MEMBER BLOG: Major Projects Advance Stratford Economic Development


Member Blog: July 5, 2022

The Town of Stratford is proud to begin its 2022 economic development overview with a quick nod to community and economic development successes in 2021. Stratford High School’s Additions and Renovations Project, designed by local firm Antinozzi Associates Architecture & Interiors, and built by Turner Construction with an exceptional team of local contractors, was awarded the FIRST-place award for the 2022 Connecticut Building Congress (CBC) Project Team Award in the Large K-12 Schools Category.

“The Town of Stratford and Stratford Public Schools are pleased that the Stratford High School design and project are being honored as emulating the 21st Century learning environment,” says Mayor Laura R. Hoydick. “The collaborative model of community, town, and school worked well in developing an outstanding school building and we are thankful for our partnership with Antinozzi Associates and Turner Construction.

In 2022, Stratford is seeing robust and carefully-guided economic development projects, large and small, in a wide variety of sectors ranging from manufacturing, small business, Complete Streets, Transit Oriented District, brownfield cleanup, mixed use, parks, and the arts.

Major projects include the Town’s work to acquire

Sikorsky Memorial Airport which is being sold by the City of Bridgeport and the conveyance of the 77-acre Army Engine Plant to the preferred commercial developer expected this month.

Mayor Laura R. Hoydick announced the Town’s interest in acquiring the airport as soon as Bridgeport announced its intent to sell the property and facilities, which are entirely within Stratford town limits. With talk from state officials about possible enhanced development at regional airports for private and commercial carriers to help boost the local, regional and state economy, Mayor Hoydick told a meeting of the Sikorsky Memorial Airport Commission, “The needs and desires of Stratford and the region can only be served by having the airport run by those who answer to those who live here, and have the most to lose or gain, depending on the type of expansion that may take place.”

The sale of the airport is subject to approval by the Commission, Bridgeport City Council, and the Federal Aviation Authority.

A few hundred yards up Main Street, at the long-dormant 77-acre Stratford Army Engine Plant, Town officials announced that, after over 25 years of their advocacy, the property is set to be conveyed from the federal government to developer Point Stratford Renewal in mid-May. Once the closing takes place, the developer will demolish the existing buildings, cap the land, and then develop the site. The project will benefit the entire southern Connecticut region, and early plans call for waterfront access for the public.

Among the most significant major local developments occurring in early 2022 was Sikorsky Aircraft securing new and extended contracts with the U.S. government that provide for the manufacturer of the world’s preeminent helicopters to operate in Stratford and the region through 2040.

While the small business community doesn’t always garner top news headlines, their growth can be seen throughout Stratford. Next door to Sikorsky Aircraft at the Merritt Parkway interchange, Parkway Plaza has a Starbucks moving in and a second phase of development includes a waterfront hotel with several thousand square feet of office/retail space.

Several eateries have come to town, too, from Tasty Yolk in Paradise Green and Fishbar de Milan in Stationhouse Square to the Golden Krust in Knott’s Landing, Dulce de Leche, an Argentinian bakery on Broadbridge Avenue, and Restaurante di Sofia on Barnum Avenue. With its newly-minted streetscape, Barnum Avenue has seen a flourish of new businesses including Broadway on Barnum, Cupcakes by Sonia, Emerest Homecare, and CARite dealership and service center.

Next on deck this summer will be a newly-refurbished Cutrufello’s building and NaturalAnnie Essentials Soy Candle at 1258 Barnum Ave. Also complementing our larger projects, the Center welcomed Readers Block book store, Oar & Oak Restaurant, and Frenchies Coffee Shop.

Stratford Center will be a hub of activity with a first class transit oriented district (TOD) Center School Redevelopment project headed to the Town Council for approval in the upcoming months. The project by selected developer Spirit-Kaali-Nagy, now posted on the Economic & Community Development website, will create excitement in the center of town.

Complete Streets is another project enhancing the heart of downtown. Work is beginning on bike/pedestrian lanes from Town Center up to Barnum Avenue. Phase 2 will follow and extend from Barnum Avenue to Paradise Green. This project is being fully-funded by Connecticut OPM, the Office of Policy & Management. Development is expanding along Ferry Boulevard with a new, residential/commercial mixed use building convenient to the new I-95 exit 33 interchange. Two additional mixed use projects also are being developed along the Ferry Boulevard corridor. And a new Stratford Avenue/Honeyspot Road Roundabout is in the final design phase and once complete, will enhance one of the doorways to Stratford. The work to improve vehicular traffic flow, offer wider pedestrian walkways, and improve lighting begins in 2023.
The Stratford Avenue - Honeyspot Road neighborhood has recently attracted Shannon Landscaping and Auto Restoration, two Stratford businesses that are expanding and adding locations. New businesses also choosing to settle in this neighborhood include: Repasi Motorwerks, a Porsche specialist; nOURish, a hydroponic farm; and Stratford Guns and Ammo, a gun store and shooting range.

The Raymark Superfund cleanup is progressing on schedule for mid-2024 completion. The adjacent brownfield property, Contract Plating on Longbrook Avenue, is on the market. Over $2.8 million in Department of Economic Development (DECD) grants have been utilized to remediate this 10-acre, town-owned property. DECD has additional funds earmarked for the Town of Stratford once a developer is in place.

New opportunities abound at the Elm Street park that was home to the American Shakespeare Festival Theater for decades before arsonists struck in early 2019. The State Bonding Commission in March granted $3 million to the Town for re-development of the property. Town administrators are using the findings of the Shakespeare Theatre Task Force, which gathered residents’ input, as they form a plan to utilize the state funds for maximum advantage for the residents and local economy.

In the midst of all this activity is the Town of Stratford’s Economic & Community Development Commission that plays a vital role in spearheading initiatives that benefit both residents and the business community. Said Commission Chairman Jim Benson, “Our role in partnership with the Economic & Community Development Office is to continue to find ways to improve Stratford’s economic vitality in accordance with the Plan of Conservation and Development, which is meant to improve quality of life and spur economic vitality to the community.”

In keeping with that mission, the Commission recently initiated two zoning text amendments that both earned unanimous passage by the Zoning Commission. As of December 2021, Zoning allows for outdoor and indoor entertainment in commercial establishments, subject to compliance with the Town’s noise ordinance.

A text amendment in February established a one-year moratorium on new storage facilities in response to significant input from the community. Stratford Economic Development Director Mary Dean explained, “With very little inventory on the market, the Economic Development office has struggled to find properties for exciting businesses that will bring in significant employment. We have had interested businesses look into properties that are being considered for storage facilities. By placing a 12-month moratorium the Town can evaluate how best to handle the influx of requests for storage facilities, which provide little employment, bring little activity to the community, and are difficult to adaptively re-use.”

Mayor Hoydick, who was re-elected to a second four-year term in November, knows the importance of properly guided and balanced conservation and development, and how both impact the Town’s ability to provide best-in-class services for residents and businesses while keeping property taxes down. “I am proud of our town and our team that works hard every day to keep Stratford moving forward economically,” Hoydick said, “while we also put into place plans that preserve and add charm to our community. It truly takes a village, and it’s working.”

Content Provided by Mary Dean, Economic & Community Development Director for the Town of Stratford