CT Construction Digest September 11, 2020
Ruth Epstein GOSHEN — State Department of Transportation Deputy Commissioner Garrett Eucalitto gave members of the Northwest Hills Council of Governments an overview of how the 3,000-person agency is operating during COVID-19.
Most employees are working in person because their jobs can’t be done from home, he said during a Zoom session Thursday.
As expected, traffic is down since the start of the pandemic because of the decrease in workday commuting, but cases of speeding and fatal accidents are on a record pace for the year, Eucalitto said.
One benefit of less traffic is DOT has been able to accomplish more work on state roads, he said. Connecticut was the first state to take advantage of federal waivers that were issued.
“Our staff is ready to respond to tropical storms to help clear roads,” he said.
There also are plans to move all DOT public informational meetings to a virtual platform.
Eucalitto also touched on public transportation, saying the Federal Transit Administration has provided $488 million to the state for public operations. Bus transportation statewide was running at 75% during the height of the pandemic, he said. However, rail service was significantly pared back due to the drop in work commuting to New York City. Eucalitto said DOT continually stresses the importance of all riders wearing face masks when taking public transportation.
During the comment period, Hartland First Selectman Magi Winslow said there are four wells in her town that have been destroyed because of the use of straight salt on roads during the winter season. She said cars, trucks and the town’s infrastructure are being ruined.
“The state doesn’t talk about that much,” said Winslow, who noted she is getting a lot of calls from people with well problems.
Eucalitto said DOT’s maintenance staff had planned to do some presentations on that issue, but then COVID-19 struck. Eucalitto’s associate, Kimberly Lesay, said there are controls on trucks to regulate salt use. She said anyone with concerns about specific sites should contact her.
Barkhamsted First Selectman Donald S. Stein said he wonders about the preparation of state roads before snowstorms.
“I see those pre-treated white lines days ahead and sometimes the storm doesn’t even come,” Stein said. “Why is it put down so early when it may not be needed?”
Eucalitto said the crews try their best to get out ahead of storms, but he’d be willing to talk with those who have concerns.
Joe Cooper A Hartford apartment developer is cutting the ribbon Wednesday on the second completed phase of a new $32-million apartment complex on Silas Deane Highway in Wethersfield.
Lexington Property Management LLC, an arm of area developer Martin J. Kenny’s Lexington Partners LLC, this summer debuted a five-story, 111-unit apartment building at 1178 Silas Deane Highway as part of the larger mixed-use development known as The Borden.
Construction on The Borden started in 2018. The development is named after the former dairy farm site that previously occupied the property for many years.
A grand opening ceremony to commemorate the development's completion was scheduled Wednesday at noon. Kenny is expected to be joined by Mayor Michael Rell and other town and economic development officials.
Wednesday's unveiling comes less than a year after the first residents moved into the community's first residential building at 1160 Silas Deane, which has 39 studio and one bedroom units that are all nearly leased, Kenny said Wednesday. An 11,000-square-foot retail space there currently houses Berkshire Hathaway real estate and Dolan Dental Group.
Kenny, who was a Wethersfield resident for about three decades, said that 86 of the 111 studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom units have been leased at 1178 Silas Deane since its initial opening in June. A restaurant to be named later will be occupying most of the 8,000-square-foot retail space there, he said.
Keller Williams Realty, he said, has also signed a lease for 3,600 square feet of commercial space at 1178 Silas Deane. Construction on the commercial unit will begin in the next week or so, and the real estate franchise is expected to begin occupying the space in early 2021, Kenny said.
Kenny said he was hoping to debut the second phase of The Borden in April. However, the project was delayed several months because COVID-19 safety restrictions limit the number of construction workers on-site.
“Putting in all the finishes you can only have so many people in the apartment at the same time,” he said.All of the 150 apartments are market rate, and the entire development is home to amenities including rooftop and ground-level lounge spaces, a community room, pet spa, dog park, fitness center and electric car chargers. There are nearly 200 surface parking spaces on site for residents.
Units are also equipped with an air purifier and filtration unit meant to clean air and remove viruses such as COVID-19, officials say.
According to a leasing map, apartments ranging in size from 481 square feet to 1,608 square feet are renting between $1,100 a month up to $2,995.
In 2017, Wethersfield officials helped push the project forward granting Lexington Partners a $1.4-million tax abatement to redevelop the then vacant 6-acre property.
Kenny said the state also provided $5 million in funding for the project. Those funds were managed by the quasi-public Capital Region Development Authority due to its experience in Hartford with market rate and multifamily housing developments, he added.
Half of the funding was grant money for infrastructure, and the other half is for the state’s equity position in the project moving forward, Kenny said.
Since 2008, town officials have been encouraging mixed-use development with a residential component. However, they don’t have a concerted plan to add more rental units, and the projects that have come online have been driven by developers not town planners.
Meanwhile, Lexington Partners has been actively developing apartments in Greater Hartford in recent years.
Kenny built the 100-unit former Trumbull on the Park apartments in downtown Hartford, now Spectra on the Park, at 100 Trumbull St.
In West Hartford, he is underway with converting a convent at Prospect and Park roads into a $65-million luxury apartment community, One Park. Kenny is also partnering with Hartford parking magnate Alan Lazowski and New York landlord Shelbourne Global LLC in the $100 million makeover of downtown Hartford’s Pratt Street commercial corridor.
His firm has also erected hundreds of luxury apartments in Bloomfield, Glastonbury and Windsor.