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Newtown to apply for historic district designation for Fairfield Hills

The Newtown Board of Selectmen has signed off on applying for final historic district designation for the Fairfield Hills Campus by the State Historic Preservation Office.  The Legislative Council previously voted favorably for this plan, which could lead to historic tax credits.  SHPO will determine the boundaries of what is to be included in the historic designation. 

Winn Development senior project director Matthew Robayna says if a building is considered a threat to health and human safety and needs to come down, SHPO would negotiate with the town and would not outright prevent the building from being demolished. 

Officials believe one of the buildings are in imminent danger of collapsing in the next 10 years. 

The next step is to nominate the area for the national register.  The state review board would examine the nomination and then send it to the National Parks Service.  That entire process could take up to a year.  Once approved, the plan to develop two buildings can move forward.  The development plan relies on historic credits and is not viable without the credits.   The former state psychiatric hospital's 185-acre campus includes World War II-era buildings.  

Newtown First Selectman Dan Rosenthal says once they submit the application, it's possible they could negotiate a smaller area for historic preservation.  If the designation is approved, and tax credits are available to Winn, the developer would negotiate a lease agreement with Newtown and submit a site plan to the town’s Planning and Zoning Department for approval.

Kent House, a 200,000-square-foot structure built in 1940, across from Newtown’s municipal building, and Shelton House, a 90,000-square-foot structure built in 1933 near the entrance to the Fairfield Hills campus could be turned into housing and commercial space.