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New London exploring options for move of city offices

December 22, 2018

New London — City officials have toured three commercial buildings in anticipation of the consolidation of many of the city’s administrative offices into one leased space.

The Shaw’s Cove Six office complex off Howard Street, Mariner Square at 125 Eugene O’Neill Drive and Citizens Bank at 63 Eugene O’Neill Drive are all under early consideration by the city.

Shaw’s Cove Six, owned by Jason and Andrew Julian, is the former home of the Connecticut Department of Labor American Job Center, which moved to Montville this year. The Citizen’s Bank, owned by Readco New London LLC, currently is occupied but has signed a lease at a new space on Bank Street.

Mariner Square, which is advertising available “Class A” commercial office space, is owned by a company whose principal is David D’Addario and agent is Andrew Julian.

Felix Reyes, director of the city’s Office of Development and Planning, said the three locations are some of the limited number of options available that could accommodate the approximately 30,000 square feet of space needed for the move. All available spaces will be considered, he said.

Mayor Michael Passero in November signed a letter of understanding with Readco which represented a precursor to an access agreement allowing city officials to take a look inside the 34,143-square-foot Citizens Bank building.

Reyes said the access agreement was needed, since the building is occupied.

“The letter of understanding is neither a binding legal agreement nor should it be construed as a legal offer to lease,” the letter, signed by Passero and Readco President Michael Lech, reads.

Readco also agreed to provide the city with floor plans and drawing to facilitate a test fit for city needs. Reyes said the building would be evaluated with all others and no decisions would be made without a formal process that starts with the City Council.

Earlier this month, Reyes presented the City Council with a proposal to consolidate offices and sell off three of the four city-owned buildings that currently are home to a variety of city offices. The move is a way to curb the $313,000 in annual maintenance costs and avoid millions of dollars in future capital expenses.

That list of buildings includes the Richard R. Martin Center at 120 Broad St. — already on the market — the finance building at 13-15 Masonic St. and the Stanton Building at 11 Union St. There are no immediate plans to sell City Hall.

The City Council on Monday met behind closed doors to discuss details of a possible sale of the Martin Center with an undisclosed buyer. The council will have the final say on the sale of the buildings and the move to consolidate.

The Parks and Recreation and Public Utilities departments already are planning to move out of the Martin Center in the coming months.

Reyes said the city’s next step is to work with the City Council to develop a request for qualifications and collect more information about available spaces.

“This will be an open process. I’m going to be very methodical to make sure everyone gets a fair shake,” Reyes said. “The whole goal is to narrow it down to at least two buildings.”

He said the size of the space is not the only factor when it comes to a final decision. The city will need to “test fit” the space to ensure it can accommodate all programmatic needs, such as the city clerk’s office vault, for instance.

The cost to lease the space will be the subject of final negotiations and a major factor in the final decision, Reyes said. Passero has said his goal was to have lease options available when the new municipal budget is prepared.

g.smith@theday.com

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