WEST HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Beach season is here, and did you know that West Haven has the longest public beach in the state? There are miles of great sand, so why is so much of West Haven’s waterfront wasted?

An entire section of the waterfront is supposed to be an outlet mall by now. It seemed like a done deal in a report from 8 years ago.

“It now appears almost certain to happen,” said Mark Davis in 2014.

But it’s all still either rubble or boarded-up houses. Developers say there’s nothing wrong with West Haven.

“It has strong fundamentals, granted it has struggled over the last decade,” said Hugh Scott, Sim Lev Holdings.

The strong fundamentals led Sim Lev Holdings to buy the old Debonair Beach Motel last year, but the development company is still figuring out what to do with it.

“I think it will be attractive for people who want to live there or people who want to stay there, people who may want to visit from a dining restaurant standpoint,” Scott said.

They are talking about the Amico group, which bought the nearby land that used to be Chick’s Drive-In. The restaurant was an institution for 65 years until Chick Celantano died in 2015. Its new owners are also figuring out what will work best.

Nearby is an old bait and tackle shop that’s been vacant for years. The space that used to be a restaurant called the Captain’s Galley was torn down in 2017 and is now just an empty lot. The land is owned by the Gagliardi family, which runs Jimmie’s, a successful restaurant on the West Haven beach.

“My great grandfather started Jimmie’s in 1925,” said Stephen Gagliardi.

That was back when West Haven’s waterfront was an amusement park. Five generations of Gagliardi’s have fed people on this beach. They once thought about downsizing to the old Captain’s Galley spot.

“When this was all done, we thought about moving over there and having something a little bit smaller. You know, something a little bit easier to run,” Gagliardi said.

Right now, they plan to stay put. Meanwhile, right next door, the Savin Rock Conference Center is set to be torn down. After 20 years in Woodbridge, The New England Brewing Company has outgrown its space and plans to build a new facility where the conference center is.

“Production space will be about 30,000 to 35,000 square feet for the production of beer and then we’ll have a taproom space of about 6,000 to 7,000 square feet,” said Marty Juliano, New England Brewing Co.

They still have to work out details with the city, but plan to start construction later this year. They know all about the issues with some other properties.

“Because one of the properties we did talk about in West Haven was the Chick’s property,” Juliano said.

They passed on that because of uncertain plans to elevate Beach Street. Phase one is done. They raised the section by the water treatment plant several feet to protect it from flooding. State lawmakers secured more than $5 million for the project.

Just up that street, the proposed outlet mall known as The Havens is still deserted. A year ago, the state granted it a special taxation district. Then, developers stopped returning phone calls, but state and city leaders do have a special meeting with the Simon Property Group scheduled for this Friday.

According to Mayor Nancy Rossi, “We expect this to be a productive meeting. We expect to know a timetable or direction for the project at the conclusion of that meeting, and we will report the status of the proposed development project at this time.”

For properties along Beach Street, the concern continues to be the street itself. The city says the project to raise it two to five feet could begin by the end of the year. That’s a double-edged sword because the with the road this high, properties will be protected, but property owners will have to spend unknown amounts of money raising their properties to match the road.