Demolition begins on 17-acre Anamet site in Waterbury
WATERBURY — Sprayers soaked a partially collapsed manufacturing building off South Main Street Thursday morning as an clawed excavator pulled away sections of building, striving to complete a demolition already begun by neglect, gravity and weather.
The water is meant to keep dust and building materials from blowing off-site during demolition.
A contractor hired by the city has begun demolishing buildings on the long-dormant, 17-acre, Anamet manufacturing site. The state has given the city $3 million for its bid to get the site back into use and on the tax rolls.
For a long time, Anamet has stood as a symbol of the city’s decline. The site along South Main Street employed hundreds in multiple shifts daily decades ago. Anamet once bragged about being the biggest global manufacturer of flexible metal hose. But it withered along with much of the city’s industrial base, ultimately closing in 2000.
Since then, there have been multiple fires. Buildings have begun falling apart due to the ravages of weather coupled with an absence of maintenance. Windows are broken. Graffiti and litter are everywhere. Scrappers stole dozens of metal manhole covers, prompting the city to cover them with hefty cement blocks to avoid injuries. The site has been a magnet for drug activity, and, some neighbors say, prostitution.
The city bought the property for $650,000 in 2017, launching the turnaround effort. This week, contractor Manafort Bros. began demolition under a $1.8 million contract. Mayor Neil O’Leary, state lawmakers, city aldermen, state officials and other dignitaries showed up to celebrate this latest phase of redevelopment Thursday.
“Reclaiming this scarred land and turning it into a viable site is key for the future economic development and job creation of our city,” Mayor Neil O’Leary said during at the site ceremony Thursday morning.
O’Leary credited state and federal agencies, along with federal and state lawmakers for providing the needed resources. O’Leary said redevelopment of polluted and dormant industrial sites, also known as “brownfields,” has been a pillar of his administration since he first took office in 2011.
Alderman Victor Lopez Jr. said the project is part of a broader effort to redevelop the South End.
Lopez heads the Hispanic Coalition, a group headquartered on nearby East Liberty Street that provides an array of social services. He said residents frequently ask him when the city might demolish the monstrous eyesore.
“I’m so excited that now, today, even the residents that are looking out their windows and standing up on their porches right now are seeing that there’s actual work getting done and these buildings are finally coming down,” Lopez said.
The Aname is held by 698 South Main Street Inc., a group of local business leaders and officials formed by the city to manage the redevelopment project. Staff from the city’s Waterbury Development Corp. are assisting.
The group voted to hire Manafort Bros. to handle the ongoing demolition project for a fee of up to $1.8 million.
The plan is to eventually demolish most buildings, leaving up a single, 220,000-square-foot, building for reuse. There is also need to cleanup industrially polluted soils.
The city needs another $2 million to complete the job, estimates James Nardozzi, interim CEO of Waterbury Development Corp. He’s applied for another $1 million state grant and will continue seeking other funding sources.
Under its contract, Manafort has 150 days, or about five months, to complete its current job. Giving funding limitations, after that work is done, the city will still have to demolish a large powerhouse building and an office building, as well as clear industrially polluted soils under the buildings.