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CT Construction Digest Wednesday September 13, 2023

Multifamily development proposed near Windsor Locks’ new train station

Hanna Snyder Gambinit

small multifamily development could sprout up within walking distance of Windsor Locks’ downtown transit-oriented development zone and new train station.

Owner and applicant Fazza Saleh has applied for an adaptive reuse permit to redevelop the property at 97 Suffield St., formerly known as the Italian Progressive Club, into four multifamily residential units. 

The surrounding area is residential, making the new use “more like adjacent uses than the previous club and assembly/banquet use,” the application said. 

The redevelopment would also “remove a long vacant eyesore and provide increased housing options” within walking distance of the transit-oriented development zone where a new train station is under construction.

This development site is just over 1 acre.

The applicant proposes to keep the location and height of the building, while proposing new windows, doors, painting, trim and better maintenance of the parking area and landscaping. 

Saleh bought the property in July from the town of Windsor Locks for $76,000, according to land records.

Purchase of Norwalk properties near SoNo school clears latest funding hurdle

Kalleen Rose Ozanic

NORWALK — The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission approved $2.9 million in special appropriations funds for the purchase of six properties adjoining the proposed South Norwalk School.

The new capital comes from the Jefferson Marine Science Elementary School improvement project account’s free balance, according to officials in the commission’s meeting last Wednesday.

This funding comes after the August approval of a combined $2 million from the Jefferson free balance and the Ponus Ridge School Improvement Project free balance to go toward flooding and road improvements

The city is looking to purchase properties at 28, 32, 36 and 38 Oxford St., 16 Meadow St. Ext, and a 1.13-parcel next to the proposed school property. 

The parcel formerly was part of the South Main Rail Corridor, identified in documents from a Board of Estimate and Taxation meeting.

This Planning and Zoning approval comes after the estimate and taxation board’s approval last month. Alan Lo, the project manager for the city, said both are required.

“Although the City is using residue funds from another school construction account, we have to go through a Special Capital Appropriation process,” Lo said in an email. “This process, as stipulated in the City Ordinance, requires that we go through the Board of Estimate and Taxation and Planning and Zoning Commission.”

He said each “request is the same,” despite the different approvals.

“However, the Board of Estimate and Taxation evaluation is from a financial perspective while the Planning and Zoning Commission is reviewing it from a land use perspective,” Lo said.

In the Planning and Zoning meeting, officials said the properties, if purchased, would allow for enhanced vehicular and student access, additional parking, and more recreational and open space for the school.

The acquisitions would also allow for traffic upgrades like right-of-way improvements, removing sight line obstructions, modifications to travel lanes and reconfigurations on the intersection of South Main Street, Meadow Street, Meadow Street Extension, and Wilson Avenue.

These improvements are part of the city’s plan to build the first school in the South Norwalk neighborhood in 40 years.

The city acquired the 11.7-acre former Hatch and Bailey Lumber Company property at 1 Meadow St. Extension for the $76 million school last year. 

Set to open in fall 2025, the school can accommodate a maximum of 682 students. In its first year, the enrollment is expected to be  85 percent of the maximum — approximately 580 students.

Lo said the next steps for the school are coming soon. The Finance and Claims Committee of the Common Council recommended the matter for the full council, which is expected to vote on the funding on Tuesday evening.  The council will meet at 7:30 p.m. on Zoom.

Medical office building, 51 condos planned for River Road site in Shelton

Brian Gioiele

SHELTON — River Road has become a focus for housing development projects — the latest proposal calling for more than four dozen condo units and a medical office building along the Housatonic River. 

Developers have submitted two applications, one to create a Planned Development District designation on property listed as 740 River Road, the other to modify an already existing PDD at neighboring property at 762 River Road. 

The plans for the 10-acre site — which sits next to the long-vacant Autoswage Products, Inc., part of the proposed Great River Water Club project presently before the Planning and Zoning Commission — call for 51 condominium units overlooking the Housatonic River and construction of a three-story, 30,000-square-foot building listed as a medical office building that would face River Road. 

This housing project also comes on the heels of a four-building, 152-unit apartment plan, approved the Planning and Zoning Commission in July, to be located at 453 River Road. That site, presently vacant, sits across the street from Cumberland Farms, Hook Line and Sinker and the entrance to Jordan Avenue.

Developers 740 River Road, LLC last year received approval from the Inland Wetlands Commission for to redevelop land at 740 River Road, presently home to three structures that would be demolished to make way for the new project. 

The original plans called for construction of 41 duplex units, the medical office building and a 13,500-square-foot building marked as a supermarket. The supermarket has been removed in the latest set of applications. 

"The grocery store was eliminated based on tenant/market demand,” said attorney Dominick Thomas, who represents the developers. “The current application divides the 740 River Road parcel into two applications. The 51 condos — riverfront — are a PDD application. 

“Waterfront developments never have any problems with demand,” Thomas added. 

The application for the medical office building is an amendment to the already approved plan at 762 River Road.  

The 2-acre portion of 740 River Road on which the medical office building is proposed will become part of that PDD, according to Thomas. That 762 Rover Road site already has a medical office and a commercial structure that houses restaurants Parker, Fatty Patty and P.izza, plus OrthoFast and Bushi Ban Shelton facing River Road. 

The owner of 740 River Road is the principal in the LLCs that own both parcels, Thomas said. 

Developer looks to build 500 apartments, six-story garage at Fort Trumbull

John Penney

New London — The Planning & Zoning Commission on Wednesday is expected to discuss and possibly approve a New Haven-based real estate developer’s plans to build 500 new apartments and a six-story parking garage on the Fort Trumbull peninsula.

RJ Development + Advisors, LLC, doing business as RJDA Fort Trumbull AA, LCC, is proposing to build two five-story apartment complexes — one on Nameaug Street and another at 28 Walbach St. — along with a 1,200-space parking garage at 26 East St., according to the site plan and special permit applications received by the city.

In January, the three city-owned properties totaling 6.28 acres and now poised for development were sold to RJ Development for $500,001 through an agreement with the Renaissance City Development Association, the city’s development arm.

Several parcels on the peninsula have been vacant for almost 20 years, the result of a controversial demolition and development push by the New London Development Corp. using eminent domain that led to the landmark 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Kelo v. New London.

According to an Aug. 28 application, the 247,450-square-foot Nameaug Street phase, part of a larger parcel north of Chelsea Street, will include 251 apartments — 44 studio, 136 one-bedroom and 71 two-bedroom units— and 234 parking places.

The 251,600-square-foot Walbach Street project site, located across the street from the city’s water treatment plant, will be home to 249 apartment units — 43 studios, 131 one-bedroom and 75 two-bedroom units — and 234 parking spaces.

Both apartment complex sites are nestled in the city’s maritime district and the city’s opportunity zone, the latter offering tax-free appreciation and deferred capital gains if certain conditions are met by developers.

The complexes will include outdoor amenities such as fire pits and seating areas with interior spaces set aside for offices, fitness centers and community rooms, according to the site plan applications.

The East Street garage, set to be located between Walbach, Smith, East and Trumbull streets, is designed to be a private garage, said Felix Reyes, the city’s director of economic development and planning.

He anticipated the proposed structure would serve Electric Boat and other local employers and will be built right across the street from where a new city community center is taking shape in the shadow of Fort Trumbull State Park.

“If you go down those streets right now, you’ll see them just cluttered with cars,” Reyes said. “As far as new housing, it’s an absolute need in the city.”

Reyes said it’s not uncommon for new housing complexes to have up to 700 prospective tenants vying for 200 available apartments. He called Jason Rudnick, principal at RJ Developments, a proven project closer who successfully brought a 203-unit apartment complex, The Beam, to Howard Street.

“He doesn’t mess around,” Reyes said, adding construction on the Nameaug Street complex could begin within the year.

City Parking Authority Director Carey Redd II said he’s been trying since 2016 to get “structured parking” into the Fort Trumbull area.

“While Electric Boat employees will use the lion’s share of the spaces, there’s also the community center, hotels and residential units going up, a myriad of patrons for that garage,” he said.

Rudnick could not be reached to comment on Monday. No rental price estimates were included in project applications. Monthly rent for studio and one-bedroom apartments at The Beam range from $1,891 to $2,616 according to several real-estate websites.

Mayor Michael Passero estimated the area is short roughly 10,000 housing units with the bulk of interested renters and leasers preferring to put roots down in an urban setting.

“These new complexes are delivering units that are in high demand,” he said.

The Planning & Zoning Commission will meet at 4:30 p.m., Wednesday at City Hall to discuss the pending applications.