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The old Morgan School site, vacant since 2016, has several parties expressing interest in redevelopment, according Clinton First Selectman Christine Goupil. (Photo by Eric O’Connell/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
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According to the town’s original plan, the site of the old Morgan School would be bustling with apartments, offices, shops, and restaurants by now. While the site remains dormant following the first developer’s failure to launch, First Selectman Christine Goupil said there are proposals on the table for the site that will see action with in the next several weeks.
At the June 6 Board of Selectmen meeting, Goupil shed some light on the status of the potential development of the property. Goupil said she has received “a number” of proposals for developments on the site, but due to nondisclosure agreements, she could not yet share any details. Goupil said that once all the proposals are received, she will hold an executive session with the board to review the proposals.
The 38-acre property, which has been vacant since summer 2016, has remained a hot button issue in town. Originally, Mill Pond, LLC, was supposed to break ground on a development in late 2016. In August 2017, the project was called off due to the developer’s loss of financial backing. The proposal for the Village at Mill Pond originally called for a mix of retail and residential use, including a hotel and restaurants.
Recent conversations on social media have been spurred by the post from Facebook user Tina Marie stating she’d reached out to Costco, which she said was interested in the site. Developers for Costco are currently pursuing a site in Branford at exit 56 on I-95.
If a Costco were to be proposed for the site, it would appear to require rezoning. As part of The Morgan School’s move up Route 81, the town placed the old school into an Interchange Development Zone, which is intended to “foster high-quality, mixed-use development...It is the express intention of these regulations to result in developments that do not resemble typical strip commercial centers.” The zone also currently prohibits gasoline service stations.
In a separate interview with the Harbor News, Goupil said that the property would need to be developed according to regulations and “what the market will bear.”
Goupil posted an update on the town’s website on June 1. The update stated in part, “Over the next several weeks, the selectmen will be entering into negotiations for a letter of intent or a purchase and sales agreement with a preferred developer. While price offered will be one important factor, the selectmen also recognize that this is a generational opportunity to positively affect the economic climate in Clinton, and it is important to get this right. Chasing a quick score is both easy and profitable in the short-term; it does not deliver long-term value to the town. The Town Plan of Conservation and Development and the Planning & Zoning Commission has established a clear vision for the preferred redevelopment of this property, and it is important for the developer to understand and deliver upon this vision. Further, the developer must have a solid track record of quality large-scale projects and an ability to deliver a product that fits Clinton’s character and fit into the existing environment with Clinton Crossing, Downtown Clinton, the Route 81 Corridor Study, and the surrounding residential and school resources.”
The complete statement can be read by going to the town website, www.clintonct.org, and typing “news flash” in the search bar.
This update follows the announcement in April 2018 that the town would appropriate $4,500 from the undesignated fund for an appraisal on the property from R.F. Hagearty & Associates.
At the time of the announcement of the appraisal, Goupil said, “There are a number of developers willing to throw a number out on the table, but the town needs to ensure we are getting the best price for the property.”
An upcoming public workshop on Monday, June 25 at the new Morgan School will focus partly on community input regarding the redevelopment of the old Morgan School—find more at “Reviewing Route 1 to Rocky Ledge” on page 14.
Since the collapse of the Mill Pond project, the town has retained control of the property, which has led to unexpected costs for maintenance and security against vandalism. Voters had originally approved the $2.8 million sale of the 38-acre property in February 2015.
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