City plans to buy four downtown lots to create more parking

The State Bond Commission at its next meeting will vote on nearly $5 million to support the first phase of a downtown Milford parking plan, which would allow the city to buy the building where Corner Convenience is located, plus three other properties, for parking.

The project entails the City of Milford purchasing approximately 2.2 acres of property to create additional parking in the city’s downtown area to alleviate parking shortages for the rail station, courthouse and local businesses, according to a state press release.

The additional parking area will be built next to the Milford train station which serves the New Haven Line and is used by about 5,000 riders daily.

“Over the last four years, we have worked with municipal partners to advance transit-oriented development projects in order to lay the foundation for long-term sustainable economic growth in towns across the state and ensure these are livable, walkable communities for employees and employers alike,” said Governor Dannel Malloy. “We are investing in this important project because demand for parking in vibrant downtown Milford far outweighs the supply.”

Mayor Ben Blake said the purchase will include properties at 0 River Street, 44-64 River Street, 0 Railroad Avenue and 145 High Street.

The biggest parcel is the one that houses Corner Convenience and other shops, such as Scratch Baking.

The mayor said the city will work with businesses currently in those buildings “to be good neighbors.”

The parcels in question run parallel to the train station, and Blake said the idea is to build a parking structure on the parcels beyond the Corner Convenience building within the next several years.

A parking garage would be included in the third phase of the project, and would create more than 300 additional parking spaces downtown.

For now, the state funds will pay to buy the property. When the purchase is complete, there will be some additional parking nearly immediately on lots that are now just overgrown with brush, the mayor said.

The mayor said the additional parking will serve commuters, shoppers, city workers and residents who just want to go downtown.

“The fact that Milford’s popular train station, harbor boat ramp, shops and restaurants, green, courthouse and other government and recreational amenities are situated in such close proximity to one another means that those wishing to visit our fantastic downtown are competing for limited parking,” Blake said. “With this funding, we will be able to acquire new parking sites that will serve residents and visitors while supporting smart regional growth. I am grateful for the governor’s strategic investment in our community.”

The second phase of the project is expected to include creation of surface parking and landscaping with the addition of several hubs for bikes, electric vehicles and ride-share vehicles.

The third phase will include construction of a “low-profile parking structure, coupled with planned mixed-use development.

The mayor said the second phase is expected to cost about $2.5 million, which the city is “committed to funding.” He said the city will finance the remainder of the project through other sources, including local and private funds.

“This is great news for the city,” Blake said, adding that he envisions a new anchor store downtown as part of the final project.

The parking garage probably won’t be built for several years. Blake said it will likely be a low-profile two-story structure that fits with the New England character.

“This is really an opportunity because the area could be a hub of good economic development,” the mayor said.

Milford’s representatives in Hartford weighed in with positive comments about the project.

“This investment from the state will immediately address parking needs downtown, improving access and convenience for local residents,” Maroney said. “This project will bring jobs and businesses to the heart of Milford and make our city center an even more wonderful place to visit.”

In April, Governor Malloy announced the creation of a $15 million Transit Oriented Development Pre-Development and Acquisition Fund to provide financing that will encourage developers to carry out transit oriented development in communities with station stops along the CTFastrak and New Haven-Hartford-Springfield (NHHS) transit corridors.