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Though news is scant, more details are emerging about the future of the recently sold Unilever headquarters.
At a Board of Selectmen meeting on Aug. 7, First Selectmen Christine Goupil shed some light on the proceeding. Goupil said she had been in contact with the buyers of the property. Noting that all the plans are potential at this time, Goupil said she heard the developers are considering a sports facility.
The interest in building an indoor sports facility is not a new idea for Clinton—or the Unilever property.
In 2013, the town disbursed a $200,000 grant to Shoreline Ice, LLC, to conduct a feasibility study to build an ice rink at the former dump site on Old Nod Road; that effort failed. Later proposals included installing indoor soccer fields and an ice rink at the Unilever site, which until now had not materialized.
“It’s a huge building. There’s lots of potential. We’re very excited,” Goupil said.
When reached for comment via text message, new owner of the property
Michael Massimino, one of the property’s new owners, told the Harbor News that more information will be provided in the near future.
Consultant Planner John Guszkowski said, “I’m not 100 percent certain what elements of their planning they are ready to make public. That said, they are submitting an application for receipt by the Planning & Zoning Commission on Monday [Aug. 12] that will include two change-of-use special exceptions that would allow them to use the existing buildings for indoor recreation and for a brewery/restaurant. Those items will be on Monday’s agenda” to be added at the meeting.
According to documents filed on July 3 in the assessor’s office, seven different parcels of the property were sold for a total of $100,000. The addresses of the parcels are 0 John Street, 9-15 John Street, 25 John Street, 0 North High Street, 13 Central Avenue, and 0 West Main Street.
“Something to note is that, at times, the numbers that we are given don’t reflect the true sale prices,” Assistant Assessor Heather Schmidt said. “It’s very possible that there might be something within the sale itself that’s out of our knowledge that affected the numbers.” Requests for comment from the Unilever company were not retuned in time for this story.
Some of the lots were sold to Clinton Realty Associates, LLC, while others were sold to R&R Clinton Ventures, LLC, Clinton Ventures II, LLC, and Clinton Ventures III, LLC. Richard G. di Girolamo is listed as the principal of Clinton Ventures while Clinton Realty Associates list Massimino as its principle.
The total property encompasses about 20 acres at the intersection of Hull and John streets and has been vacant for almost six years. The plant had more than 100 years of history in town, but in July 2011, Unilever announced that the company’s Clinton plant would close by the end of 2012.
Unilever North America Corporate Communications Manager Catherine Reynolds stated that contractually the company can’t comment on the sale or future use.
Over the last two years, the town has applied for grants to help look at wastewater disposal systems for the site and to help develop the brownfield site. The town also approved zoning changes in early 2018 to expand the potential uses for the site, and an anticipated up-and-over pedestrian bridge for the train station would give the development convenient rail access.
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