The city of Waterbury is planning a massive revitalization project for the area of Gaffney Place and Central Avenue, and officials are hoping to see big changes in a year's time.
"We're excited here," said Mayor Neil O'Leary. "This is ground zero for downtown revitalization here in Waterbury. This is the most historic community we have in the city, and this is a great place to start."
O'Leary and Webster Bank CEO Jim Smith visited the neighborhood today to discuss plans to repair and rehabilitate the area. The city has gathered $3.8 million from private and public funding.
The goal is to turn five run-down homes into 10 housing units for sale and rent. Plans also call for streetscaping.
Project leaders are confident their improvements will become contagious.
"As this develops, I think you will find the residents take more pride in the neighborhood and improving their properties," said Smith. "And that will be a very obvious sign for how successful we are."
Carlos Mauroza lives in one of the five buildings in the Hillside neighborhood that will be receiving a major facelift.
"I think it's good for the community. All these buildings are run down," said Mauroza. "They have mold growing around here. It's just disgusting."
For the Webster Bank CEO, the motivation is very personal. It's where he has spent most of his life.
"My dad was born in the building five up this street on Central Avenue in 1911," said Smith. "Today is his birthday, which is why it's so great to be making this announcement today."
Construction on the homes is scheduled to begin in August and shoulud be completed by next year.
There's no end in sight. Next, community leaders will look to fix other blighted properties in the neighborhood.
Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com