Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Soon-to-be-released bond money will get Roosevelt Mills renovation going

By Ben Rubin
Journal Inquirer
January 18, 2008

VERNON —With the aid of $1.2 million in state bonding to be released for the Roosevelt Mills project next week, ground could be broken as soon as this spring for the $13 million redevelopment plan.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell announced Wednesday that the money should be approved by the Bond Commission on Jan. 25. Since Rell is chairwoman of the commission and sets its agenda, the funding almost definitely will be released.

"We're now going to be able to clean up that area sooner rather than later," Mayor Jason L. McCoy said Wednesday, adding: "It's an entirely pretty positive thing."

The $1.2 million is the final amount needed to start the project, and the money will be used to clean up the land at the defunct sweater mill and demolish some buildings at the complex.

Architect and developer Joseph Vallone of Westport plans to turn the charred 1906 property into 68 apartments and 10,000 square feet of office space.

"It's going to be a big, big plus for residents
in the area because they've been looking
at that eyesore for a long time."

Rep. Claire L. Janowski

"We're all excited about it. ... It's going to put that burned-out mill back on the tax rolls," Rep. Claire L. Janowski, D-Vernon, said today. "It's going to be a big, big plus for residents in the area because they've been looking at that eyesore for a long time."

In December the mayor and the Town Council sent a unanimous resolution to Rell requesting the money be placed on the Bond Commission's agenda. Simultaneously, local state representatives have been lobbying for the project.

While less than the original $1.5 million request, the $1.2 million should be sufficient to get the project done, McCoy said.

Rell praised the concept for the mill redevelopment plan for reusing underutilized space within a community.

"This grant will spur the creative redevelopment of a mill that for too long has been an eyesore and safety hazard in Rockville," she said in a release.

Roosevelt Mills was boarded up after its owner sold the business. About 10 years ago, a huge fire burned the complex, knocking out all the windows and leaving the building unsightly. Still, because the main building was constructed with reinforced concrete, the structure remains in solid.

"It would be a shame, totally, to demolish it, because it's so sound," Janowski said. "So I think it is a great thing to get it in shape and make it functional. It's just a great day for Vernon."

©Journal Inquirer 2008