Scrap Metal Yards At Western Edge Of City Moving North
Connecticut Property Line
TERESA M. PELHAM
November 25, 2008
More than a few undesirable sites mar the view along Hartford's highways, especially near the city line. But one ugly area on the west side has a shot a becoming a little more welcoming.
Scrap metal yards on Flatbush Avenue that for decades have been a landmark to drivers heading west on I-84 are moving, and the city is focusing on the area for future commercial and retail development. But the state's economy, now headed for a deeper slide than initially expected, will have to mount a recovery first.
The area will certainly be ready for redevelopment.
Sims Metal Management Aerospace Inc., which traces its roots in Hartford to 1899 and the old family-run Suisman & Blumenthal metal recyclers, recently signed a 25-year lease to occupy the former ADVO building along I-91 in the city's North Meadows. A staggered relocation is planned through fall 2010.
The owner of the 36-acre property, longtime city arts patron Michael Suisman, has been in discussions with the city about future development.
Next door, another smaller scrap metal storage business is closing up shop, and its owner is expected to put the property up for sale.
In the next few weeks, the city will present a plan to redevelop the area that will be left vacant. The Parkville Municipal Development Plan, which has not been released to the public, includes a recommendation to extend Bartholomew Avenue south to Flatbush Avenue, underneath I-84, creating better access and opportunities for commercial and retail development. Four years ago, the Charter Oak Marketplace opened nearby.
"It's premature to say what, specifically, would be a part of that development," said Mark McGovern, the city's director of economic development. "Our focus right now is on public improvements that set the stage for private development. By building a road we increase the value of the land. We're not contemplating purchasing the land. We want to make it more attractive for future businesses."
Sims Metal Management has five buildings at 500 Flatbush Ave. and had been searching for a larger location for four years. The company had considered moving to Springfield, but a $1 million low-interest loan from the state persuaded it to stay, keeping put the company's 130 employees, many with 20 or more years of service. Additional incentives included a five year, 80 percent break on local property taxes and a 25 percent corporate business tax credit.
"We're going to consolidate all of our operations under one roof, which is a lot more lean and green," Aerospace Division President James Nathan said. "We'll have raw materials all the way to finished product all under one roof."
A $25 million renovation has already begun on the 279,000-square-foot former ADVO building, owned by Winstanley Enterprises, and ground is expected to be broken in January on a 145,000-square-foot addition. All scrap metal will be stored inside.
"This might be the largest industrial transaction this year in the Greater Hartford area," McGovern said.
A smaller parcel, owned by Harvey Bixon of New Haven-based Rome Recycling, also is undergoing changes. Smaller than an acre, the property at 45 Olive St. has historically been used to store scrap metal as well as construction and demolition equipment.
Bixon said his scrap metal business closed in 2000. By early next month, his only tenant, which stores construction and demolition equipment at the site, will move to South Windsor, he said. The property will be entirely vacant, aside from an existing billboard.
"I'm going to leave it fenced in and vacant for now," Bixon said. "Some of the scrap metal was moved, and the rest of it will be gone. I haven't heard anything from the city, but I'd definitely want to talk about selling it. It will be available for purchase."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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