Electric Boat looking to New London for more parking space

New London - Electric Boat, whose lots at the submarine maker's engineering and design campus are filled to near capacity, has asked for a meeting with city officials to explore where it can find more parking spaces.

"We're reviewing our options for parking and trying to determine exactly how many spaces we need," EB spokesman Robert Hamilton said Monday.

Hamilton said all options are on the table at the 33-acre New London campus, both on site and off site. About 2,000 engineers and designers work at the campus, which is in the Fort Trumbull area, but those numbers are expected to swell to 3,200 sometime this spring. The capacity in New London is 3,600.

City officials, who plan to meet with company representatives later this week, say they have no hard numbers on EB's parking needs. But "it's not just a few spaces," said Kristin Havrilla Clarke, the city's director of development and planning.

Clarke added that she hoped to come up with a solution to EB's expected parking overflow within the next couple of months.

"Of course, they want it done yesterday," she said.

Hamilton would only say that EB needs the extra parking spaces within the next year. "We've been very successful at finding engineering work that has allowed us to fill that building quickly," he added.

Clarke said she'd be sitting down with EB officials, City Planner Harry A. Smith and a representative of the mayor's office to try to hash out the possibilities before bringing a formal proposal to the city Planning and Zoning Commission. "I think there's a solution out there somewhere," she said.

Clarke said possible solutions, which include an empty lot on Howard Street, would have to meet zoning regulations and could involve city-owned land or privately held property. If a private solution turned out to be the best option, she added, EB would have to work out the details.

Hamilton said the lack of parking has not yet delayed the move of EB personnel from Groton to the New London campus, which features three modern office towers overlooking the Thames River. EB bought the site, formerly Pfizer Inc.'s world research headquarters, two years ago for $55 million.

EB is in the midst of hiring more engineers to work on a new class of submarine. Plans currently call for only about 1,200 engineers and designers to remain in Groton.

Pfizer had utilized the New London campus less intensely than EB, never having much more than 2,000 employees and in its last couple years in the city filling the parking area only to about half of capacity. EB, still completing reconstruction work at the campus, has yet to occupy one of the three office towers but expects to finish the project this month.

While EB's growing numbers in New London may have led to a parking overflow, city merchants aren't complaining.

"What we're hearing anecdotally," said Clarke, "is that EB employees are spending more time in the city than Pfizer employees did."

l.howard@theday.com

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