Former Public Properties Slated for Private Redevelopment
Eighty percent of jobs in Groton are currently held by commuters. Reversing this statistic requires changing the perception of Groton by increasing the community’s modern amenities – housing, shopping & dining – and enhancing the overall “sense of place”.
The Town of Groton’s Economic Development program addresses surplus town property methodically. Once the Town decides a property will not be used for public purposes, economic development staff manages the redevelopment effort. At this point, the goal is to repurpose the property in a manner that benefits Groton and ideally places it back on the “Grand List” (tax rolls). Strategic re-use of the properties will also contribute to our larger goal to convert more Groton-bound commuters into Groton residents as recommended in the 2016 Groton Market Analysis.
Many of the properties and buildings have been vacant for a decade or more while most of the active marketing began within the past two years. There are two means for addressing redevelopment: Requests for Proposals (RFP) or Hiring a Broker to Market the Property.
Request for Proposals (RFP)
An RFP is commonly issued when there are a variety of uses that would be feasible and acceptable at a particular property. The focus of the RFP is to solicit numerous market interests and to eventually select a “preferred developer” with which to partner. The RFP process also addresses the property as a “redevelopment project” rather than a “real estate transaction.” Groton is mainly interested in a partner who with a high probability to execute upon the promises made in the submitted proposal. Prior to the issuance of an RFP, significant time is allocated to marketing the property including advertisements to audiences beyond Connecticut, building a project webpage, developing informational project sheets, answering questions, and showing the property. Groton’s goal is to find the best proposal for the town at-large including maximum value and benefits.
RFP contents often include the following categories:
- Project Overview
- Municipal Process
- Site History
- Current Zoning and Groton Market Analysis
- Community Background
- Investment Opportunity
- Access and Roadways
- Environmental Assessment and Remediation
- Development Guidelines
- Project Incentives
- Evaluation Criteria
- Submittal Requirements
- Submittal Deadline and Review Schedule
- Reserved Rights/Disclaimer
Typically, there is no asking price since this is not a typical real estate transaction. Evaluation criteria commonly include the following:
- Compliance with the RFP submission requirements
- Clear and comprehensive submittal
- Rational, detailed, and thorough approach to implementation
- Degree to which project complies with local plans
Team Qualifications and Experience:
- Demonstrated experience in completing similar projects
- Strength of the team including project lead, engineering, architectural design, construction, financing, etc.
- References for key completed projects
Project Viability and Ability to Execute Project in a Timely Manner:
- Demonstrated project marketability
- Demonstrated evidence supporting project financing
- Reasonable timeframe to initiate and complete project
- Demonstrated on-time completion of past projects
- Reasonable demands or requests from the Town
Benefit to Town:
- Financial offering and benefit to the Town
- Taxes to the Town upon full build-out
- Quantitative and qualitative benefits to the Town
- Building design and efficient use of property
- Other community benefits (public use, amenities, other)
Hiring a Broker to Market the Property
Using an experienced broker to market a property is sometimes used as well. This is typically when a property has a likely particular use or if there are specific marketing challenges. Sometimes a property is most certainly going to be used for a known use and finding the right developer is the primary objective. This is different from the RFP process where a specific use is yet to be finalized. With the broker approach, Groton does maintain its expectations for project execution, but the review is slightly more streamlined and expedited. Economic development staff still coordinates with the broker with building access, marketing, communicating with developers, and with the final selection review process.
Groton's Economic and Community Development Manager Paige Bronk was recently featured on GMTV's "Welcome to Groton". In the interview, he discusses the redevelopment process in-depth.
Redevelopment Properties: Project Status
- This is an 80+ acre land area located approximately one mile from downtown Mystic with over 150,000 square feet of existing buildings. An RFP process was completed and a “preferred developer” has been identified.
- Staff and the “preferred developer” are addressing logistics specifically with the State of Connecticut (the owner).
- Pending project details will be available to the general public in early 2019. The future redevelopment will be a mixed use project offering needed community uses and natural resource protection.
- This is a two acre property with a 27,185 square foot building. An RFP process was completed leading to finalists. A “preferred developer” has been identified.
- Public information regarding this pending project will be available in by April 2019. Meetings are being discussed to occur shortly.
517/529 Gold Star Highway
- This property entails nearly 12 acres of land. An RFP process was completed and a “preferred developer” has been identified. Staff has been assisting with project logistics including natural gas extension and traffic circulation.
- Public information regarding this pending project will be available by mid-2019.
- This property includes approximately 14 acres along Route 12 and I-95. Groton hired Goman + York as a commercial broker to assist with marketing.
- Several showings have occurred and formal developer proposals are anticipated in March 2019.
- Staff released new advertisements for the property in digital and hard copy formats. CoStar/LoopNet is being used as well as New England Real Estate Journal.
- Showings for the property are ongoing. An RFP release is anticipated by summer 2019.
Future Redevelopment Projects
- Pleasant Valley School: 16.74 acres, three buildings, 43,504 total square feet. Vacant since 2018. Anticipated return to the Town of Groton from the Education Department by late 2019.
- Claude Chester Elementary School: 11.52 acres, one building, 42,776 square feet. Anticipated return to the Town of Groton from the Education Department in 2021 when school consolidation is complete.
- S.B. Butler Elementary School: 9.33 acres, one building, 38,661 square feet. Anticipated return to the Town of Groton from the Education Department in 2021 when school consolidation is complete.