Large Technology Co. Eyes Madison for Corporate HQ
A large biotech/bioscience company is currently considering Madison for a large corporate headquarters on a property that is subject to a special zoning regulation, according to Town Planner Dave Anderson.
The parcel at 155 New Road, near the I-95 interstate off Duck Hole Road, was designated an opportunity area by the Planning & Zoning Commission PZC in July 2019 as part of a floating zone regulation. That designation allows certain types of construction on the property that would otherwise not be allowed.
Anderson said this month that he has been in touch with the owner of 155 New Road. He declined to name the company, saying that it could endanger ongoing negotiations, but said that Madison was the company’s “top choice at the moment.”
Anderson said he understood that the company would be making a decision sometime in March.
Shortly before the floating zone regulation was passed, an LLC associated with Kenneth Horton, a prominent New Haven-based real estate developer, purchased the 155 New Road property. That LLC was a petitioner in favor of the change in regulation.
A little over two weeks after the property was designated an opportunity area, a building that had sat vacant on the property for 15 years burned down. Madison Police Captain Joe Race told The Source in September 2019 the fire was likely set on purpose.
The floating zone designation was the source of some pushback from residents last summer. In towns that have adopted floating zones, supporters have praised the improved ability to better attract businesses and the ability of the PZC to require designs that exceed the standards of existing regulations. Opponents of floating zones cite the uncertainty that neighboring properties face when a zone can be quickly changed; they also note that under floating zones, a handful of appointed officials on the PZC are granted greater power.
One of the reasons that 155 New Road was designated an opportunity area in the first place was its proximity to the highway, Anderson said last year. He said that is likely part of the appeal for a large corporate headquarters, along with the overall positive aspects of the town including the school district and natural assets of Madison—“Obviously a desirable place for the employees to live,” Anderson said.
Anderson declined to discuss most details on the project, such as the size of the development or number of potential employees. He said the company asked him to refrain from public discussions of those specifics in order to protect their internal deliberations as they consider possible other sites.
Both the town and the company are sensitive to the concerns of residents around the project, Anderson said. The company has expressed the desire to have a “pre-application” public hearing—if the company chooses Madison, its would host members of the public to answer questions and lay out all the details of the building before any formal steps were taken. Anderson said the town would also soon be reaching out directly to neighboring property owners to keep them abreast of the possible development.
The project would then follow the normal steps of PZC approval, which will include further public hearings, Anderson said.
Anderson said there were plenty of positives for Madison that would come out of the development, if it were to be chosen and gain approval. The industry is one that the State of Connecticut has listed as “desirable,” which is something Anderson said Madison would like to be a part of.