New Canaan is “very interested” in acquiring an office building on the corner of Grove and Elm Streets, the town’s highest elected official said Thursday, and installing the Police Department and Board of Education there within a few years.
Known to many as the ‘Unimin Building’ after the company that owns and occupies it—a company that is now is part of an Ohio-based business called ‘Covia’—the structure has been looked at by an architect “and it is very feasible to move both the Police Department and Board of Education” in, according to First Selectman Kevin Moynihan.
The town likely would purchase the 28,000-square-foot building at 258 Elm St. and lease it back to Covia while the company relocates its employees over a period of up to three years, Moynihan said.
Those three years “will give us plenty of time to plan and probably begin some of the construction for the police department in the garage while they are in the building,” he said, referring to installation of jail cells.
“They are definitely moving and the town is very interested in acquiring the building and we have to first of all complete the process of the due diligence of whether it works,” Moynihan said in response to a question from NewCanaanite.com during a media briefing in his office that also included representatives from New Canaan News and Patch.com.
It would cost New Canaan about $2 million to “retrofit” the building for its new municipal uses, Moynihan said. That work largely involves installing a second elevator, he said.
It isn’t clear what New Canaan would pay for the building in question. It last was appraised at about $8.2 million, tax records show. Unimin first put put its building on the market in October 2016. The industrial mineral producer has said it employs 100 to 110 people there.
The new plan would negate the need to renovate the 1926-built Police Department while its officers and command staff operate out of their South Avenue headquarters—a costly and logistically difficult process, Moynihan said—and also would mean that the Board of Education could move into superior office space rather than a renovated upper floor at NCPD (as the first selectman has suggested in the past).
“It’s a very modern building, totally up-to-date,” Moynihan said of the Covia building, which overlooks the Lumberyard Lot.
“The space for the Board of Education is beautiful,” he said. “It’s better than what they have.”
Moynihan said town officials will meet with the district soon to discuss the matter.
Meanwhile, the Board of Ed in March formed its own committee that’s studying options for a future headquarters for the New Canaan Public Schools administration. At its June 27meeting, the BOE Headquarters Committee finalized a set of districts’ offices to visit and is poised for site visits, according to meeting minutes.
Moynihan had said in May that he was “intrigued” by the prospect of purchasing the Unimin building. He said Thursday that the reason he could speak on the matter now is that the employees of Covia have been notified of the change.