Plans to convert a large former factory in downtown New Britain into apartments took a step closer to realization last week when the state awarded the city and the building’s owner a large environmental cleanup grant.
Aerospace manufacturer Polar Corp. is partnering with the city to redevelop 27 Columbus Blvd., locally known as “the Polar building,” into 62 mixed-income apartments. The brick factory complex was built in 1900 and was added on to in 1920, according to city property records. The complex totals over 100,000 square feet and sits on 1.5 acres.
Demolition has already begun on part of the property, city officials said in an announcement this week, but most of the structures on-site will be restored as part of the project, including a neighboring six-unit apartment building.
The project received $1.35 million in state grants last week to clean up or otherwise abate contamination on-site after the city paid for two environmental investigations. Most of the contamination, city officials said, is “cutting oils” that were not disposed of properly decades ago and have leaked into the building’s floors, plus some surface contamination and asbestos throughout the property.
Polar Corp. will be pursuing historic tax credits to help fund some of the $15 million projects, the city said. Innovative Engineering Services, LLC is the mechanical engineer and Phase Zero Designs is the project architect.
“The redevelopment of the Polar building is the latest piece in the transformation we have been seeing throughout the city that has been made possible through partnerships with property owners who are committed to our vision and want to invest their own resources into New Britain’s future,” New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart said in a statement. “This grant from CT DECD will allow the city to continue its partnership with the owner of the Polar building to convert this property from a blighted eyesore that is a target for vandalism to yet another attractive housing option for those looking to move into downtown New Britain and experience all the great things our city has to offer.”
New Britain has been one of the Greater Hartford area’s hot spots for multifamily development, in part thanks to the city’s CTfastrak bus rapid transit terminal.