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Learn about New Britain, CT, including Featured News, Key Projects, and The Team.
Just a short drive outside of Hartford, New Britain is located just about the center of the state with easy access to major highways. The City is just a 2 hour drive to both Boston and New York. The Energy and Innovation Park is constructing a 19.98 megawatt fuel cell grid and 275,000 gross sf data center offering data storage and protection to numerous entities including educational, governmental and private sector businesses in the Stanley Black and Decker campus. New Britain is also home to the 7th largest hospital in the state. Known as the “hardware city” due to its rich manufacturing history, New Britain remains home to Stanley Black & Decker, a fortune 500 company that maintains its world headquarters within the City. This diverse city is home to several art museums and community theatres, like the popular New Britain Museum of American Art and the Hole in the Wall Theatre. For those looking to spend time outside, New Britain has 1,200 acres of scenic parks and sport complexes to enjoy like Walnut Hill Park or Stanley Quarter Park with walking paths, ponds, and playgrounds. Central Connecticut State University is located downtown of the city, with over 12,000 students enrolled each year.
Speaking on the wet concrete floor of a dark ex-factory from the World War II era, Gov. Ned Lamont and New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart proclaimed that the building will soon be the first stage of a cutting-edge energy and tech project.
“What this is going to do for the city of New Britain is transformative — a few hundred jobs to start, thousands of jobs when it’s completed,” Stewart said.
“This center is going to become one of our largest taxpayers virtually overnight,” she predicted.
At its construction groundbreaking, EIP LLC said it is spending $100 million to bring 44 Connecticut-made fuel cells to the building. By the end of 2020, the plant will produce nearly 20 megawatts of power for the local energy grid, the company said.
Lamont said the project represents the best of entrepreneurship, and predicted that an attached data center — planned as a later stage — will draw the biggest names in technology.
"This will be the data heart for Google, Amazon and Microsoft. It’s amazing, this is ‘the cloud,’ " Lamont said, looking around the spartan industrial building of bare pipes, tubes, conduits and girders. “I thought ‘the cloud’ was more heavenly than this.”
The state this summer agreed to $55 million in tax credits for the project, which developers said would make Connecticut competitive in the drive to land high-tech, data and green energy businesses.
Mark Wick, a partner in EIP, acknowledged that the company doesn’t yet have contracts with companies such as Amazon, which require massive amounts of digital data storage that’s both secure and accessible. The data center is also a later stage of the planned multi-year, $1 billion project.
The plan is to remodel a few long-vacant Stanley factories and build several new buildings on what was a huge industrial tract along Myrtle Street. The land is still owned by Stanley Black and Decker, successor to the Stanley Works, once the centerpiece of New Britain’s hardware-manufacturing industry. Stanley will lease space to EIP.
The company plans “a high-performance computing center, data center, microgrid powered by Doosan fuel cells manufactured right here in Connecticut,” Wick said. The first phase is the fuel cell center on Curtis Street.
“This facility in this building will become the largest indoor fuel cell installation in the world,” Wick told a crowd of city officials, state lawmakers and business owners.
EIC next year will be moving Doosan fuel cells into the vintage 45,000-square-foot brick building, which was once Stanley’s hardware stamping plant. “We expect to have many people back at a ribbon-cutting at the end of 2020 when we’re commissioned and putting 20 megawatts out into the grid.”
Stewart acknowledged that the project created ill will among preservationists last year because it entailed demolishing more than a half-dozen Stanley buildings from the turn of the century.
“Every one was talking about getting rid of historic property and what that means to a community,” she said. “But to see this historic site being reused into something that’s going to absolutely benefit not just New Britain or the state of the Connecticut, but the entire region is going to be an incredible thing.”
A recent report from the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities offered welcomed news for city taxpayers, while property owners in other area cities and towns may be displeased with the findings.
According to the CCM, property tax rates increased in nearly 80 Connecticut municipalities for fiscal year 2019-20, according to an analysis released Aug. 26.
However, the Hardware City saw no property tax hike, while those living in the neighboring communities of Berlin, Newington and Bristol did not escape a tax increase.
Property tax hikes took place in 79 municipalities across the state; 59 of those 79 towns had tax hikes greater than the latest 1.6 % inflation rate reported for Connecticut.
The following are the changes in mill rates seen the area:
. New Britain’s mill rate remained the same at 50.5.
. Bristol’s mill rate increased from 36.88 to 38.05, a 3.17 % increase
. Berlin’s mill rate increased from 32.5 from 33.93, a 4.4 % increase
. Newington’s mill rate increased from 38.5 to 39.45, a 2.47 % increase.
. Plymouth’s mill rare increased from 39.69 to 40.63, a 2.37 % increase.
. Plainville’s mill rate increased from 33.84 to 34.62, a 2.30 % increase.
. Southington’s mill rate increased from 30.48 to 30.64, a 0.52 % increase.
“The need for adequate state aid to achieve significant property tax relief - along with other diversified local revenue sources and greater authority to contain local costs - is undeniable,” said Joe DeLong, CCM executive director and CEO. “Nearly 100 towns and cities were forced to increase their property tax rates because of cuts in some state aid programs, and in spite of sustained state aid in others areas for local governments.”
Thirty towns were able to sustain the same mill rate and 13 towns were able to slightly reduce their mill rate.
“We are proud to be among the handful of towns who were able to keep taxes down this year,” said Mayor Erin Stewart in a statement. “Balancing a $242 million budget and keeping services intact as residents have come to expect them is no easy task. It requires strong leadership, planning, sound fiscal management, and the ability to negotiate and work with a variety of parties. We will continue to pursue the creation of new revenue streams to help keep the tax rate down in the future. “
Statewide, local property taxes now total more than $11 billion, an increase of at least $500 million since 2017. That exceeds the state’s largest source of revenue, the personal income tax, which yielded nearly $10.8 billion in 2018 (the latest year for complete data).
“Some enhanced state aid enacted over the last several state legislative sessions has enabled some already high-tax communities to hold the line on property tax increases, or in some towns, to actually reduce taxes,” said DeLong. “Despite this, some communities still have extraordinarily high property tax rates. Relying on the property tax to continue to fund local government is unsustainable.”
The per capita property tax burden in Connecticut is $2,847, almost twice the national average of $1,518 and the third highest in the nation.
The property tax in Connecticut is depended upon to raise 72 percent of all local revenues.
State aid to municipalities in Connecticut still represents only 23.4 percent of municipal revenues; that is well below the national average of 32.9 percent, and ranks Connecticut 40th in the nation in state aid to local governments, the CCM reported.
And, Connecticut is one of only 15 states that limits municipalities to raise revenue only from the property taxes.
The New Britain Common Council voted 13-0 Wednesday night to authorize $57 million in bond authorizations for renovations at Chamberlain Elementary School and roofing projects at Slade and Pulaski Middle Schools.
Though the project was approved by the City, it still requires confirmation from state officials on whether they will reimburse the project, which is typically around the 80 percent rate. The cost estimate for Chamberlain is $49 million. Other costs include $1 million for temporary classroom space, $3 million for the replacement of a roof at Pulaski, $3 million for a roof replacement at Slade, and $1 million in financing costs.
“I’m proud to support this additional, substantial investment in our schools and children,” said Mayor Erin Stewart. “It is important that our children are provided with a safe and adequate learning environment. A special thank you also to state Rep. Robert Sanchez, Co-Chair of the Education Committee, for helping us make repairs to our aging infrastructure.”
The “renovate as new” Chamberlain project will address deficiencies in building space, program needs, site safety issues, community needs, and code compliance considering both present and future needs. Building spaces will be modernized with technology equipment in areas such as the media center and all instructional spaces including mobile computer carts, wireless access points and computer lab. Contemporary classrooms will be built with interactive whiteboards. The Chamberlain Campus also includes a 40-year old temporary portable building which houses four classrooms that will be demolished and incorporated into the main building.
The Chamberlain project will also involves making improvements to the site traffic pattern and adding additional parking spaces. An addition to the existing school will also be added to create new space for a school based health center and family resource center.
Chamberlain was originally built in 1952 and much of the original construction materials are still present in the classrooms; renovations and additions were made in 1993.
The funding request comes as work is wrapping up on a $48 million renovation of Smalley Elementary School in the North Oak area. The school will be completed in time for students this fall.
The Mayor states that the projects will not move forward until the City has received reimbursement from the state for the Smalley Elementary School renovation.