Scovil Hoe Factory in Haddam slated for mixed-use development

HADDAM — A developer has proposed repurposing a late 19th-century manufacturing site on Candlewood Hill Road as a retail destination that would boost the city’s revitalization effort, an official said.

Farmington-based Parker Benjamin has submitted an application to the Planning and Zoning Commission for a mixed-use development at the former Scovil Hoe complex and former State Department of Transportation garage at 11 Candlewood Hill Road . The application proposes to install a mix of shops, galleries, business offices, restaurants and brasserie.

First manager Robert McGarry said he thought the project would be a “big boost” for City, particularly for center Higganum, who “have taken a few hits over the years”, including the one of his main employers, Rossi Lumber, leaving the centre. many years ago.

The city will use a state grant of $1.8 million to clean up the site. That work is expected to begin in the spring, said city planner Bill Warner.

Parker Benjamin will be responsible for cleaning the two existing masonry buildings on the property and preparing them for commercial use. The company states in the application that it expects these commercial spaces to be occupied within approximately one to two years.

Once the buildings are fully leased, Parker Benjamin estimates that the commercial tenant population will create 75 jobs, depending on demand.

The buildings, located directly on the Candlewood Hill Brook, will be “an excellent addition to the revitalization of the Higganum Center,” Shannon Healy, the company’s project manager, said in a statement. “It will attract additional tourists and residents to southern New England, provide entertainment and activities for the community, and support local businesses and employment.”

The four-acre property was recently used by the DOT, which purchased the land in 1942 and turned it into a garage three years later. The buildings have been vacant since the agency moved its operations to a new facility in Tylerville two years ago, McGarry said.

Haddam spent $326,000 of American Rescue Plan Act funds to purchase the property from the state, city officials said. The transfer will become official once cleared by the State Properties Review Board.

Before becoming a garage, the site served as the fourth mill complex for the D. & H. Scovil Co., founded by brothers Daniel and Hezekiah Scovil in 1844. The two existing buildings of the Mill No. 4 complex on Candlewood Hill Road were built in 1866 and 1887, respectively.

As the manufacturer of a self-sharpening “planter hoe”, the business was one of Higganum’s most successful industries in the 19th century, supplying markets in the southern United States and South America, according to the Haddam Historical Society.

The Scovil factory was sold in 1942 and the State transformed it into a garage in 1945.

By offering to repurpose old buildings instead of demolishing them, the company will preserve their architectural charm and cultural significance. If granted a special permit at Thursday’s meeting, Parker Benjamin will nominate the property for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, the application says.

The property’s transformation into a commercial hotspot is also expected to amplify the city’s planned revitalization of the Higganum Center.

In August, the city announced it would use $760,000 in newly issued government bonds to fund an outdoor recreation area at the former Haddam Elementary School and park development at Higganum Cove. The school will be the site of a future community center.

“Despite the pandemic and everything, we were able to move forward pretty quickly to get things done there,” McGarry said.

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About Margaret L. Portillo

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