What to do with an old house

Milford officials aren’t sure what will be done with a city-owned house and land near Lisman Landing, which the city bought in 2015, and Mayor Ben Blake said he welcomes suggestions.

It’s an interesting piece of property at 60 Helwig Street: A small white house built in 1935 seems out of place amidst downtown businesses, a towering condominium complex, and across the street from the city marina and boats battened down for the winter at Milford Boat Works.

The mayor said the house has settled unevenly over the years, so inside the floors are slightly uneven, tilted, creating a tiny feeling of seasickness for people walking inside.

The 1,224-square-foot single family home has six rooms, including two bedrooms and one bathroom. The city used money from the state’s Local Capital Improvement Program (LOCIP) and other funds to buy the property for $253,000 Dec. 4, 2015 from the Barrien family, who own Milford Boat Works. The property is appraised at $267,000 according to the city assessor’s website, and Zillow says the “zestimate” for the house is $502,000.

Blake said the city got a good deal on the property from the Barrien family, whom the city approached in 2015 after learning the property would be up for sale. The city was interested because the parcel is strategically located near the city marina and officials thought the property might come in handy for parking one day. The transaction took place around the time the city was acquiring property on High Street to create parking near the train station.

The house sits on .12 acres, and while that seems small, the mayor said the triangular shaped lot could possibly be turned into 20 parking spaces.

“We saw it as a strategic location, and it’s a cool building, too,” the mayor said.

It’s not a given that the house will be knocked down to create parking: That is just one idea, the mayor said.

Ideally, city officials would like to see something there that helps the downtown economy, maybe something like a kayak or canoe launch, which would work well with the marina, Blake said.

Blake said all ideas are welcome.

Julie Nash, Milford’s Economic and Community Development director, said she’s been rolling ideas around in her head. But she wants to discuss the site first with Milford’s transit oriented development (TOC) consultants after a market/economic impact analysis is done, to see if there is a “need” the site can fill.

Milford is in the process of creating a TOC in the downtown area. Transit oriented developments are “sweeping the nation,” according to a transit oriented development website.

“Also known as TOD, it’s the creation of compact, walkable, mixed-use communities centered around high quality train systems. This makes it possible to live a lower-stress life without complete dependence on a car for mobility and survival,” the site states.

People with ideas for a possible use for 60 Helwig Street can email Nash — jnash@ci.milford.ct.us.