Investors buy huge piece of downtown Torrington, plan to involve community in revitalization

Torrington Downtown Partners LLC partners David Bender, left, Steven Roth and Steven Temkin announce their plans at a press conference Oct. 1 at Bender Showrooms, 29 Main Street, Torrington, Connecticut.

The Connecticut city whose citizens put up their own money up to save its local baseball team is now taking the same approach with downtown revitalization.

A large block of properties in the heart of downtown Torrington has been purchased by a local investment group that intends to invite the community at-large to participate in their revitalization, it was announced this morning.

Torrington Downtown Partners LLC has acquired 7 buildings on Main and Water streets representing 27 retail storefronts and more than 70 office and apartment units. The properties were owned by Lighthouse Real Estate Partners since 2004, but were acquired by Flushing Preferred Funding Corp. in June in a foreclosure proceeding.

The group is offering community members long frustrated at seeing empty storefronts in the downtown the opportunity to invest with $100 memberships that could entitle them to vote on future choices about the development of the properties, such as aesthetics of building renovations. The $100 will also entitle members to discounts at some of the properties’ retail tenants.

The three local businessmen behind Torrington Downtown Partners LLC — Steven Temkin, Steven Roth and David Bender — were inspired by the momentum of Torrington’s recent downtown revitalization efforts, including the popular “Main Street Marketplace” that drew thousands of people on Thursday nights over the summer, new sidewalks and street lamps that were installed along Water Street, and plans for traffic flow improvements along Main Street and East Main Street.

The $100 membership builds upon the concept of another Torrington innovation — the Torrington Titans collegiate league baseball team that was purchased this year through a similar membership drive and then turned to members to vote on the name of the team, its uniforms who would coach it and other decisions.

“You can get a little piece of downtown Torrington for $100,” Temkin said. “People still feel that civic pride in Torrington. You’re doing this for the joy of it, the satisfaction of it. It’s hard to put a price tag on that.”

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About mattderienzo

Matt DeRienzo has worked for more than 20 years as a reporter, editor, publisher and corporate editorial director and has been recognized nationally for leading newsroom innovation. He teaches journalism at Quinnipiac University, writes a monthly column for Editor & Publisher magazine, and serves as interim executive director of LION Publishers, a national network of local independent online news site publishers. Previously, he served as group editor of Digital First Media's publications in Connecticut, including the New Haven Register, Middletown Press, Register Citizen and Connecticut Magazine, and Northeast regional editor for Digital First Media. He also served as publisher of The Register Citizen, Middletown Press and a group of weeklies in Northwest Connecticut, and before that was corporate director of news for small dailies and non-daily publications for the former Journal Register Company. In early 2011, The Register Citizen was named one of Editor & Publisher magazine's "10 Newspapers That Do It Right," and DeRienzo was named to its annual "25 Under 35" list of leaders in the newspaper industry. In the fall of 2011, The Register Citizen was awarded the Associated Press Managing Editors Innovator of the Year Award in recognition of The Register Citizen Newsroom Cafe, an "open newsroom" launched in Torrington, Connecticut, in December 2010. He led a team of more than 100 journalists in covering the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in late 2012 and 2013, and has been honored for his editorial writing and leadership of public service and investigative reporting. In 2014, his efforts at the New Haven Register were recognized with the APME's and ASNE's Robert C. McGruder Award for Leadership in Newsroom Diversity. DeRienzo is a former longtime board member of the United Way of Northwest Connecticut, and served as co-chairman of the United Way's annual fundraising campaign in 2009 and again in 2011. In 2011, he received the organization's Lifetime Achievement Award.
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