From Eyesore to Opportunity
Posted on by Sadie Colcord
One of the most rewarding projects that I have been engaged in recently is the demolition and redevelopment of the site of the former Somersville Mill in the Town of Somers. To give some background, Somers was a thriving industrial community during the 19th and 20th Centuries and was home to the Somersville Mill textile plant for over one hundred years during this period. When the mill closed in the 1980s, the building was left abandoned and became an eyesore that was a frequent topic of frustration among residents.
The problem was exacerbated in 2012 when a fire burned the building to the ground and all that remained were piles of steel and brick. As a result of the fire, asbestos that was used in the building’s roofing material was scattered around the site among the piles of debris.
Town officials knew they had to take action to fix this public health hazard, so they applied for a grant from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), with the help of CERC, that would allow them to demolish the remaining structure and decontaminate the site. DECD saw the importance of cleaning up the area, so they awarded the Town $1.8 million to do this. Through the help of several firms with expertise in different areas of brownfield remediation, the cleanup process was started in August of this year and finished in November. The transformation from a nagging eyesore to a clean site brimming with potential has been very exciting to witness and is one of the reasons that I find this work so engaging.
Now, over thirty years past the date the building was abandoned, the Town is ready to see productive and meaningful development activity on this property. Town officials have asked CERC to market the property to developers who share their vision of a vibrant mixed-use space which may include retail, office, and residential components. CERC staff will take on the next exciting task of utilizing our networks of brokers and our expertise in real estate marketing to make this happen. There are endless possibilities for the future of this site, and we are all very excited to see the positive impact new development will have on the Town of Somers.
Image of the mill prior to demolition courtesy of Tom's Drone Media.