of New Haven.
Mayor Toni Harp, in a statement, said the court’s ruling “is a clear affirmation of the city’s land use decision-making process and a testament to the work of its Board of Alders, City Plan Commission, and City Plan Department in setting forth a direction for New Haven in the form of Vision 2020, the city’s new Comprehensive Plan of Development.” Petra said the fact that they can finally move forward with the long-delayed construction is just sinking in.He said they will proceed with their due diligence on environmental issues as well as site plan preparation over the next few months, with contruction starting in late spring or early summer.Petra said “a few players” in the development world engage in these kind of “delay tactics,” but it is more common in big city construction. The economic development administrator said he will approach officials at PMC to come “join the community of nations” and sit down with the city to talk about its plans, including investment in its properties.“They have great projects,” Nemerson said of the developer and property manager whose headquarters are in Philadelphia. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

New hearing, new vote ordered for West Haven outlet mall zoning

HARTFORD >> The judge overseeing a court appeal of the West Haven Planning and Zoning Commission’s approvals of zoning map and regulation text changes by holdout property owners within the project area for The Haven upscale outlet mall approved a stipulated settlement Monday.
Approval of the settlement by Superior Court Judge Marshall K. Berger, which was expected, will result in the city of West Haven 7 Comments.Attorneys for the city, PZC and property owners worked out the settlement after it came to light during the appeal process that the PZC’s recording system failed the night of the June 6 hearing and meeting and there was no official record of it.In a separate case, the city, since the appeal was filed, has initiated eminent domain proceedings against the property involved in the appeal as well as the owners of three other properties. That case is separate from the PZC appeal. The plaintiffs in the appeal are Robert McGinnity, whose family has owned two homes at 341 First Ave. and 349 First Ave. for more than 50 years, and SZS Enterprises LLC, which has owned the Citgo station and convenience store at First Avenue and Elm Street for 17 years.
Also named as plaintiffs were McGinnity’s mother, Natalie “Nellie” McGinnity, and his uncle, Michael Perrone, both former owners of the properties who continue to live in them and hold a “life estate interest” in them. The city and the PZC were named as defendants.Berger, who oversees the Superior Court land-use docket, to which the appeal was transferred after initially being filed in Superior Court in Milford, approved the settlement in a brief court hearing Monday morning. As part of the stipulation filed in court, the commission agreed to re-hear two applications that were filed by the city itself. The PZC “is unable to return to the court a transcript of the Commission’s June 6, 2016 approval of Defendant City of West Haven’s” applications “because the Commission’s audio-recording device malfunctioned that evening,” the stipulation reads. “Plaintiffs’ appeal in the above-captioned action is sustained and the decision of the Commission approving the application to amend the text of the zoning regulations is vacated,” it says. “The parties recognize and agree that the City of West Haven intends to file a new application to amend the text of the zoning regulations.“The plaintiffs reserve all their rights and remedies to support, comment on or object to all or any portion of a new application to amend the text of the zoning regulations that the City of West Haven may file,” it reads. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE