Port officials have wanted to move forward with redeveloping the waterfront property for decades but had to wait until environmental cleanup of an old industrial site was completed and the Pioneer Street railroad overpass was in place. After the overpass opened in September 2021, the port began studying how the property could be developed and what kind of amenities residents wanted.
Mueller said feedback from the community and the city was taken into consideration in developing the business plan. The port’s priorities, market interest and what the land is capable of supporting were also included. The 74-page plan includes port objectives, allowed/possible uses, community survey results, a market analysis and a development strategy.
Although port officials have been discussing how to redevelop the property for years, Mueller said the business plan provides the specific details needed to move forward. With that detail, he said they can see what will and what won’t be a good fit for the property.
“Many years back we left open the idea that there could be office space. In this last year of work, one of the things that really came out is that the market right now for leasable office space is very poor. It would not make sense to build leasable office buildings,” Mueller said.
Mueller said the business plan did identify a need for “craft industrial” spaces.
“These are smaller industrial spaces where maybe they’re making fishing rods, or there’s a coffee roaster or brewing beer,” Mueller said. “They don’t take up a lot of square feet … but they add a lot to the local business environment.”
The next steps will come in two phases, Mueller said. This winter, the port will release a request for qualifications, RFQ, to assess and winnow qualified development teams. Once the that process is complete, the port will issue a request for proposals and then select the best proposal for development of the waterfront.
One thing residents wanted to see added to the waterfront was a new park. Mueller said work on a new park is already underway. Currently, the port and the city are working together to assess and select a team to plan the park.
While there are no plans to expand the boat ramp on Mill Street, Mueller said the port will be adding an overflow parking lot to help ease traffic congestion in the area during the busy summer months.
To read the full business plan, go to https://portridgefield.org/ridgefield-waterfront.