Contractor nixes plan for site of Seaview Avenue blaze
BRIDGEPORT — A Stamford developer has withdrawn a widely panned proposal to establish a contractor’s yard on Seaview Avenue on property devastated nearly five years ago by a warehouse fire.
“Yes!” said a happy Nick Roussas, upon learning Monday that JCM Services Inc. was no longer pursuing the project’s permits and was dropped from next Monday’s Planning and Zoning Commission agenda.
Roussas is owner of Frankie’s Diner and head of the Mill Hill Neighborhood Revitalization Zone — one of a handful of NRZs around Bridgeport that weigh in on development issues.
The land JCM sought to purchase for outside storage of construction materials and equipment, 2115 Seaview Avenue, is within the Mill Hill NRZ’s territory, but also close to the East Side and East End NRZs. Residents and community leaders from all three areas had condemned JCM’s application, which was submitted in March.
“Wholeheartedly we were all against it,” Roussas said. “That’s a residential area. School kids go by every day from Harding (High School). It brings a lot of dust and debris. Back in the day it (the site) might have been industrial, but there’s no reason to put another type of business like that there.”
Keith Williams, head of the East End NRZ, agreed.
“Bring something positive to the neighborhood,” Williams said Monday. “Everybody wants to bring all that hazardous waste (and) construction material.”
Neither JCM nor the firm’s attorney, Christopher Bristol of Greenwich, could be reached Monday for comment, so it was not clear whether the contractor has totally abandoned the plan or might return with a revised proposal.
“All things considered, we’ll be improving (the lot),” Bristol told the East End NRZ at the time.
The Seaview avenue property is just a couple blocks from Boston Avenue/Route 1. The neighborhood is a mix of industrial properties and multifamily homes, just down hill from Bridgeport Hospital.
For years, unbeknown to many neighbors and city officials, the old warehouse that occupied 2115 Seaview Ave. was leased by a Norwalk-based company to store chemicals for manufacturing perfume.
The structure was destroyed in September 2014 by a five-alarm fire that came dangerously close to nearby residences, melting the siding off of some of the houses on the opposite side of Seaview.
The lot has since been cleaned up of the debris. Community leaders want it redeveloped — just not the way JCM had in mind.
City Councilwoman Eneida Martinez, who represents the neighborhood, said the Bridgeport Office of Planning and Economic Development also objected to the contractor’s yard, which would have further hurt JCM’s chances Monday to receive the blessing of zoning commission.
“(Deputy OPED Director) Bill Coleman said they were going to stand behind us,” Martinez recalled. “If we didn’t want it, then they’ll support that.”
OPED declined to comment.
Roussas would like the NRZs and city officials to begin figuring out what he would consider a more positive vision for the fire site.
“We should all get together and see what we could get in there that would not be invasive to the neighborhood,” Roussas said. “We have to put our heads together and find something that’s going to be a perfect fit.”