Mystic Education Center redevelopment plan to be announced at open house Thursday
Groton — The conceptual plan to redevelop the Mystic Education Center property as a mixed-use development is slated to be announced Thursday.
"The development is an adaptive reuse of fallow state-owned property that will be mixed-use designed to satisfy Groton’s needs and goals specific to housing, public recreation, historic preservation of buildings and commerce," Groton Economic and Community Development Manager Paige Bronk said.
An open house will be held at the Groton Town Hall Annex, 134 Groton Long Point Road, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, with the announcement scheduled for 7 p.m. An event notice encourages people to attend to hear about "the process to date, the redevelopment concept, and future next steps," which will include several public meetings.
"The property sits on approximately 77 acres of state-owned land with significant building assets. The property originally housed the Whipple School for the Deaf," according to the notice. "In 1921, the State of Connecticut assumed control of the school, but discontinued its usage in 1980. Government agency and private uses were ongoing until approximately 2011."
The property, located at 240 Oral School Road in Mystic, has four buildings and was used "for a wide range of activities by various organizations including the Groton Parks and Recreation Department, Special Olympics, a dance program, a business, a day care center and firefighting training programs," according to an information sheet. The state declared the property "surplus property for sale" in 2011, the document states.
According to a 2017 request for proposals, the upper portion of the property — 40 acres — is "suitable for redevelopment," and the lower acreage will be for conservation and passive recreation.
While the state owns the land, the town has helped market it and has been involved in the redevelopment process with the state. After the request for proposals was issued, a "preferred developer" was chosen, according to the event notice.
"The redevelopment of the Mystic Education Center is a large mixed-use development and it is a partnership between the state, the town and the developer," Bronk said.
Bronk said officials are envisioning that the Pratt Building, a former recreation building on the site, would be rehabilitated back into a recreation facility as part of the site's redevelopment.
The Town Council is slated to vote Wednesday on a $116,500 "Parks and Recreation Capital Reserve Project" that would entail a community needs assessment, a feasibility study and an engineering study, including "a comprehensive property condition assessment" for the building, according to town documents. The documents note that the plan for the property "includes the renovation & future use of the Pratt Recreation Building for Groton’s benefit."
If the funding is approved by the council, Town Manager John Burt said it would be reviewed by the Representative Town Meeting Finance Committee on Nov. 7 and then go to the full RTM on Nov. 13.
"The town wants to ensure that if we are part of that repurposing of the property that we understand its existing condition, what upgrades are required, the structural integrity of the entire building, and then also what we are going to program for recreational use within the building," Bronk said. He added that the building has a great pool and gymnasium, and an older auditorium that could potentially be best suited for a different recreation use.
"We need a third party to assist in analyzing the building, what the community would really desire for recreation use and how we can best adapt the interior of the building to satisfy community needs," he said.