State Pier contractor finds temporary use for Thames River Apartments site
New London ― The city has found a temporary use for the Crystal Avenue property where the demolished Thames River Apartments once stood.
Kiewit Infrastructure Co., the construction manager for the nearby State Pier project, has signed an agreement to pay the city $10,000 a month through December for use of the 15-acre parcel.
The agreement, which runs from March 1 through Dec. 31, comes as Gateway New London LLC, prepares to start its work as the port operator on April 21. Offshore wind turbines, which are to be assembled and shipped from the pier, are expected to arrive shortly after.
Omaha, Nebraska-based Kiewit has already moved rows of trailers beds loaded with material to the 40 Crystal Ave. property.
“Kiewit intends to use the space for our material storage and lay down needs as we work toward project completion,” Kiewit spokesperson Teresa Shada said.
The company is expected to be working in some capacity at State Pier, which is a short distance from the site, for much of the year.
The terms of the agreement between Kiewit and New London call for Kiewit to establish temporary office space and “lay down area for equipment and materials,” on the Crystal Avenue property. Kiewit is responsible for items such as trash removal and upkeep of the property.
Felix Reyes, director of New London’s Office of Development and Planning, said the city was approached by Kiewit about using the Crystal Avenue property. The agreement made sense, Reyes said, since the city is still gearing up to market the property and ask for requests for proposals for the future use of the site.
“The hope is we build something that increases our grand list and increases jobs,” Reyes said. “The intermediate use of that space doesn’t prevent us from doing that.”
The city is waiting for the results of an environmental survey of the property that will detail the extent of any contamination. The need for some amount of remediation, at least on some portions of the property, is expected, Reyes said. The costs of any cleanup would be incorporated into negotiations for use of the property.
Reyes expects the property will attract a use like a small manufacturing firm. He said the city would prefer not to see proposals like self-storage facilities or warehouses.
“We’re going to be patient and ensure we have the right development. We owe it to our residents and to the state,” Reyes said.
The demolition of the buildings cost about $4 million. All but $700,000 was funded by the state, which Reyes said remains a partner in development of the site.
The city bought the property while the buildings were still standing for $185,000 from the New London Housing Authority following a joint effort to move the residents out of the federally-subsidized complex because of the deteriorating conditions.
One of the first entities to show interest in its future use was Connecticut Waste Processing Materials LLC and Manafort Brothers who pitched a proposal to demolish the buildings and use the property for a bulk shipping and storage facility in support of its own operations and possible for the storage of road salt.
Reyes said it is possible that there is use of the site from something related to the offshore wind industry.
Staff reporter Johana Vazquez contributed to this report.