Groton — When Jeffrey Respler, developer of Respler Homes, first saw the Mystic Education Center property, he intended to develop apartments in the Mystic Oral School building.
But when he went into the building, constructed in different stages and with small classrooms, along with “nooks and crannies” and hallways, he realized it was not laid out for a simple apartment conversion.
After thinking it over, he came up with the idea to instead create a “New England village” and style the Oral School building as a “Main Street USA,” with shops on the first floor and offices upstairs, and then build apartment units on the site. The 40,000-square-foot Pratt Building could be renovated with tax increment financing money and turned over to the town for recreational and community use by Groton residents.
Respler Homes was selected in 2019 as the preferred developer for the state-owned site that the town and state jointly marketed and collaborated on a request for proposals process.
Respler outlined his conceptual vision for the property to The Day’s Editorial Board on Thursday. He stressed that his proposal is conceptual but he is open to having discussions with the town about the best way to do the project, and he expects the proposal, still in the early stages, to evolve.
The Editorial Board is slated to meet with people critical of the project at a later date.
Respler said he designed the community to create a vibrant, “live, work and play” environment…