A five-story, 156,000 square foot factory building at 83 Wooster Street will be getting a new owner-and possibly, a new use.
A couple of weeks ago Alderman Aaron Greenberg said that he envisioned possibilities ranging from housing or a school, to a museum.
Regarding the latter, the building-constructed in 1898-might already be one. It certainly has is history-owners and sellers C. Cowles and Co. have been operating there for 160 years.
“They started out making lanterns for horse-drawn carriages,” says James Panczykowski, the Executive Vice President for Binswanger-the real estate firm representing C. Cowles and Co. “So we’re really going back in time.”
Today? They’ve stuck with the travel niche and evolved it with the times-among C. Cowles and Co.’s products are car parts.
Panczykowski is standing in the parking lot of the 2.84 acre property-which includes the factory structure and a building on an adjoining parcel-before a group of about 20 New Haven residents waiting to take the Saturday morning tour of the grounds.
The tour-arranged by Greenberg-will allow residents to get an early look at the factory that will be bid on through a 75-day structured sale process. The call for offers will last until June 15, after which proposals will be reviewed and negotiations will begin, Panczykowski said.
Right now, the property is valued at $1.7 million. That translates to $72,636 for the city’s Grand List. For the sale, however, C. Cowles and Co. has not set a specific price tag yet.
While a number of conceptual ideas have been pitched, the driving factors behind which direction they pursue will depend on a combination of “feasibility and fit”, Panczykowski said.
“We knew there would be a lot of interest in the site, and we knew the right developer had to be chosen,” he said. “If you’re lucky, you get two shots at it, but we only wanted one.”
The factory saw expansion projects in 1914, 1966, and in 1993. Today, it has three loading docks at its north end, as well as 100 outdoor parking spaces and potential for the addition of indoor parking, according to a memorandum sent out to prospective buyers a couple of weeks before the tour.
As far as the other structure goes, there are no plans to separate it from the sale of the factory building, Panczkowski said.
“He’s saying, ‘here’s what I have-what can you do with it?'” Panczkowski said. “‘If we like it, we’ll give you a shot’.”
Here’s some of what residents got a look at Saturday: