Lamont comes to New London to tout economic development

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Greg Smith, The Day, New London, Conn.
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Apr. 8—NEW LONDON — The parking lot of the 137-unit apartment complex known as The Docks served as an appropriate backdrop Wednesday for a visit by Gov. Ned Lamont.

The governor was here to show his commitment to building economic growth in southeastern Connecticut, and New London took center stage.

Workers in the parking lot were busy unloading and unwrapping new appliances for the apartments expected to open in June. Finish work is ongoing inside and out. There were warning beeps of trucks backing up and buzzing of power tools in the distance.

Pennsylvania-based A.R. Building Co., which developed the complex at the corner of Bank and Howard streets, is investing more than $150 million on housing developments in the area — three in New London and another in Groton.

The site, formerly known as Parcel J, would have been silent three or four years ago, said U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District.

"Even though we have a little background noise, I consider that a good thing," he said, crediting Mayor Michael Passero and Economic Development Director Felix Reyes with helping to drive economic success in the city.

"We could be doing ribbon-cutting for months, in terms of just the activity going on here," Courtney said. "No city deserves it more. As (state Sen. Paul Formica, R-East Lyme) said, the bones have always been there. We all know it, those who've been around here. New London was always this close to getting that sort of vital cycle of growth and now we're really seeing it happen."

Passero, crediting Lamont for continued support during the pandemic, noted the list of state-supported projects in the pipeline is long: a $200 million State Pier upgrade project, a $100 million National Coast Guard Museum, a $20 million state-funded pedestrian bridge.

There are two school construction projects underway, a recently approved $30 million community recreation complex, ongoing upgrades to the waterfront by Cross Sound Ferry and a $25 million industrial marine complex being pitched by Mohawk Northeast.

"This is just a great opportunity for us to show off everything going in the city of New London," Passero said.

Courtney and others said offshore wind is likely to be a big factor in the local economy in the future, especially considering President Joe Biden's administration is aggressively accelerating the permitting process for offshore wind turbines.

"Wind power is going to be one of the big investments," Lamont said. "Connecticut for once is not late to the game. We're first in line. We're going to have our pier ready to go and we're going to make sure wind power is a big piece of our state's future."

Courtney called the shift to wind power as a renewable energy source is "a multi-generational change in terms of how America is going to power its economy and New London is going to be right at the center of that."

The project at State Pier, through a partnership with joint venture partners Ørsted and Eversource, awaits permit approval for the bulk of the work to be conducted at the pier.