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Still waiting for a new Central Hall Block in Mystic

Published July 15. 2011 4:00AM

The smoke had barely cleared from a devastating fire at downtown Mystic's Central Hall Block on March 6, 2000, when then-Gov. John G. Rowland pledged that reconstruction would begin by Memorial Day.

It's just as well he didn't specify which Memorial Day. Over the past decade-plus, residents and tourists have had to stare at a "temporary" wooden fence with makeshift portholes while developers and authorities debated various plans to rebuild the structure at 18-22 West Main St.

For one reason or another - fire regulations, parking restrictions, insurance policies, building codes, financial concerns - nothing has been done to replace the once-thriving residential/retail property on the Groton side of the Mystic River.

Now we learn we will have to wait even longer.

This week the Groton Town Planning Commission granted developers a one-year extension, until next July, to start construction of a four-story building containing six or seven stores and 16 condominiums.

We understand that Rome wasn't built in a day but would have thought that one small part of Mystic could be constructed in less than 11 years.

Downtown Mystic remains one of the region's most popular tourist destinations, with assorted restaurants, galleries and souvenir shops, and once a streetscape project now under way is completed it promises to be even more attractive.

Let's get the Central Hall Block project rolling before people forget there was ever a building on the site.

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