By Lindsay Carey
Demolition of the buildings of the abandoned Ideal Forging factory will begin soon and is expected to be finished by the end of the year.
The Meridian Development Partners’ plan to build 263 condominiums as well as some retail stores is known as the Greenway Commons project.
“It’s going to look much better,” said Southington Chamber of Commerce President Art Secondo. “The factory is an eyesore.”
According to Economic Development Coordinator Lou Perillo, everything on site will be demolished except for the former pump house, which will be kept for historical preservation. He also said a two-story parking garage near High Street is in the plans for this project.
Meridian Development Partners purchased the 14 acres of land from the town in 2007. However, quite a few obstacles have put the project at a stand still for several years.
The contamination from the forging sight forced a need for a significant environmental cleanup project to remove manufacturing chemicals and oils.
Additionally, the development company bargained for low interest loans to assist with demolition and remediation as well tax increment financing for the district. Still, after all of those goals were accomplished, the project has yet to take off.
The demolition of the factory will be a major step towards this project being followed through.
The Greenway Commons project has generated enormous interest in the economic future of Southington, according to Secondo. He said that many of the businesses in the area initially spruced up their facilities in anticipation of the customers that the condominiums and retail area would bring.
Though many town leaders have been cautiously optimistic, Secondo said that he is getting impatient because the Meridian Development Partners have not provided updates or details to town officials.
Secondo is becoming wary about what’s going to happen with the project, because it looks like it could be another three to four years before Greenway Commons is up and running.
“We were very excited when this plan first cam forward,” said Secondo. “Very few communities have the opportunity to refurbish their old factories and turn it into a thriving part of the community. The downside is we don’t know when it’s going to happen.”
Howard Schlesinger, from the Meridian Development Partners, could not be reached for comment.
The factory originally began as Peck, Stow & Wilcox Company (PEXTO), a manufacturer that made mechanical tools like drawing knives, paper weights, roller skates and much more.
At one time, PEXTO was the largest company in the industry, according to the Southington Historical Society. It was the largest employer for a century. The factory opened in 1870 and remained open as PEXTO until 1950 when another tool manufacturer bought them out.