Construction crews began demolition Wednesday of the former federally subsidized Thames River Apartments in New London. No tenants have lived in the 124-unit public housing complex since 2018.
"It is with mixed emotions for many people that this era in New London's history is coming to an end," said Mayor Michael Passero.
According to Passero, families started living in the complex in the 1960s. Shortly after, the property presented challenges.
"Well meaning as the government policies were, they failed our city and they failed the families that tried to build a community here," said Passero.
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The complex was plagued with mold, cockroaches and mice, among other issues.
Efrain Dominguez Jr., the city's current council president, grew up in the apartments on Crystal Avenue.
"It's bittersweet," said Dominguez. "I think all of us who grew up here - we appreciated the memories we made and eventually the time came that this had to be done."
According to the city, a court case in 2004 led to a court-stipulated agreement in 2014 that determined residents were living in sub-standard housing. Residents were given vouchers and relocated. No tenants have lived in the apartments since 2018.
Passero said the state provided $3.7 million to support the demolition and the city approved an additional $700,000.
The demolition was supposed to begin next month, but trespassing concerns after a fire broke out at the complex this month prompted the city to begin sooner.
The first phase of demolition was completed a few months ago and addressed environmental concerns. Wednesday, construction crews began to take the buildings down. The mayor said he anticipates the work to be completed by May.
The city is hoping that the property, once cleared, will have a long-term economic impact for New London.
"It's been rezoned for commercial industrial and we expect it to find a good reuse in that sector," said Passero.
"Something commercial, something industrial that we can add to the grand list to bring revenue into our city and help people affected by this," said Dominguez.