Brick by brick, the dilapidated Atlantic Wire factory buildings are coming down. Their demolition will make way for the upscale Atlantic Wharf residential and retail complex along the Branford river in the heart of town.
The smaller structures are being demolished first, and the larger buildings along Meadow Street will be the final ones, according to a demolition schedule filed at Branford’s building department. Some of the initial work was done by hand, but the remainder will be done mechanically.
The first structure on the schedule was the east wall where bricks and blocks were removed by hand to expose the metal frame. Upon completion of that work, the second building would be demolished and the others would follow, with buildings five and six on Meadow Street being the last ones slated for demolition. See sketch of numbered buildings above.
The schedule said road closures would begin when with the demolition of building five.
Cherry Hill Construction of 51 Ciro Road in North Branford is doing the demolition,
The factory buildings are currently owned by Kevin O’Neill, president of Cherry Hill Glass Co. at 20 Elm St. He purchased the property in 2010 with corporate partners Jeffrey A. James and Theodore J. Cwiertniewicz through their One Church Street LLC corporation.
Goodbye Atlantic Wire
Atlantic Wire, located along the Branford River just blocks from the Town Center, manufactured industrial wire for 102 years. The company, which was founded in 1906 by William E. Hitchcock Sr., had 240 employees when it celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1956.
The factory declared bankruptcy in 2008 after being charged with federal crimes and state violations for polluting the Branford River. At that time, former Attorney General Richard Blumenthal called Atlantic Wire one of the worst polluters in the state.
Atlantic Wire officials pleaded guilty in December 2008 in U.S. District Court to criminal charges and the owners began an extensive clean-up of the site as part of a deal they made with the state.
Efforts to clean-up industrial contamination at the factory site have been ongoing for several years, and continued when O’Neill’s corporation purchased the site seven years ago.
Hello Atlantic Wharf
Developer Robert H. Smith Jr., CEO of Milford-based Metro Star Properties LLC, plans to construct an upscale apartment complex featuring 203 apartments, plus retail and restaurants on the 7.5 acre factory site. The property is located along the Branford River, within walking distance to the Town Center and the Shoreline East Train Station. Smith and his partners have an option to purchase the former factory property.
Of the 10 proposed residential buildings, six will have retail and restaurants on the first floor. The other four buildings will be strictly residential. There will be an underground parking garage with 195 spaces, which will be open to the public.
During the summer of 2014, plans for the Atlantic Wharf project were discussed during an informal presentation at a Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Commission meeting. The commission approved the request for a Planned Development District in February 2015, and approved site plans in January 2016.
The plans also call for the developers to build a new road through the complex and realign the convoluted intersection of Meadow and South Montowese streets and Pine Orchard Road.
Demolition was initially planned for last summer, but was delayed by a lawsuit filed by one of the neighbors. The case was dismissed in January 2017, and the deadline for further appeals expired in April.