Founded in 1649, Stonington is a shoreline town in New London County, in the state’s southeastern corner. Stonington is unique in that it consists of three distinct villages: Stonington Borough, the eastern half of Mystic, and Pawcatuck.
On a recent CT Real Estate Radio show, we sat down with Danielle Chesebrough, who is running for First Selectman of Stonington. As a member of the Economic Development Commission and Stonington’s Board of Finance, as well as her work with the United Nations, she gives insights on what is currently happening in the town.
Stonington is a seaside town with old New England charm. Local restaurants attract people from all over the state, historic homes cover the landscape, and eclectic shops offer unique shopping opportunities all year long.
The beaches provide plenty of activities and endless beautiful sights. In 2019, Stonington was voted one of the “Top 10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England” by Yankee Magazine.
The town of Stonington has a great deal to offer residents and visitors, and the Economic Development Commission continually looks for areas of improvement. Since it is a shoreline town, there are concerns about rising sea levels and climate that must be addressed now. In addition, commissions are looking at areas in town where new buildings, sidewalks, and trails can be constructed to increase walkability and boost economic development.
A project called Smiler’s Wharf was in the works for the Seaport Marine property in downtown Mystic (near Red36). The plan called for a mixed-use development, which would include residential living, restaurants, marine services, and a pedestrian walk along the river. In the summer of 2019, the developers withdrew the plan.
As one of the only underutilized waterfront properties in downtown Mystic, there is enormous potential.
“But it’s not without its challenges,” Danielle told us, “It’s in a flood zone, it floods a bit, as do the streets leading up to it.”
Residents expressed their concerns about flooding, as well as parking issues, which are not new to Mystic. The Planning and Zoning Board allows everyone to have a say, but Danielle stresses that communication needs to happen productively and proactively.
For now, there is no plan for the Seaport Marine property, but the owner has the opportunity to come back with the original idea or present a new one.
It’s difficult to think about downtown Pawcatuck without thinking about Westerly, Rhode Island. The two downtowns almost merge into one. With the redevelopment of Westerly over the past several years, people often wonder about Pawcatuck’s future.
“I think Rob Simmons and Jason Vincent have done so much work behind the scenes,” Danielle told us.
This groundwork includes a zone change, which allows for more flexibility of use in downtown Pawcatuck. Mixed-used development attracts both residents and visitors, which will be beneficial to the area.
In addition, commissions are currently working on getting historic tax credits for existing buildings. Historic tax credits will allow owners to invest more upfront and have a building ready for use within a year or two. Currently, it could take up to eight years for some buildings to pass all regulations and be ready for use.
There is also discussion about plans for a development spot for the Campbell Grain property, with hopes for a pedestrian bridge to connect Pawcatuck to Westerly, giving access to the train station. Check in to the Stonington Town website for an upcoming community meeting with plans for this space.
Interested in hearing more of our conversation with Danielle? Listen to the full show here!