Lawyers for the city and developer Sal DiNardo have reached an agreement on a demolition and remediation plan, approved by federal and state courts, for the 28-acre former Remington Arms plant on the East Side that would include seven acres for a second city train station, according to the mayor’s office.
An ugly fire last August became a flashpoint for health and safety of East Side residents with representatives of the city and DiNardo pointing fingers over responsibility.
In the weeks after the August fire, emergency crews took down portions of the former manufacturing plant deemed an immediate health and safety threat, but the majority of the hulking structures remain. The price tag to demolish and clear the site will cost millions depending on the future usage.
Remington sold its Abrasive Products business and the Barnum Avenue site in Bridgeport to RemGrit Corporation in 1986, according to Remington’s corporate history. In recent years the vacated site has been controlled by a limited liability company led by DiNardo. The city went to court to enforce payment of back taxes on the property. DiNardo had the LLC placed into bankruptcy court.
Mayor Bill Finch wants a portion of the property for a train station. See details from mayor’s news release.
Court rulings allow progress on Remgrit demolition
Major progress has been made to address the condition of the Remgrit site on the City’s East Side.
In a recent ruling, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Bridgeport has allowed the City to move forward with foreclosure actions on the 812 Barnum Ave. portion of the former Remington Arms plant – a 7.2 acre parcel on the south side of Barnum Avenue abutting the railroad tracks. The State Superior Court also has ruled that the City be allowed to foreclose on that parcel, and title to the 812 Barnum Ave. site has now vested to the City, and is planned to be used by the City as the site of the future East Side train station.
“This is fantastic news. We’ve been waiting a long time for this to happen,” said Mayor Bill Finch. “The judge’s ruling clears the way for these burned-out buildings, which have been a blight and a health risk to the surrounding neighborhood, and a danger to our firefighters, to finally be taken down. My administration is determined to keep pressure on the property owner to begin demolition as soon as is possible to secure these sites.”
In October, Mayor Finch joined federal legislators in announcing the award of a highly competitive $3.5 million HUD Sustainable Communities grant, a unique two-state, five-city partnership which will allow for the planning for a second train station to be built on the 812 Barnum Avenue site as part of a larger development plan for the East Side. The Mayor also will be meeting with the Department of Transportation officials and State Rep. Andres Ayala, chair of the Legislature’s Transportation Bonding Subcommittee, to request state funds to begin the demolition of the 812 Barnum Avenue site. In 2000, the City entered into a Memorandum with Sporting Goods Properties, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of DuPont, which has acknowledged its responsibility for certain environmental conditions at the property as a result of its ownership and operations thereon prior to 1986.
In addition, the Bankruptcy Court ruling will allow Remgrit to begin demolition on the parcel at 889 Barnum Avenue as soon as the state Department of Public Health approves its demolitions plans. Once the approval is in place. Remgrit has six months to complete demolition.
Further, the state court ruled that the delinquent taxes on the property at 1005 Arctic Street be released by the City after it is demolished, and the owner must begin immediate payment of current taxes as soon as demolition begins at that site.
The city will realize a net positive gain for the value of 812 Barnum Avenue and 1005 Arctic Street. The fair market value of 812 Barnum is $2.1 million, and taxes owed, including principle, interest and fees is $1.7 million; the fair market value of 1005 Arctic is $364,915, and taxes owed, including principle, interest and fees is $302,000.
The buildings once housed one of the largest munitions plants in the country. In recent years, the property has been the scene of numerous fires, the largest of which occurred late last summer and which burned for a week. At that time, Bridgeport Fire Chief Brian Rooney labeled the former ammunitions plant, “a menace to public safety.” Following that last major fire, various city, state and federal agencies inspected the site, and the city eventually condemned the property and called for the demolition of the old plant.
“It’s been a black mark on our City for too long and has put citizens, police and firefighters at risk.” said Mayor Finch.