2019

February

RJ Tax Lien, a creditor of the Georgetown Special Taxing District, appeals the judgement of strict foreclosure in favor of the Town of Redding — the last day an appeal could be made.

CT Representative Anne Hughes (135th District) and TILL principal Olivia Greenspan present testimony in support of Proposed House Bill No. 6605, “An Act Concerning Transfers and Conveyances of Brownfields Designated as Special Taxing Districts. (Track No. 6605)

CT Representative Hughes, CT Senator Will Haskell (26th District), and CT Representative Raghib Allie-Bennan (2nd District) meet with Town of Redding First Selectman Julia Pemberton to discuss Proposed House Bill No. 6605, “An Act Concerning Transfers and Conveyances of Brownfields Designated as Special Taxing Districts,” to amend 2017 CT Brownfield Land Bank legislation

Town of Redding awarded title in the Town’s 3.5-year foreclosure suit against the wire mill developer. (Read the Decision)

 “Dirt & Debt” artist residency, 2019 cycle, launches at Residency Unlimited, Brooklyn

January

Rep. Anne Hughes, Sen. Will Haskell, Rep. Raghib Allie-Brennan, 2nd Dist., and Sen. Will Haskell, 26th Dist., introduce Proposed H.B. No. 6605 to the Connecticut General Assembly. 

2018

December

Town of Redding files motion for strict foreclosure in foreclosure lawsuit against the wire mill developer 

TILL overviews legislative remedy to relieve Town of Redding taxpayers of the legal and financial quagmire of the Georgetown Special Taxing District with Representative-Elect Anne Hughes and Senator-Elect Will Haskell

November

Representative-elect Hughes reviews the flawed 2005 Georgetown Special Taxing District legislation and the legal remedy of 2017 CT Brownfield Land Bank Legislation Public Act 17-214.

State Representative Anne Hughes (“I’m running to be your state representative because the status quo is killing us.”) and State Senator Will Haskell (“Young people aren’t the future of Connecticut, we’re the present.”) win decisive victories in November 2018 mid-term elections.

October

TILL principal Olivia Greenspan attends 2018 Clinton Global Initative University at the University of Chicago 

TILL presents “Connecticut ReTooled: Leveraging Connecticut’s Knowledge Communities to Grow Prosperous Knowledge Economies,” Bruce Museum, Greenwich

September

TILL launches collaboration with ecological fashion designer Jacob Olmedo, Jacob Olmedo Studio

TILL hosts a community conversation with Clinton, CT, native Zanagee Artis, head of logistics for Zero Hour, the national youth-led climate change movement

TILL launches a month of Sunday afternoon community conversations to discuss application of P.A. 17-214 to remedy the flawed 2005 legislation enabling the Georgetown Special Taxing District in the Town of Redding

August

Earth Age: Artists for the 22nd Century,” graduate seminar based on Georgetown mill site, Program in Art, Media, and Technology, Parsons School of Design, The New School, NYC

TILL continues to overview GSTD legal remedy with Town of Redding First Selectman

TILL overviews plant-based remediation with the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Department of Economic and Community Development in Hartford 

TILL overviews GSTD legal remedy with District 135 Representative Adam Dunsby in Easton

TILL continues discussion of GSTD legal remedy with the Department of Economic and Community Development in Hartford 

July

TILL overviews GSTD legal remedy with the Department of Economic and Community Development in Hartford

TILL principal Jane Philbrick presents at LASER NYC

TILL introduces option for GSTD legal remedy with Town of Redding and respective counsel

Introduce TILL mission of holistic brownfield regeneration to Rivers Alliance of Connecticut leadership Margaret Miner and Martha Smith, with Norwalk River Watershed Association president Louise Washer in Roxbury, Connecticut 

June

Introduce TILL mission of holistic brownfield regeneration to District 136 State Representative Jonathan Steinberg in Westport

May

TILL meeting with Governor Dannel P. Malloy in Hartford about legal remedy to the Georgetown Special Taxing District, including P.A. 17-214 and bankruptcy option

Christopher (“Kip”) Bergstrom, former Deputy Commissioner, CT Department of Economic and Community Development, joins TILL board

TILL publishes in Cornerstone Capital Journal of Sustainable Finance & Banking

TILL presentation to Secure Our Future Energy (“SAFE”), Washington, D.C., think tank for autonomous vehicles

Meeting with US Congressman Jim Himes’ congressional aide Justin Meuse in Washington, D.C.

April

Open call for artist residency, “Dirt & Debt,” Residency Unlimited, Brooklyn 

Test ride Olli, the world’s first 3D-printed, electric, autonomous, multi-person vehicle, in Clarksburg, MD

Discuss legislative remedy to special taxing district quagmire with US Senator Chris Murphy’s office

March

TILL presentation in Shelton, “Ca$h Flow$ and Debt Mountain$: The True Cost of Conventional Real Estate Development,” with fashion designer Jacob Olmedo, hosted by “Save Our Shelton”

Introduce TILL vision to Will Haskell, candidate for CT State Senate, District 26

February

Introduce TILL method of holistic brownfield regeneration to Director and Representative of the Office for Planning Advocacy for the State of NJ

TILL proposes 2017 CT brownfield land bank legislation, P.A. 17-214, as potential remedy for Georgetown wire mill quagmire to TILL counsel

January

TILL exchanges strategies on community-based advocacy with Greg Tetro, “Save Our Shelton”

TILL introduces mission of holistic brownfield regeneration to Newburgh, NY city planner

MetroPractice: Artist in the World,” graduate seminar, Program in Art, Media, and Technology, Parsons School of Design, The New School

2017

November

TILL principal Olivia Greenspan presents at TEDxYouth@BeaconStreet, Boston

October

TILL presents “Runway Earth: The Fashion Designer and the Earth Scientist in Conversation,” The Unitarian Church in Westport

August

TILL  presents “T Oh! D: The Future of Suburban Mobility,” The Unitarian Church in Westport

July

Indivisible Connecticut 4 (ICT4) recommends new Connecticut Brownfield Land Bank legislation, P.A. 17-214, to TILL as legal remedy to Georgetown Special Taxing District quagmire

May 

TILL presents “A Fresh Approach” at the Weston Library, with Town of Weston Planning Department

Town of Redding Board of Selectmen present “Public Information Meeting on Gilbert & Bennett,” Redding Community Center

TILL presents “Community Forensics:  Presentation and Roundtable” on the Georgetown Land Development Co. and Georgetown Special Taxing District,” Redding Community Center

April

TILL speaks at length with Lowell Peterson, City Attorney/Prosecutor, Glenpool, OK, regarding his 2005 expert witness testimony against the original Georgetown Special Taxing District proposed legislation, which was then written to include New Milford

March

TILL presents program of holistic brownfield regeneration — “A Fresh Approach” — at the Redding Community Center

February

TILL principal Jane Philbrick presents in “Embedded, Embedding: Artist Residencies, Urban Placemaking, and Social Practice,” Residency Unlimited, Brooklyn, NY (with Montclair State University, ArtPlace America, and Parsons School of Design, The New School)

January

“Art and Community,” first graduate seminar, Program in Art, Media, and Technology, Parsons School of Design, The New School

2016

December

TILL advances to MacArthur 100&Change Round 2 (1900 applications, 800 advanced)

November

TILL presents in “Project Anywhere: Art at the Outermost Limits,” Parsons School of Design, The New School, NYC

October

TILL returns to Redding with model of holistic brownfield regeneration and expanded team

Submit MacArthur 100&Change application

September  

Connecticut Superior Court rules in favor of the Town of Redding regarding lien priority in the foreclosure suit against the Gilbert & Bennett wire mill developer

TILL presents in “InTouch: Material Performance in the Making of Urban Places,” 11th International Conference on Sustainable Design, School of Architecture, Lund, Sweden

TILL presents program for Georgetown mill site in “Brownfield Regeneration and Healthy Cities,” Tsinghua University, Beijing, China’s first intern. conference on brownfield regeneration, co-organized with Center for Technology, Graduate School of Design, Harvard University

June – August

Site visit to cross-laminated timber manufacturer SmartLam, White Fish, MT, and Newburgh, NY, scoping brownfield sites

May 

Graduate School of Design, Harvard University, thesis on Georgetown mill site case study nominated for Master of Design Studies thesis prize

January – April

Formulate TILL’s 3-part program: soil regeneration, mass timber construction, smart mobility

Harvard Graduate School of Design team, 2016 HUD Innovations in Affordable Housing Competition, semi-finalists

2015

September

Town of Redding initiatives foreclosure against Georgetown mill site owner, the Georgetown Land Development Co. et al

May

“Pemberton noted that she couldn’t speak about the ongoing negotiations with the company due to pending foreclosure litigation.”

Dirk Perrefort, “Redding Moves to Foreclose on Gilbert and Bennett Redevelopment,” The Danbury News-Times, May 10, 2015

March

2004 Georgetown Land Development Company master plan for deemed unworkable in state-funded feasibility study report presented by The Cecil Group, Boston, with Architectural Preservation Studio, New Canaan, historic preservation architects, and Old Structures Engineering, P.C., NYC

February

Planning for Conservation: Looking at Agra, Graduate School of Design, Harvard University,  fieldwork in Agra, India

2014

November

Gilbert & Bennett Project Update,” Town of Redding First Selectman mill site status report; Town of Redding taxpayers introduced to relationship between Town of Redding and Georgetown Special Taxing District debts

August

U.S. Representative Jim Himes, D-CT 4th District, visits re-wire Student Atelier on “17 Towns in 17 Days” district tour

Spring – Summer

re-wireNXT Student Atelier: re-wire schools-based community outreach, year 2

February

re-wire renewed funding across three state departments CT DECD, CT Trust for Historic Preservation, and CT Innovations (the state’s venture fund)

$5.6M CT DECD bond for mill site riverwall reconstruction awarded

2013

November

Julia Pemberton elected Town of Redding First Selectman 

October

“While I am not authorized yet to be specific, good news should be forthcoming shortly that could have a major impact on the investment of both public and private funds in the development. I am working feverishly to make sure this happens, for while I admit to great disappointment that the construction phase for this project will not happen on my watch, I am absolutely committed to setting it up so that it will happen in the next administration.”

Natalie Ketcham, Town of Redding First Selectman, “Town Backs Development at Wire Mill, The Ridgefield Press, October 22, 2013

re-wire, TILL predevelopment program, presents programming vision for Georgetown mill site to Town of Redding

August – September

re-wire Student Atelier Sunday afternoon presentations, Mark Twain Library, Redding

re-wire artist book documentation: Master Plan and Student Atelier Archive

July – August  

re-wire Student Atelier summer program for local elementary, middle, high school students

May

re-wire launch at the Mark Twain Library, Town of Redding 

April – June  

re-wire Student Atelier high school program, Joel Barlow High School, Redding and Easton

April  

re-wire seed funding “Vibrant Communities Initiative” grant awarded

January  

New grant, “Vibrant Communities Initiative,” identified in collaboration with CT Trust for Historic Preservation

2012

December  

“Art Catalyzes Placemaking” decision appealed

“Art Catalyzes Placemaking” grant rejected

November  

Submit “Art Catalyzes Placemaking” grant for re-wire, artist-led, community-based revitalization of the former Gilbert & Bennett wire mill

October  

Meet with Head of Joel Barlow High School, Town of Redding, to partner on “Art Catalyzes Placemaking”

September  

Begin CT Department of Economic and Community Development “Art Catalyzes Placemaking” grant

2011

May 

Town of Redding takes deed of water treatment facility 

2010 

July

Georgetown Special Taxing District receives a forbearance on $1.5M of tax anticipation notes after failing to pay them on time

2009

December

GLDC owner Rocco Trotta grants $763,000 forbearance to the GSTD through Jast Tan LLC, a business entity formed with GLDC CFO Mark Javello

November

Georgetown Special Taxing District General Obligation Bonds’ three-year capitalized interest period ends

September

GLDC owner Rocco Trotta forms business entity RJ Tax Lien Investments, LLC

August

“Georgetown Land Development Co. got good news this week – it has the money it needs for two intersection improvements and approval from the State Traffic Commission for a phasing-in plan crucial to the redevelopment project. 

The Housatonic Valley Council of Elected Officials, of which Redding is a member, has agreed to provide funding for up to $1.6 million for these two intersection improvements.”

Susan Wolf, “For G&B Redevelopment: State OK Boosts Project,” The Redding Pilot,August 6, 2009, pp. 1A, 13A, 14A

July

Georgetown Water Pollution Control Commission files Notice of Lien for failure to pay water charges

“Approval of the subdivision and site plan means this project can move forward subject to tax credit approval from the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority, Mr. Soler said. The project would be built by a local builder using federal tax credits, Mr. Soler said. The housing project has, so far, received a $2- million grant from the state Department of Economic and Commercial Development.”

Rachel Kirkpatrick, “State Action Needed: G&B Projects Taking Shape,” The Redding Pilot, July 30, 2009, pp. 1A, 11A

June

“The law grants developers higher-density allowances if they reserve a certain portion of the housing for low- to moderate-income residents, and makes the rejection of such projects more difficult for towns in which less than 10 percent of the housing units qualify as affordable. Redding is ‘a sitting duck’ in that regard, Mr. Dean said, as it has no affordable housing at all.

The mill project does include 40 units of affordable housing, as well as lower-priced artists’ lofts. But what Mr. Dean fears is a ‘gigantic housing-dominated project’ that does not enhance Georgetown’s small commercial center and ‘becomes a drain rather than a help.’

Officials are aggressively working with Mr. Soler to secure public financing for the infrastructure improvements that would support the existing plan and perhaps entice investors.

Residents recently agreed to a $3.5 million loan through the Tax Increment Financing program sponsored by the Connecticut Development Authority to help pay for improvements to North Main Street, the mill complex’s main route. The loan would be repaid through the anticipated increase in tax revenues after the project was complete.”

Lisa Prevost, “7 Years In, Renewal Plan Languishes,” The New York Times, June 21, 2009

$3.5M tax increment financing bond issued in a three-way agreement with the Town of Redding, the Connecticut Development Authority, and the GLDC

January

Brownfields Renaissance Partners LLC purchases majority of Georgetown Special Taxing District General Obligation Bonds at deep discount

2008

December

“Next Tuesday, Jan. 6, the public will have the opportunity to vote on a tax proposal by Georgetown Land Development Co. that is supposed to help jump-start work on the former Gilbert & Bennett wire mill site off Route 107. The public will be voting on whether to approve the town’s participation in tax increment financing (TIF), which would provide the Georgetown Land Development Co. (GLDC), owner of the wire mill site, with a $3.5-million loan from the state to complete road and infrastructure work.

In late November, the Board of Selectmen unanimously approved the TIF concept, citing, among other reasons, that the “village” design will provide an “excellent use of the site.” The selectmen also noted that the project as proposed, with its senior housing and cultural amenities like the Wire Mill Arts Foundation theater plan, and the parking garage that will serve Main Street in Georgetown, will provide many benefits to Redding. 

At its Dec. 18 meeting, the finance board endorsed the proposal, determining that it is ‘fiscally responsible’ to send the request to a town meeting to approve tax increment financing. 

The motion from the finance board’s last meeting passed 5 to 1, with member Albert Viscio in opposition. 

The proposal at an Oct. 27 finance board meeting, Stephen Soler, GLDC president, described how his company can’t issue bonds at a reasonable rate in this market. 

The company needs money to begin key work on road infrastructure within the site, Mr. Soler said. Without roads, the site will not attract potential buyers of the commercial properties, and without buyers, the town won’t realize increased tax revenues, he said.

At full build-out, Mr. Soler said, the site would generate an estimated $5.4 million in total annual taxes for the town – that is, commercial and residential property taxes. Of that total, one-third is commercial property taxes. 

If Mr. Soler couldn’t pay his taxes, or if the site went vacant, attorney Lee Hoffman of Pullman & Comley LLC, who advised the town, said whoever owned the property would own the burden to the town, like back taxes. The state would essentially wait for the payments to begin again if there was no money coming in from the project. 

In November, the Planning Commission drafted a report detailing its support of the TIF plan. In the report, the commission said there are “financial and physical” risks to the town’s wellbeing if GLDC “fails to complete its work as the land developer, or sells out from the project prior to implementing the road and utility infrastructure of the approved master plan.” The site, in part because of the addition of sewer and water utilities and with the environmental issue resolved, their letter stated, “would become a prime target site for an 8-30g Affordable Housing project, to the probable extent of crowding out the kinds of commercial uses that Redding sees as essential for its tax base.”

Rachel Kirkpatrick, “Proposal Heads to Meeting,” The Redding Pilot, December 31, 2008, p. 1A, 11A

“The finance board has determined that it is ‘fiscally responsible’ to send a request to a town meeting to approve Tax Increment Financing (TIF) in the amount of $3.5 million for Georgetown Land Development Co.”

Susan Wolf, “Board Sends It to Town Meeting,” The Redding Pilot, December 24, 2008, pp. 1A, 12A

“Taxpayers should support the tax proposal that will be presented at a town meeting next Tuesday if they want to ensure the master redevelopment plan for the Gilbert & Bennett site in Georgetowncomes to fruition. The town will be voting to forgo portions of incremental tax revenues on the commercial properties on the Gilbert & Bennett site to pay back a $3.5-million loan Georgetown LandDevelopment Co. (GLDC), the redeveloper, would get from the state. This money would help the company pay for key road infrastructure work. 

The idea behind this concept, called tax increment financing, is that increased site value from the work creates more taxable property and, in turn, increases tax revenues for the town – revenues the town may gain sooner than if the project stalled because of lack of funding.”

Editorial, “Approve It,” The Redding Pilot, December 12, 2008, p. 4A

September

“While the day lighting of the Norwalk River is about 90% complete at the Georgetown redevelopment project at the former Gilbert & Bennett wire mill site, infrastructure work is temporarily stalled. ‘The roads are designed and ready to go,’ said Stephen Soler, Georgetown Land Development Co. (GLDC) president. 

‘We were going to the bond market,’ he said, adding that now there is a question of when the bonds can go on the market with a decent rate. 

‘With the collapse of Wall Street, it’s hard to sell bonds,’ he said. When the bonds do go on the market, they will be benefit assessment bonds. 

‘I think the bond market will open up by the end of the year,” said Mr. Soler, adding the company’s bonds will be structured “so they can weather the storm for the next three years.’ 

With the residential market stalled, Mr. Solar believes this portion of the project will be on hold at least a year, but expects commercial building to move forward.”

Brian Gioiele, “River Uncovered, Bonding Stalled,” The Redding Pilot, September 25, 2008, pp. 1A, 19A

August

“The Norwalk River, covered for decades with concrete slab and factory buildings, is slowly being ‘day lighted’ at the former Gilbert & Bennett wire mill in Georgetown. When the work is done, a 60-foot width of the river will be exposed along a 500-foot stretc from the waterfall on the property. Georgetown Land Development Co. is the redeveloper of the project, which will result in a pedestrian-friendly, transit-oriented village. Environmental cleanup is also part of the project.”

Susan Wolf, “Opening Up,” The Redding Pilot,August 14, 2008, p. 1A

June

“And this summer [GLDC attorney] Mr. [Richard] Gibbons said work will begin on uncovering the river as well as construction of the rail crossing. 

‘Things have been moving slower than we had hoped, but we’re making progress,’ said Mr. Gibbons.”

Brian Gioiele, “Preliminary Conceptual Plans Are on Table,” The Redding Pilot, June 5, 2008, p. 9A

May

“The Wilton Family Y will not have a satellite facility at the former Gilbert & Bennett wire mill. After several years of discussion with Georgetown Land Development Co., which is redeveloping the site off Route 107, the two said the Y has been unable ‘to develop a fiscally responsible and timely project plan’ for a facility.”

“Wilton Y Won’t Have Georgetown Facility,” The Redding Pilot, May 15, 2008, pp. 1A, 21A

2007

March

Senate Bill 1440 (”An Act Concerning the Special Taxing Districts Within Redding and Bridgeport and the Authority of Special Services Districts to Borrow Money”) referred to Joint Committee on Finance, Revenue and Bonding; with public hearing

– request to raises the debt ceiling of the GSTD

– TCR was contracted to subdevelop the site. Evans argued that raising the GSTD debt ceiling would undermine the marketability of the any development at the site. After the bill passed and was enacted into law, TCR pulled its contract with the GLDC and sued the company for return of its $1M deposit.

“TCR is concerned with the proposed changes because TCR is under contract to become the owner of a significant portion of this land, which it intends to develop and sell as individual residential lots and/or units to various buyers. TCR and the members of the public to whom TCR will be selling these units, would be acquiring properties subject to tax encumbrances to finance millions of dollars of debt for capital improvement projects with none of the usual limits on the District’s ability to tax TCR for it. In fact, the taxation powers of this district are expansive and unusual enough to raise constitutional concerns. The bill would allow “spot taxation” with no need for advance budgeting or board accountability, and scare away potential buyers due to the unpredictable authority the District would have to finance its significant debts. Voting the board out would be no remedy, because right now GLDC is the sole landowner, and therefore the only voter and in control of all board membership. By the time TCR would look to take title, GLDC could have saddled the District with millions in bond and budget-debt, with TCR and its future unit buyers as potentially responsible for repayment of the bonds and interest.”

David Evans, Trammell Crow Residential (“TCR”), Written Testimony, Public Hearings on SB 1440, CT General Assembly, Joint Committee of Finance, Revenue and Bonding, March 20, 2007

“A visitor to the former Gilbert & Bennett wire mill site would see significant changes in the landscape – 20 buildings have been demolished with recyclable materials stacked in piles. The waterfall once hidden by buildings is now visible, and soon the portion of the Norwalk River covered by buildings or concrete will see daylight.”

“Gilbert & Bennett Redevelopment Site Is Ever-Changing as Project Progresses,” The Redding Pilot,March 28, 2007, p. A001

August

“The lagoon site is owned by Georgetown Redevelopment Corp., a nonprofit corporation. GRC and Georgetown Land Development Co. are co-developers of the 55-acre former mill site. GLDC owns all of the land at the site north of Route 107; GRC owns the lagoon site. 

The remediation plan for the site is to cap the metal-impacted soil with appropriate monitoring and institutional controls. The estimated cost of the project is $1.5 million. The grant would cover approximately half that cost. 

GRC has a $200,000 federal Environmental Protection Agency grant through its Brownfields Cleanup Grant Program, in addition to a $100,000 Targeted Brownfields Assessment Grant from the Environmental Protection Agency. The corporation also has cash it received when it took title to the property. The remainder of the cost to remediate the site would be paid for by the redeveloper.”

“Board OKs Application to Clean Up Lagoon Site,” The Redding Pilot, August 30, 2007, p. A008

“Come September, [Mr. Soler] said, his company will have committed more than a $65-million investment into the project.”

“Soler Updates Board on Progress at Gilbert & Bennett Site,” The Redding Pilot, August 23, 2007, p. A003

“According to [Fuss & O’Neill licensed environmental professional] Mr. Rob Danielson, the regulations assume that if a person ate 100 grams (one teaspoon) of contaminated soil every day for 30 years, there would be a problem.”

“G&B Site: Remedial Action Plan Draws Concerns, Questions,” The Redding Pilot, August 23, 2007, p. A007

July

“The first grant of $600,000 was awarded by the state for the demolition and cleanup of three buildings on the old wire mill property. The town of Redding is partnering with the Georgetown Land Development Co. to revitalize the former wire mill industrial site, a brownfield.

That work was done earlier this year, so the town is now eligible to apply for the second grant. However, because two years have passed, the process has changed at the state level, Ms. Ketcham said, so another hearing is required. 

Because of the time lapse, the grant amount will now be $775,000 instead of $600,000, to take into account inflation and assorted fees, according to the first selectman. No town funds are involved, Ms. Ketcham said. 

The lagoon site is owned by Georgetown Redevelopment Corp., a nonprofit corporation. GRC and Georgetown Land Development Co. are co-developers of the 55-acre former mill site. GLDC owns all of the land at the site north of Route 107; GRC owns the lagoon site. 

The remediation plan for the site is to cap the metal-impacted soil with appropriate monitoring and institutional controls. GRC has a $200,000 federal Environmental Protection Agency grant through its Brownfields Cleanup Grant Program, in addition to a $100,000 Targeted Brownfields Assessment Grant from the EPA. The corporation also has cash it received when it took title to the property. The remainder to remediate the site and cover the grant administration fees would come from the proposed grant.”

Susan Wolf, “Grant for Lagoon Remediation Heads to a New Public Hearing,” The Redding Pilot, July 19, 2007, p. A003

“Mr. Joo also noted another 1,500 jobs are expected when Georgetown Land Development Co. builds a retail and housing complex at the site of the former Gilbert & Bennett wire mill in the Georgetown section of Redding by 2010.”

“Rell Says Jobs a Sign of Improved Economy: Gilbert & Bennett Redevelopment Project Will Bring New Jobs to the State,” The Redding Pilot, July 12, 2007, p. A022

Public Act 07-196 signed into law by Governor Jodi Rell, raising the debt ceiling on the GSTD

June

“Mr. Soler explained the effect of the changes to the legislation creating the special taxing district, which only applies to the redevelopment site. 

First, it allows the district to issue the green bonds ‘in a way that has no effect on the town of Redding’s bonding capacity,’ said Mr. Soler. ‘Our bonds are now in a separate bonding category.'”

Susan Wolf, “G&B Development Project Is Seeing Lots of ‘Green’,” The Redding Pilot, June 14, 2007, p. A001

2006

November

GSTD issues $14.45M in General Obligation Bonds to fund sewer expansion

Fall

GSTD receives $5M USDA Rural Development loan toward sewer expansion cost

2005

October

“With the creation of the Georgetown Tax District last month, Georgetown Land Development Company is taking steps to finance the sewer expansion it needs for its project. Georgetown Land Development Company plans to apply to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for bond financing, said Stephen Soler, company president. Financing is available through the USDA for rural communities, he said. Redding is classified as rural, he added.

Under a recently passed state law, entities that own the property in the district are entitled to vote in its affairs, including the formation process, and it allows the district to develop property for economic development purposes. This law was proposed by Georgetown Land Development Company and specifically applies to its property in Georgetown. 

In an earlier interview, Mr. Soler said his company’s legislation achieves three things. First, it establishes a financial mechanism for the development; it creates a mechanism to manage the village, such as overseeing street sweeping and road maintenance; and it maintains institutional control on any environmental caps that are put into place. 

Since only certain elements of the existing facility can be used, the new plant is estimated to cost $6.5 million. 

A tax district meeting is scheduled this Friday at town hall at 10:30 a.m. At that meeting, said Mr. Soler, a vote will be taken so the authority can enter into an interlocal agreement with the town’s Water Pollution Control Commission and to authorize the issuance of revenue bonds to finance the sewer plant expansion. The bonds would be paid back through user fees (from residents of the new village) or assessments. Since no one yet lives in the new village, only Mr. Soler has the right to vote at the meeting.”

Susan Wolf, “From the USDA: New Tax District Seeks Financing for Expansion of Sewer Plant; Financing Is Available Through the USDA for Rural Communities,” The Redding Pilot, October 20, 2005, p. A003

September

“Among the questions was one from Robert Dean, Planning Commission member, who wanted assurances that the town’s land use boards would not relinquish any control to the new tax district. 

‘Our taxing district does not trump the town’s zoning regulations,’ said Mr. Gibbons. (The tax district) can offer another level of enforcement, and if that fails, the town takes over. 

‘The taxing district will manage the common boundaries. It is not a land use agency,’ added Zoning Commission Chairman Frank Taylor.”

Brian Gioiele, “Company Prepares to Submit Final Site Plans for Former G&B Site: Tax District, the Plan, Three Districts,” The Redding Pilot,September 29, 2005, p. A002

“A town meeting to vote on the creation of a special tax district for the former Gilbert & Bennett wire mill site has been re-scheduled to Monday, Sept. 12, at town hall at 7:30. 

Georgetown Land Development Company (GLDC), the redeveloper of the 55-acre site off Route 107, proposed the legislation allowing for the creation of this tax district. The state legislature passed the special bill and the governor has signed it into law. 

Under the existing law, a district can’t be created until 15 residents who live on the property act upon the petition requesting the creation of a special tax district. Since no one now lives in the development, the district could not have been established under existing law until there were residents. 

Under the special act, the owners of Georgetown Land Development Company and Georgetown Redevelopment Corporation, the non-profit company that owns the lagoon site of the former wire mill property, can vote to create the tax district. The two companies are co-developers of the site. Stephen Soler, president of both companies, only has to cast one vote at the town meeting to establish the special tax district. 

While this special tax district is similar to others in existence, such as fire districts, it differs in two ways – it allows entities that own the property in the district to vote in its affairs, including the formation process, and it allows the district to develop property for economic development purposes.”

Susan Wolf, “Tax District Imminent for Former G&B Site,” The Redding Pilot, September 1, 2005, p. A007

Stephen Soler, president, GLDC and Georgetown Restoration Corporation (“GRC” [G&B Lagoon]), casts the sole vote to create the GSTD

July

Special Act 05-14 signed into law by Governor Jodi Rell

April

“The Board of Selectmen passed a resolution at Monday’s meeting that could pave the way for state legislation to provide for the establishment of a special tax district at the former Gilbert & Bennett wire mill site. 

Under the existing law, the district can’t be created until 15 residents who live on the property act upon the petition requesting the special tax district. Since the property has not yet been redeveloped, the company cannot meet this requirement. However, its proposed legislation would allow the corporation (GLDC) that owns the property to vote on the petition. 

In her letter, [board of finance chair] Ms. [Peggy] Sullivan said there would be less exposure and risk to the town if the tax district issued the revenue bonds. She also said it would provide for a clearer separation of the existing and new users of the sewer system with respect to debt. 

Marie Phelan, an attorney with Pullman and LLC, is the town’s bond counsel. ‘She recommended the resolution,’ said Ms. Ketcham. ‘It is her legal opinion there is no risk to the town with the creation of a special tax district.’ 

At Monday’s meeting, Mr. Soler said the state committee’s ideas is that each tax district become a special act in the legislature. ‘They don’t want unintended consequences,’ he said.”

Susan Wolf, “Selectmen Pass Resolution Favoring Special Tax District for G&B Land,” The Redding Pilot, April 21, 2005, p. A002

March

“Georgetown Land Development Company, the redeveloper of the former Gilbert & Bennett wire mill site, has submitted legislation affecting the creation of special tax districts in brownfield redevelopments. The raised bill is now before the state Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee. 

The company has already taken the first step to create a special tax district that would encompass the entire site. 

The first step was to file a petition with the required number of signatures asking the Board of Selectmen for a public meeting of the residents within the limits of the proposed tax district to act upon the petition. However, current law says that 15 residents who live on th e property are needed to act upon the petition. There are no residents at this time on the property, prompting the development company to seek a change in the law. 

Stephen Soler, company president, said the proposal, as it applies to brownfield redevelopment, is to allow 15 people or the people who own 50% of all of the property to act on a petition. “We own everything in the district, so if I show up, we would have a quorum,” he said. 

The intent of the proposed changes in the law is not to make it specific to the Gilbert & Bennett site but to make all brownfield redevelopments eligible to establish special taxing districts. 

On Monday, Mark Javello, CFO of the Georgetown Redevelopment Company, testified in support of the proposed legislation before the state committee. He spoke specifically to the first seven sections of the bill and said they provide three specific benefits: 

First, he said, the tax district is a financing model to help build core infrastructure and to maintain the infrastructure over the long term. 

The second benefit is that the tax district becomes the regulating body so the community that is being developed ‘maintains its integrity – not just in the short run, but in perpetuity…’ The people who live there will maintain the district like any other tax district in the state, he said in the prepared testimony. 

Mr. Javello said the third benefit is that the tax district becomes ‘the ongoing safety mechanism to manage the environmental controls necessary to maintain the health and safety of the site’s occupants and (to) maintain the integrity of capped impacted soils that may remain on-site.’ 

First Selectman Natalie Ketcham submitted written testimony in support of the proposed bill. ‘The bill supports the use of environmentally sound building techniques and green technology,’ she said in her testimony. 

It also answers questions ‘about how brownfield redevelopments can be financed, how communities can be empowered to maintain their own oversight of redevelopments, and how both the financing and oversight can be maintained over the long term,’ her testimony said. 

‘We wanted to make sure the legislation was done right,’ said Mr. Soler. ‘It is well thought out and is beneficial to other communities in the state. It could become a national model for the redevelopment of brownfield properties of this type.'”

Susan Wolf, “Company Proposes Legislation to Change Special Tax District Law,” The Redding Pilot, March 24, 2005, p. A001

Senate Bill 1331 (”An Act Establishing a Special Taxing District Within the Town of Redding”) referred to Joint Committee on Finance, Revenue and Bonding; with public hearing

February

“‘We’ll do our own financing on the construction of the [sewer] plant,’ he said.  

‘The bonds would be backed by the people who live in the new development,’ he later said. 

‘The credit risk sits on our shoulders,’ said Mr. Soler. He later said his company did not want the town to take on a credit risk, and it is just asking it to act ‘as a pass-through.'”

GLDC president Stephen Soler, quoted in: Susan Wolf, “G&B Redevelopment: Sewer Plant Is a First Major Step,” The Redding Pilot,February 3, 2005

January

“Though the first housing units will not be ready for occupancy until mid-2006, Mr. Soler has already filled an accordion file with hundreds of requests from potential buyers (including Ms. Haws). Mr. Soler plans to sell the housing development rights to builders who meet the company’s design standards. Sales will begin this summer.

‘People are walking in and offering $400,000 to $500,000 a lot, and that’s for an eighth of an acre,’ he said. ‘But I have to tell them, I can’t take any money yet.”

Lisa Prevost, “A Mill Town Writes Its Next Chapter,” The New York Times,January 30, 2005

2004

December

“Peggy Sullivan, finance board chairman, said [town attorney] Mr. LaVelle’s law firm is researching the tax exempt revenue bonds and Town Controller Larry Hutvagner will meet with representatives of People’s Bank for more information on them.”

Susan Wolf, “For G&B Redevelopment, Redeveloper Asks Town to Facilitate Financing,” The Redding Pilot, December 30, 2004, p. A001

October

“Most affluent Fairfield County towns tend to reject projects of this size and scope, but it was accepted here because of its historically sensitive planning and its promise of tax relief. Natalie Ketcham, who is the first selectwoman, the town’s highest elected officer, said this approach is a distinct shift for a town ‘with two-acre zoning, 32 square miles of mostly watershed land and very limited commercial development.’

She added: ‘It will have a very positive impact. The developer has projected between $4 million and $5 million in annual tax revenues, and he is setting up a special tax district, which will alleviate municipal costs by having the development’s residents pay for their own snow plowing, street lighting, landscaping, roads and fire and police protection, in lieu of the usual common charges.’ Currently, the town’s largest taxpayer is an assisted living business.”

Eleanor Charles, “Old Mill Gives Way to a Village,” The New York Times,October 20, 2004

September

Town of Redding Zoning Commission approves Master Plan

  • 416 units/housing
  • 375,000 sf/commercial, retail, and civic
  • MetroNorth train station
  • Wastewater treatment plant

Town of Redding Zoning Commission approves Special Development District, Legal Notices, The Redding Pilot, September 16, 2004, p. A024

August

“Frank Taylor, [zoning] commission chairman, said his commission would schedule a discussion and possible vote on the proposed master plan at its meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 8. The commission meets at town hall at 7:30 p.m. It has 35 days from the end of the hearing to render a decision. 

Georgetown Land Development Company is seeking a master plan special permit for the property. The company is proposing to create a new village center on the 55-acre site with a mixed use of housing, retail, office, manufacturing, restaurants, a theater, health club, and bed and breakfast. About half of the historic buildings at the site would be preserved. Plans also include a new railroad station and the environmental remediation of the former factory site in Georgetown. 

[GLDC attorney Richard Gibbon] said the taxing district proposed for the development would function as a quasi-municipality to deal with roadways, etc., and would enforce the covenants and design code and any conditions imposed by the master plan process.'”

Susan Wolf, “G&B Master Plan: Zoners Close Hearing,” The Redding Pilot,August 26, 2004, p. A001

June

GLDC Master Plan submitted to Town of Redding Zoning Commission

February

“The finance board wants more answers about the financial impact of the proposed redevelopment plan of the former Gilbert & Bennett factory site in Georgetown.

The board also wants to meet with Mr. Soler at its March 29 meeting to get a better understanding of his company’s Special Tax District for the property. A lawyer for the town’s bond counsel’s firm is also expected to attend.

Chairman [Peggy] Sullivan said the board wants to understand how the Special Tax District works.

The finance board has no role in the approval process for the proposed development. The Zoning Commission is the town agency that has jurisdiction. 

‘We didn’t get the answers to our questions from the developer,’ [board of finance member Mary Anne Guitar] said. The finance board ‘doesn’t have a handle on the special taxing district,’ she said.

Agreeing, member Chuck Mullaney said the board doesn’t have ‘enough disclosure about what we are dealing with.’ 

Of particular concern to [board of finance member] Mr. [Jim] Mullaney is the Georgetown Special Tax District Mr. Soler has created for the G&B site. ‘I want the tax district explained in extraordinary detail,’ said Mr. Mullaney. 

[Town of Redding First Selectman] Ms. [Natalie] Ketcham said it is the same as the fire districts in town. 

‘What’s evident is that we don’t know what a tax district is,’ said Mr. Mullaney. 

The first selectman suggested a meeting with Mr. Soler on the Special Tax District and offered to have the town’s bond counsel’s firm provide an attorney for the meeting. She said the selectmen had already met with the bond counsel about this type of tax district.

‘We don’t want to be blindsided by something. We need as many answers as we can get,’ said Ms. Guitar.

‘My concern is the questions we haven’t though about,” [board member Mr. Albert Viscio] said. 

Ms. Sullivan said her board should stick to questions that concern them and let the town’s other land use agencies, such as the Planning Commission, deal with issues of concern to them. She invited members to provide questions to take to the meeting with Mr. Soler.”

Susan Wolf, “G&B Development: Board Seeks Answers on Financial Impact,” The Redding Pilot, February 26, 2004, p. A001

January

“The Duany plan has gotten mixed reviews from Reddingites.

Another major boost to the project was getting the grant money this year, which had been approved in the spring 2002, to start work on the project. The $500,000 grant comes from the state Department of Economic and Community Development.”

Susan Wolf and Alexandra Farsun, “Top Stories of 2003,” The Redding Pilot, January 1, 2004

2003

“ — a developer’s dream that will become the town’s nightmare, and a costly one at that.”

Joan D. Ensor, “Developer’s Dream Could Become Town’s Nightmare,” The Redding Pilot,December 6, 2003

“…self-reliant Georgetown/Redding. Our town was settled by those whose values are rooted in small-town community service and a connection with the land and its history.

‘Despite the rosy picture drawn of tax revenues, Redding residents will not benefit directly from wealth to be created by the plan. Those who own real estate will be the winners.'”

Mary Anne Guitar, “Is ‘New Urbanism’ Right for Town?” The Redding Pilot, December 11, 2003, p. 5A

October

“The town’s boards and commissions will be meeting on Monday, Sept. 29, at the Redding Community Center at 7:30 p.m. to learn more about New Urbanism. This is the approach that will be taken by the designers for the redevelopment of the Gilbert & Bennett property….It is an official business meeting, said First Selectman Natalie Ketcham, but members of the public can attend “to listen and to learn.”

 “Officials Will Meet to Learn About New Urbanism,” The Redding Pilot, October 30, 2003

“Mr. Soler said the debt incurred by the bonding would have no impact on the town of Redding.

Bill Penn, financial consultant for GLDC, said it would be ‘a tax exempt revenue bond… This would be the sole liability of the tax district, backed by the sale of real estate.’ Mr. Penn emphasized Mr. Soler’s point, saying, ‘The town is not at all considered a backup.'”

Kimberly Donnelly, “At the Charrette Planners Discuss How Georgetown Redevelopment Project Will Be Financed,” The Redding Pilot,October 30, 2003

Four-day GLDC planning workshop led by architect-planner Andrés Duany

July

Environmental Site Characterization Work Plan approved by CT Department of Environmental Protection

March

GLDC discharges $26M Commercial Bank of Kuwait mortgage for $500,000; Total Cost of  Site Acquisition: $1.5M

2002

October

“In September 2002, Georgetown Land Development Company, through its wholly owned subsidiary, GH Holdings, purchased the town’s tax liens on the factory property and eventually was granted a deed in lieu of foreclosure on the former owner, Gilbert & Bennett Limited Partnership. It took title to the property and an outstanding mortgage held by the Commercial Bank of Kuwait.”

Warren Bloomfield, “Former Gilbert & Bennett Wire Mill Site Has Long History in Georgetown,” The Redding Pilot,October 16, 2003

Environmental study begins

GLDC initiates foreclosure proceedings on the property

September

Georgetown Land Development Co. (GLDC) purchases tax liens from Town of Redding for $999,252.20 

1998

Gilbert & Bennett Limited Partnership files for bankruptcy

1987

Gilbert & Bennett Historic buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places

Georgetown Historic District designation

1985

Gilbert & Bennett LP takes over G&B Mfg Co

1848

Gilbert & Bennett moves to Georgetown site

1818

Gilbert & Bennett Manufacturing Co. founded in Redding