The Day

ThayerMaha­n cancels plan to redevelop Groton Heights School

Company will remain at current site in town

- By KIMBERLY DRELICH Day Staff Writer

Groton — ThayerMaha­n, a Groton-based marine technology company, no longer plans to redevelop the Groton Heights School property, located in the city near the Bill Memorial Library and Fort Griswold, as its headquarte­rs and research and developmen­t center.

The growing company, which is located at 120 Leonard Drive in Groton and has more than 100 employees, was looking for additional space and had planned to redevelop the townowned Groton Heights property.

ThayerMaha­n Chairman and CEO Michael Connor told the town last week that it is free to offer the Groton Heights property to another party.

In a Feb. 21 letter to Town Manager John Burt, Connor cited three factors for the company’s decision: the environmen­tal clean-up required for the property, an opportunit­y to buy the space ThayerMaha­n currently rents on Leonard Drive and expand as other tenants’ leases expire, and not having “the management bandwidth” to redevelop the Groton Heights property “while attending to the needs of our rapidly expanding business.”

A town and city committee had selected ThayerMaha­n as the preferred developer for the roughly 2-acre former elementary school property, located at 244 Monument St., which has been vacant since 2007. The town approved a letter of intent for the sale and redevelopm­ent of the property in 2019. ThayerMaha­n said in 2021 that the company hit a lull during the pandemic, but was re-initiating contract negotiatio­ns with the town.

Connor wrote in his Feb. 21 letter that the environmen­tal status of the property is unknown.

“We appreciate the many offers we had to provide financial assistance with the mitigation of environmen­tal conditions, but we still feel that the potential liability could have exceeded the resources of our company,” he wrote.

Jon Reiner, the town’s planning and developmen­t director, said the Groton Heights School, like many older buildings, faces issues, such as lead, PCBs, asbestos and mold, and also has to be brought up to building and fire codes. As ThayerMaha­n was doing its due diligence on the property, the company realized the extent of the environmen­tal remediatio­n on the property was more than anyone originally thought.

The town received a brownfield grant from the state Department of Economic and Community Developmen­t for the property, but it was not enough to cover clean-up costs, Reiner said. The town looked into applying for another type of grant, but ThayerMaha­n decided not to move forward, which then prompted the town to ask what the company’s intent was for the property, he said. The town then received the letter from ThayerMaha­n.

Connor said in his letter that the company’s existing space on Leonard Drive “is ideally suited to the light industrial nature of our business, has room for expansion of ThayerMaha­n spaces as other tenants’ leases expire, has easy access for trucks and has sufficient room outdoors to test our equipment prior to preparing for operations at sea.”

Connor added that he lives and works in Groton.

“I believe that the best thing for ThayerMaha­n and the Town of Groton is for ThayerMaha­n to continue to focus on expanding our company and providing quality employment opportunit­ies in Groton,” he said.

“I’m disappoint­ed that a company of that caliber and of that technology was not able to establish themselves in the City of Groton,” said City of Groton Mayor Keith Hedrick. “They would be a great asset to the city.”

Burt said the most important thing is that ThayerMaha­n is thriving and continues to grow in the community, as the company is an important part of the town’s future.

“I would have loved to have had ThayerMaha­n buy Groton Heights, but there will be other uses that come along,” Burt added. “One use that comes to mind is the possibilit­y of apartments to help with the increasing number of employees at Electric Boat.”

The future use of the property has not been decided. Burt said the next step would be to go before the Town Council to discuss how it would like to proceed.

Reiner said the Town Council is working on revising its process for how the town disposes of excess property.

The letter of intent also envisions that the town would help the Bill Memorial Library and ThayerMaha­n exchange two small land parcels, so Reiner said town staff plans to talk to both the library and the Town Council about what the best next steps would be.

 ?? KIMBERLY DRELICH/THE DAY ?? The former Groton Heights School in 2019.
KIMBERLY DRELICH/THE DAY The former Groton Heights School in 2019.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States