WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — A demolition project kicked off at the Freight Street Corridor in Waterbury on Thursday.

The City of Waterbury has begun tearing down the site of a former factory located at 170 Freight Street.  

Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary said city leaders want to transform the Freight Street Corridor from rubble to renewal.  

“If we don’t do it who will? And will it sit here for another 30 or 40- or 50 years empty?” O’Leary said.

The 140,000-square-foot industrial space was a major part of brass manufacturing industry in Waterbury, which drove the local economy.  

“People came from all over the world during the mid-to-late 1800s, the early 1900s, to this city to live here for a simple reason,” O’Leary said. “There were [tens of thousands of] jobs.”  

But when brass got the boot, the site became blighted and neglected. 

The site is considered a Brownfield property, a site where redevelopment can be complicated by the presence of potentially hazardous substances.  

Tommy Hyde, interim director of the Waterbury Development Corporation, says remediation is underway to make way for 20 acres of new development. 

“There haven’t been any significant issues to date, but the reality is it’s a big and complicated project,” Hyde said.  

The project is receiving state and federal funding.     

Leaders say demolition on the final piece of the parcel costs about $3.5 million dollars. The price tag for the demolition of 13 buildings on the site costs more than $7.5 million dollars.  

The Brass City has hope for the future of the site.  

“The goal of the site is to really be an extension of the downtown,” Hyde said. “So, something like mixed-use, transit-oriented development where we have apartments, retail, some office space, etcetera.”  

Hyde says they hope to partner with a developer for cleanup by late 2024.