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New London - The Shaw's Cove area could be the site of significant development in the next year, with a 450-space parking lot now proposed down the street from a planned retail and residential complex announced last fall.
Tony Silvestri, who managed the New London Harbour Towers project and the ongoing City Flats housing restoration plan, has been working with the Renaissance City Development Association to develop plans for a parking lot at the corner of Howard and Hamilton streets.
Kyle Klewin, a partner in Klewin Development of Groton, received approval last month from the Planning and Zoning Commission for a development at the corner of Bank and Howard streets consisting of a grocery store on the ground level and apartments on three floors above. He expects to break ground within a year.
The 5-acre parcel proposed for the parking lot once included the site of a New London landmark, Hughie's restaurant. It's under the control of the RCDA, the successor to the New London Development Corp.
Silvestri said the parking lot he is proposing could help alleviate some of the issues created by Electric Boat employees parking on Pequot Avenue and on nearby residential streets.
"This would help, at least in the short term, to take care of the parking needs for EB and possibly some other businesses in the vicinity," he said. "This is not the solution for parking, but it is certainly part of a solution. It's something that is very tangible in the sense that it can happen in a relatively short period of time."
If Silvestri receives all the proper approvals, which he expects will take a few months, the construction of the lot is expected to take less than 60 days. "Convenient parking is so important," Silvestri said. "You can't put a price on that."
But the site would not remain exclusively a parking lot forever, he said. Eventually, Silvestri would like to market the plot for development of research or office spaces.
Klewin's project is expected to include an 18,500-square-foot grocery store, which Klewin declined to name because he said he is still in negotiations with the company. Another 1,500 square feet would be for a second retail outlet, which Klewin also declined to name but called a "national tenant."
The housing portion of the development would include 31 one-bedroom and 12 two-bedroom apartments.
The site, which is known as Parcel J, has been vacant for decades, ever since the New London Redevelopment Agency bought the land in 1972 as part of a citywide Urban Renewal Plan.
In his State of the City address earlier this month, Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio said that having people living downtown is a "key to the economic revitalization of our central business district."
Klewin has said 80 percent of the units would be market rate and 20 percent would be affordable housing. The residential portion also would include a gymnasium, and office and meeting spaces. The plans also include a parking lot for residents and shoppers.
Now, Klewin is working to secure funding for the roughly $12 million project before an anticipated groundbreaking within the next year.
"We are applying for some funds from the state, so much of it is contingent on the success and timeline of those applications," he said. "But it could be as early as late fall/early winter or spring next year."
"After 41 years of vacancy and neglect, instead of a lawn full of Canadian geese, we're going to have a downtown supermarket, which will support downtown living, and approximately 40 high-quality apartments," Finizio said in his address.
Klewin said the project will create jobs and generate tax revenue for the city. The grocery store would employ about 34 full-time and 13 part-time workers. The housing aspect would require five full-time positions, and construction would employ around 55 workers.
"It will get people living downtown, which is important to other businesses down there," he said. "People living downtown need services, and that promotes retail."