Groton to open development proposals for Mystic Education Center on Feb. 15

Groton — The town has shown the former Mystic Education Center property 40 times since it began marketing the site, and will open proposals from developers on Feb. 15, according to an update on economic development in Groton.

The 77-acre site on Oral School Road is owned by the state, but the state and town jointly have been marketing the property. Groton issued a request for proposals on Dec. 15 and has had several showings per week, Planning and Development Director Jon Reiner said. About 40 acres of the property are suitable for development.

Town Manager John Burt said he’s excited about a dormant property potentially going back on the tax rolls. "I look forward to seeing all of the submitted proposals. I want to make sure that the public continue being able to use the green space there, and that the selected use complements the area,” he wrote in an email.

Single-family homes border the property to the south, with the Mystic River running along the western side. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection manages the lower 37 acres as conservation land, which would remain protected and used for passive recreation.

The project is a redevelopment effort, not a real estate transaction, the town’s request for proposals said.

“The town and state’s primary goal is to attract the best development team to redevelop the property in a timely, superior, and well-planned manner,” the request said. “The town and state are also interested in receiving a competitive offering for the property,” which includes adding the property to Groton’s grand list, the request said.

Several options for development have been discussed over the years. A redevelopment analysis of the site in 2016 highlighted possibilities including a housing development for seniors, high-end residential units and a hotel or recreation use that draws business from the Mystic area or hosts youth sports tournaments and camps.

A market analysis of Groton also cited a demand for mixed-use development, restaurants, hotels, higher quality retail and multi-family residential homes.

The property is zoned for residential development, but the town expects to amend zoning to accommodate future development.

The Mystic Education Center formerly housed the Whipple School for the Deaf, which moved from Ledyard to the site in 1872. In 1921, the State of Connecticut assumed ownership of the school, but stopped using the school in 1980. Organizations like the Special Olympics and Groton Parks and Recreation Department then used the site.

In 2011, the state classified the education center as surplus property for sale and notified Groton it would close the campus.

d.straszheim@theday.com

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