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Newington Mayor Looks Forward To Shopping Center's Expected Sale


February 07, 2013
NEWINGTON - — The long derelict Northwood Plaza shopping center will be auctioned off on March 21, setting the stage for its redevelopment, Mayor Stephen Wood said Thursday.
Woods made the announcement during the Newington Chamber of Commerce's annual State of the Town event at Newington High School.
"I'm happy to say that we won't be looking at this again," Woods said as a picture of the dilapidated shopping center flashed on a screen, prompting applause from the audience. "There's so much potential there."
The 70,000 square-foot shopping center was fully rented in the mid-2000s, but lost tenants and deteriorated after the 2008 recession. Adding to the plaza's woes was the owner's death and an extended probate process, leaving the property in limbo.
The news on Northwood Plaza added to Woods' message that the town is in good shape and improving.
"I'm very optimistic," Woods said. "I think we've positioned ourselves in a really good place."
The town has made up for factory losses by attracting new and large retail businesses to the Berlin Turnpike, Woods said. Berlin Turnpike retailers dominate the town's top 10 taxpayers list, a big change from a decade ago when manufacturers predominated, he said.
In addition to rehabilitating Northwood Plaza, a top town priority is redeveloping the long shuttered National Welding property on Cedar Street, Woods said. The approximately four-acre parcel's proximity to CTfasktrak, also known as the busway, presents a unique opportunity to return the property to productive use, he said.
As a first stage, the town is seeking a state grant to raze the property's buildings and remediate contamination, Woods said.
"We are optimistic that it (the grant) is going to happen," Woods said. "We're getting good feedback form everyone we talk to."
The busway also presents opportunities for economic development, especially around Newington Junction, one of two stops in town, Woods told the audience.
"I know that it's controversial, but having said that, it's here and it's going to stay here," Woods said. "I think it's important for the (town) council to embrace it and make it work for the town."
After doing a "horrible" job so far, the state Department of Transportation is working on a new and better marketing plan, Woods said.
Woods also discussed the proposal to build 48 luxury homes on Cedar Mountain, a plan that attracted strong opposition from some residents. Woods noted that developer Toll Brothers, which is seeking a wetlands permit from the Conservation Commission, would not disturb any wetlands and would preserve 46 acres of open space.
"It protects the ridge," Woods said of Toll Brothers' proposal. "It will not affect the view. You won't know the development is there."
Other top town council priorities include rebuilding town hall and the community center, renovating the public works garage, constructing a new bus garage and securing funding for school rehabilitation projects, Woods said

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