Norwalk’s Manresa Island sold for redevelopment
The path forward for Manresa Island in Norwalk has been long discussed. The 134-acre site includes Norwalk Harbor Generating Station, which was shut down in 2013 after operating for six decades. Now NRG Energy has sold the property to Argent Ventures, a New York City-based real estate company. The terms of the sale weren’t publicly released.
“I think it's a great step forward for Norwalk. This has been pending for many years since they decommissioned the plant. And now we can really look to what's going to be best for that area,” said Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling.
What that is has always been a debate, long before the island was ever home to power plant. Back in 1937, people petitioned the city to make Manresa a park with the group taking out an ad in the Norwalk Hour newspaper. But in 1953, city officials approved a plan from Connecticut Light and Power to develop the Manresa property into a coal-fired power plant, a decision that even made the New York Times. Residents tried to fight it but weren’t successful. CL&P commissioned the plant in 1960, and it burned coal until 1972 when it was converted to oil. NRG purchased the plant in 1999.
Over the past decade, the plant has sat inactive, despite community members advocating for change there.
“I'd like to thank Rep. Himes, Sen. Duff. We all worked together to work with NRG to encourage them to sell the property, to encourage them to clean it up, and the residents in that area were very instrumental on staying on top of this and making sure it was moving forward,” Rilling said.
No plans have been submitted yet, but a statement from Argent Ventures' Vice President Clay McPhail said, "We look forward to working with the city and neighboring community groups on a comprehensive vision for the site's reuse as a residential development with a large proportion of the site preserved as open space. We are excited about the opportunity to create a development that can preserve Manresa's natural beauty and provide increased opportunities for waterfront access and storm resiliency."
McPhail told News 12 discussions with the public will happen in the coming months, but a timeline for work is up in the air.
“A lot depends on how long CTDOT will be using a portion of the site and the barge slip for the Walk Bridge reconstruction project. Once we have some additional discussions with CTDOT we will likely have a better sense of the overall timeline for demolition. The bulk of the demolition work will likely need to wait until CTDOT is off the site,” McPhail said in an email to News 12.
The Manresa Neighborhood Coalition, which has fought using the island for the Walk Bridge project, released the following statement about the sale:
“We generally support the low-density housing for which this property is currently zoned for and assume any building that would occur on this property wouldn’t need any special permits by the City of Norwalk. We would hope that there would be a concerted effort to create an open space that would benefit our city and the myriad of wildlife that currently inhabit the peninsula. We welcome our new neighbors and look forward to introducing ourselves.”