The former Remington site is a mess both politically and governmentally, and Finch administration officials appear to be paying a lot of attention to it so it doesn’t become an election hellhole next year.
The hot spots from the fire a few weeks ago at the vacant old industrial monster are finally out, according to the city, and a collection of city officials from the Fire Department, health, condemnation board and economic development are weighing in heavily in the latest city news release, including Economic Development Director Donald Eversley.
Whatever political capital, begging, pleading, yelling and screaming city officials have with the state and feds to find the money to slay this dragon, the effort is worth it. This is where Governor Jodi Rell, on her way out, can leave a parting legacy with the city beyond a failed prison proposal for the Upper East Side. Remember Mount Trashmore, a 30-foot high, two-block pile of illegal demolition debris in the East End? What a mess. Shortly after Joe Ganim became mayor in 1991, cleaning it up was on his wish list to Governor Lowell Weicker. Lowell said this is a shithole. Let’s clean it up. The state stepped up. Trashmore was no more. Please Jodi, morph into Lowell for one day.
This is a place where Congressman Jim Himes, locked in a tough reelection, can also look like a hero, if he can pry lose any federal dough for a long-term cure. From Mayor Finch:
City Condemns RemGrit site; Demolition to begin soon
The latest fire at the former Remington Arms factory on Barnum Avenue is out, and City officials are looking for help from the state to ensure that the buildings, which present a public safety hazard, are torn down as soon as possible.
The City’s Board of Condemnation voted unanimously Tuesday to condemn the former Remington Arms factory site on Boston Avenue. Plans are underway to begin demolition as soon as legally possible.
“The RemGrit site has been a blight on the City for too long, and a risk to both its neighbors and to our firefighters,” said Mayor Bill Finch. “I am focusing every available City resource to demolish these buildings to safeguard our residents and our firefighters from any further hazards from that site.”
Last Friday several City department heads including, Police, Fire, Health, Planning & Economic Development, Buildings, Anti-Blight, along with State DEP and federal EPA, were at the former factory site for a walk-through and review of the most recent catastrophic fire.
“The entire campus is a menace to public safety,” said Bridgeport Fire Chief Brian Rooney. “It presents a risk to our residents as well as our firefighters every time a fire breaks out in those buildings. Our best recourse is to get the buildings torn down.”
According to Donald Eversley, Director of the Office of Planning and Economic Development, the review revealed significant risk of imminent and continuing public hazard, including structural damage to multiple properties, fire hazard, hazardous waste, and evidence of criminal activities.
Following the site visit, the Board of Condemnation held meetings on Friday and Tuesday, resulting in an order that the property owner commence demolition of the buildings within 48 hours.
“We expect to see demolition begin by Friday morning,” said Eversley.
OBAMA ADMINISTRATION AWARDS ADDITIONAL $9.3 MILLION TO STABILIZE CONNECTICUT NEIGHBORHOODS HARD-HIT BY FORECLOSURE
Third round of NSP grants to build on efforts to confront abandonment and blight
WASHINGTON – U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan today awarded an additional $9,322,756 million in funding to Connecticut communities struggling to reverse the effects of the foreclosure crisis. The grants announced today represent a third round of funding through HUD’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) and will provide targeted emergency assistance to help local communities in Connecticut acquire, redevelop or demolish foreclosed properties. (See below for a complete list of Connecticut funding)
“These grants will build on local efforts to reverse the effects these foreclosed properties have on their surrounding neighborhoods,” said Donovan. “We wanted to make certain that we targeted these funds to those places with especially high foreclosure activity so we can help turn the tide in our battle against abandonment and blight. This investment will reduce blight, bolster neighboring home values, create jobs and produce affordable housing.”
“Putting people to work, saving buildings, creating housing and stabilizing neighborhoods is what this program is all about,” said Richard A. Walega, HUD New England Regional Administrator. “HUD will work each and every day to help workers, families and communities make sure this funding has a meaningful impact.”
“Bridgeport was especially hard hit by the recent economic downturn, and these funds provide welcome relief that will help the city and its residents recover,” said Congressman Jim Himes. “Stemming foreclosures is an absolutely critical piece of our comprehensive effort to turn the economy around. These funds will help Bridgeport build on its recent successes in this area, create job opportunities, and produce quality, affordable housing for its residents while reducing the impact the foreclosures could have on the city and region’s economic health.”
“The City is extremely grateful that it will be receiving another $1.2 million in Neighborhood Stabilization funding to continue its work in stemming the tide of foreclosures in Bridgeport,” said Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch. “The City has committed the entire $5.8 million dollars it received in the first round of funding, and by working with many partners, we have been able to help turn around neighborhoods, combat blight, and create both affordable and supportive housing throughout the City. I want to thank Senators Dodd and Lieberman and Congressman Himes for their work in securing this money, and we are very thankful to the leaders at HUD and DECD for helping us to keep the momentum going.”
The funding announced today is provided under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. To date, there have been two other rounds of NSP funding: $3.92 billion appropriated through the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA) and an additional $2 billion appropriated by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act). Like those earlier rounds of NSP grants, these targeted funds will be used to purchase foreclosed homes at a discount and to rehabilitate or redevelop them in order to respond to rising foreclosures, abandoned homes, and falling home values. Today, 95 cents of every dollar from the first round of NSP funding is obligated – and is in use by communities, buying up and renovating homes, and creating jobs.
State and local governments can use their neighborhood stabilization grants to acquire land and property; to demolish or rehabilitate abandoned properties; and/or to offer downpayment and closing cost assistance to low- to moderate-income homebuyers (household incomes not exceed 120 percent of area median income). In addition, these grantees can create “land banks” to assemble, temporarily manage, and dispose of vacant land for the purpose of stabilizing neighborhoods and encouraging re-use or redevelopment of urban property. HUD will issue an NSP3 guidance notice in the next few weeks to assist grantees in designing their programs and applying for funds.
NSP 3 will take full advantage of the historic First Look partnership Secretary Donovan announced with the National Community Stabilization Trust last week. First Look gives NSP grantees an exclusive 12-14 day window to evaluate and bid on properties before others can do so. By giving every NSP grantee the first crack at buying foreclosed and abandoned properties in these targeted neighborhoods, First Look will maximize the impact of NSP dollars in the hardest-hit neighborhoods – making it more likely the properties communities want to buy are strategically chosen and cutting in half the traditional 75-to-85 day process it takes to re-sell foreclosed properties.
NSP also seeks to prevent future foreclosures by requiring housing counseling for families receiving homebuyer assistance. HUD seeks to protect future homebuyers by requiring States and local grantees to ensure that new homebuyers under NSP receive homeownership counseling and obtain a mortgage loan from a lender who agrees to comply with sound lending practices.
In determining the allocations announced today, HUD, as it did with NSP1, followed key indicators for the distribution formula outlined by Congress. HUD is using the latest data to implement the Congressional formula. The formula weighs several factors to match funding to need in the 20 percent most distressed neighborhoods as determined based on the number and percentage of home foreclosures, the number and percentage of homes financed by a subprime mortgage related loan, and the number and percentage of homes in delinquency. To estimate the level of need down to the neighborhood level, HUD uses a model that takes into account causes of foreclosures and delinquencies, which include housing price declines from peak levels, and increases in unemployment, and rate of high cost and highly leveraged loans. HUD also considers vacancy problems in neighborhoods with severe foreclosure related problems.
In addition to a third round of NSP funding, Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act creates a $1 billion Emergency Homeowners Loan Program to be administered by HUD. This loan program will provide up to 24 months in mortgage assistance to homeowners who are at risk of foreclosure and have experienced a substantial reduction in income due to involuntary unemployment, underemployment, or a medical condition. HUD will announce additional details, including the targeted communities and other program specifics when the program is officially launched in the coming weeks.