Revitalizing Southeastern Communities
A Brownfields Toolkit
Waterbury, CT is Adding Polish to the Brass City
The closing of the historic brass mill industrial complex in Waterbury, Connecticut in 1986 not only
marked the end of an era for the brass capital of the world, but also left behind a blighted,
economically depressed brownfield that was hurting the City's economy. However, the site has been
transformed into the Brass Mill Center, a 1.2 million square foot regional shopping mall that has helped
spur the revitalization of Waterbury.
For nearly 200 years, the brass mill site along the Mad River was one of the largest industrial facilities in
the Northeast and home to three major brass factories, including the Scovill Brass Works, the largest
brass manufacturer in the United States. This concentration of brass manufacturers earned Waterbury
the moniker of "Brass Capital of the World" and the "Brass City." However, as competition increased
following World War II, Waterbury's brass mills began to decline and by the mid-1980s the last of the
big three, Century Brass, closed its doors.
When the brass mills closed, an environmental assessment of the 90 acres of properties they left
behind revealed numerous contaminants, including petroleum, PCBs, solvents, and heavy metals and
buildings in need of demolition. After several unsuccessful attempts at industrial reuse, the City of
Waterbury developed a comprehensive plan for cleaning up the site and preparing it for
redevelopment, in partnership with the Naugatuck Valley Development Corporation, Brass Center
Limited, Connecticut's departments of Economic and Community Development and Environmental
Protection, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
As cleanup of the site moved forward, the site's location along a major interstate and the eastern
periphery of the City's central business district attracted the attention of a major national shopping
center developer (the Homart Development Company, now known as Gen