Groton and New London Focus on Thames River for Development Opportunities
New London and Groton are two cities (and a town) connected by a river.
The Chamber welcomed leaders from New London and the town and city of Groton to provide updates at a State of the Thames River Region on July 19, appropriately held at the riverfront Submarine Force Library and Museum. Linked rather than separated by the 4,000-foot wide river, these municipalities are looking to make the most of their waterfront locations.
With a grant from Thames River Innovation Place, New London and the City of Groton engaged Ninigret Partners to conduct the Thames River Reconnection study, analyzing redevelopment opportunities. City of Groton Mayor Keith Hedrick stated their goal coming out of the study is to create a walkable, mixed-use neighborhood on Thames Street and Bridge Street that embraces the city’s history and waterfront. “Three-quarters of the city of Groton is surrounded by water. I think we underutilize that,” said Hedrick.
To promote redevelopment and growth, the city’s focus is on creating business opportunities, streamlining regulatory processes, promoting community improvements, and forecasting transportation needs as Electric Boat continues to grow and ThayerMahan looks to develop Groton Heights School. There is a prospective buyer for the Garbo Lobster facility and Mystic Oyster Company is expanding its Noank operation into the city, leading Hedrick to solicit restauranteurs for a seafood farm-to-table concept.
On the other side of the river, New London Mayor Michael Passero focused on housing development and transportation as interest in urban lifestyle is on the rise.
New London offers a hub of transportation and city amenities and beautiful open spaces within a short bike or Uber ride. Facilitating people’s desire to rely less on cars, the city is investigating a micro transit system based on systems piloted in Norwalk and Stonington.
Housing, said Passero, is the story of New London for the past two years: “Our goal is to become more densely populated because that’s where we believe our success is.” New London is working with developers to provide the city housing experience sought by employees moving in the region while meeting the needs of a broad spectrum of economic diversity.
Groton Town Manager John Burk reported on redevelopment efforts that include economic development tools such as marketing, opportunity zones, zoning regulation reviews and redevelopment of existing buildings. Exploremoregroton.com markets the town to visitors and serves prospective businesses, outlining incentives and business assistance and providing links to departments and available real estate.
Thames River Innovation Place Executive Director Liz Pasqualini contributed to the regional conversation. Joining the nonprofit in late May, Pasqualini provided updates on the projects underway: Community Concierge, RD86 cultivator kitchen, the Naval Maritime Consortium, and roll out of funded projects in the program’s third year.