Site: Georgetown

Our case study site is a 56-acre brownfield located in Georgetown village, Town of Redding, northern Fairfield County, Connecticut, 55 miles northeast of New York City. 

The historic factory campus was built by the Gilbert & Bennett Mfg Co (est. 1819), which set up operations in Georgetown in 1848. G&B manufactured wire goods, most notably screening used in windows and doors, a product they invented.  

Gilbert & Bennett Mfg Co, c. 1920
Gilbert & Bennett Mfg Co, live/work village, 1943

As wire manufacturing moved south and overseas in the mid-twentieth century, the carrying costs of the historic campus, coupled with environmental cleanup, were no longer viable. The company was liquidated in 1998, leaving the property dormant, with the exception of a failed, subprime-era real estate venture (2003-07) that continues to mire the decaying site and heavily burden town finances. The Town of Redding initiated foreclosure on the property in 2015. On February 7, 2019, Connecticut Judicial Branch Superior Court entered a judgement of strict foreclosure in the Town of Redding’s favor.

top

Local Assets

MetroNorth New Haven Line, Danbury Branch, train to Grand Central Terminal; 90 mins.

The former factory campus is less than one mile from commuter rail to New York City.

The town’s strong commitment to environmental stewardship has preserved abundant open space, including more than 60 miles of woodland trails.

The area offers a cross-section of locally scaled art and culture:  Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield; The Avon Theatre Film Center, Stamford; The Brant Foundation Art Study Center, Greenwich; Bruce Museum, Greenwich; Grace Farms, New Canaan; The Glass House, New Canaan; Long Wharf Theatre, New Haven;  Modern Homes (Harvard Five), New Canaan; New Haven Modern Architecture; Ridgefield Playhouse; Yale Center for British Art, Yale Repertory Theatre, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven; Weir Farm National Historic Site, Wilton.

top

Development: Phase I

Inspired by town heritage of pioneering environmental stewardship and vanguard artists, and the industrial innovation of Georgetown village, TILL re-envisions the former Gilbert & Bennett factory plant as a demonstration site of progressive brownfield regeneration combining proven methods of soil cleanup, low-carbon construction, and smart mobility

Our strategy has precedent.

The iPhone — the world-changing, best-selling product of all time — isn’t new technology. It’s “confluence technology.”  

iPhone aggregates decades-old technologies into a seamless, user-friendly device.

TILL adapts this logic for brownfield regeneration, aggregating decades-old, proven technologies into an integrated, living program of real estate development, where value grows — and stays — in the community:

  • land regeneration using living plant materials (1960s, conservation agriculture; 1980s, phytotechnologies)
  • mass timber construction (1990s)
  • smart mobility (2000s) 

In an era of extractive global real estate, that’s world changing. 

Best lived is the best seller.

top

Phase 1.1: Historic Building Stabilization

Stabilize and weatherproof  six remaining factory buildings, listed on the National Register for Historic Places. 

Wire Drawing Building/TILL
top

Phase 1.2: Soil Cleanup

Combining conservation agriculture principles and phytotechnologies, TILL brownfield regeneration:

  • cleans contaminated land using living plant material
  • rebuilds soil health 
  • deepens underground carbon reserves
    • decarbonizes the atmosphere
    • recarbonizes the soil
  • builds new construction raised above bioremediating landscapes 
  • focus shifts from contaminant sources to exposure pathways
    • healing landscapes are economically productive
  • cost efficient
    • 1/3 the cost of conventional remediation
top

Phase 1.3: Artist Live/Work Studios

45 artist studios, 1375 sf/unit

TILL Artist Live/Work Studios
  • Cross-laminated timber construction 
    • raised above remediating landscapes
  • Access and circulation by raised walkways
  • Energy-efficient heat pumps
  • Long-term maintenance: grazing sheep
TILL Artist Live/Work Studio
top

Phase 1.4: Commercial Anchors

Hospitality

An artist-run boutique hotel offering superior, affordable, health & well-being focused accommodation to visitors and business professionals enjoying the open space, cultural amenities, and business opportunities at the site and area-wide.

TILL Artist Hotel
top

Co-Working Space

Co-working space offers a communal setting for Georgetown area residents and visitors seeking a quiet, comfortable, and professional alternative to working from the isolation of home offices and distraction of crowded coffee shops.

TILL Co-Working Space
top

Vertical Farm

The vertical farm experiments with financially, environmentally, and nutritionally superior methods of hydroponic farming to provide local produce year-round to metropolitan New York grocers.

TILL Vertical Farm

Ecological Fashion Incubator

The ecological fashion incubator equips ecologically committed designers with a lab in which to experiment with new methods of clothing manufacturing toward discovering and scaling alternatives to industry practices of global mass production and fast fashion. 

TILL Ecological Fashion Incubator

Zero Waste Retail

The zero waste store is a one-stop home and personal goods shop for area consumers seeking a low-waste lifestyle in order to reduce their environmental footprint.

TILL Zero Waste Retail
top

Heavy-Metal Harvesting R&D

This commercial field study grows hyperaccumulator species on the former wire mill land disposal facility, enabling soil regeneration while generating engineered nanomaterials through a reproducible and cost-effective process.

TILL Heavy Metal Harvesting
top

Phase 2: Mixed-Use Development

TILL Mixed-Used Development
top

Phase 3: Historic Building Renovation

  • Remaining historic buildings are renovated for commercial use

Scalability: Global brownfield

  • 2-3 million U.S. brownfield sites
  • 10,000+ Connecticut brownfields
  • 20% of all real estate in the U.S. are brownfields

TILL leads as carbon pricing rolls out as the most cost-effective lever to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the scale and speed that is necessary.

top