Longtime New London economic development director retires

New London Economic Development Coordinator Ned Hammond in his City Hall office Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, his last day on the job. He is retiring after 28 years. (Greg Smith/The Day)
New London Economic Development Coordinator Ned Hammond in his City Hall office Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, his last day on the job. He is retiring after 28 years. (Greg Smith/The Day)

New London — Ned Hammond spent part of his last week with the city helping to clear some potential hurdles for entrepreneurs looking to locate a microbrewery in the city’s downtown business district.

Hammond, who has been the city’s longtime economic development coordinator, sees great potential for the Bank Street building under consideration for the brewery but needs to know whether it could accommodate a loading dock. He’s chatted with the real estate broker listing the property, the city’s parking director, the police chief and others to help ensure the project comes to fruition.

“They’re pretty serious,” Hammond said with some obvious excitement. “I think you’ll see something at the planning and zoning level in the coming months. They still have to come to terms with the property owner.”

Hammond, whose last day was Friday, has in some ways been the face of the city for many businesses or would-be developers looking to locate here. Helping them navigate the process is something he has taken seriously. He let the business owners know requirements of planning and zoning. He can tell you that changes to the storefront will trigger a facade review. He’s got financing ideas to share, such as how to make use of enterprise zone tax breaks.

“I gave them direction,” Hammond said in summing up his work.

Hammond, 67, has been helping connect the dots for developers since 1990, when he was hired as the city’s zoning enforcement officer. He became the economic development coordinator in 1997 following the retirement of Phil Biondo. Bruce Hyde was the director of the city’s Office of Development and Planning at the time.

One of Hammond’s first sales of a city property was a parcel now occupied by Captain Scott’s Lobster Dock, a redevelopment parcel sold to the Eshenfelder family and a success story.

“It’s been a real pleasure to see it grow the way it has over there,” he said.

His nearly 28 years with the city, along with the fact he was born and raised here, have helped build his institutional knowledge, though he’s adamant that "it’s an entire staff effort to helping new business owners navigate the system.”

Mayor Michael Passero called Ned’s retirement a significant loss to the city and said he hoped the position would be filled at some point.

Until then, Hammond’s duties, which cover everything from the management of the leases for four shellfish beds in the Thames River to oversight of the Foreign Trade Zone, will be divvied up among other employees at City Hall.

Those duties will include oversight of the revolving loan fund and building rehabilitation loan program, surplus property acquisition and disposition and a Brownfields funds that have been used in the past for the redevelopment of Waterfront Park, Parade Plaza and the remaking of South Water Street.

And while the breadth of his duties is extensive, the city’s initial focus will be filling the position left when Tammy Daugherty, the Director of the Office of Development and Planning, leaves next week.

Her position has been posted.

“We’re not anticipating any major changes until that person is on board,” Passero said.

Hammond said the city is in the midst of a growth “spurt,” with an entire block along Bank Street under development — a good sign for the city.

“There are more and more property owners downtown and a steady pace of converting the upper stories into apartments,” he said. The new owners of Parcel J at the corner of Bank and Howard streets are preparing to submit their plans for an apartment complex.

Hammond hasn’t always resided in the city. He is a graduate of Trinity College, where he earned a degree in psychology and later traveled to Morocco with the Peace Corps. before starting up with a partner his own fiberglass repair and porcelain refinishing business.

After his travels abroad, Hammond said he had returned to New London because he “fell in love with a Waterford girl, which is the smartest thing I ever did.” The couple raised three children.

Hammond said once he is out of City Hall, he has work to do on a 1913 duplex he owns in the city.

"That’s going to keep me busy,” he said.

Hammond said New London’s heyday may have ended in the 1940s but the city still has the potential to reinvent itself. Part of that progress will come with adaption not only by the city to the changing times but for businesses that must constantly reinvent themselves and property owners that make the effort to showcase their property.

“Ned’s steadfast, professional service to the city is especially characterized by his understanding of complex situations, his commitment to finding solutions and his genuine kindness,” Daugherty said.

“Ned is just a prince of a human being. It’s been a wonderful experience to work with him,” she said.

g.smith@theday.com 

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