Fort Trumbull housing development takes another step forward

New London - The developers who plan to build housing in Fort Trumbull applied for $83,000 in building permits Tuesday for the first phase of a 103-unit project. They hope to start construction of the first 34 units next month.

The building department is expected to review the applications and rule on the permits for Riverbank Construction within the next several weeks for Parcels 2B and 2C on East and Bowditch streets in Fort Trumbull on land that was once federal property.

The development of the 90-acre Fort Trumbull area, which at one time included the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, has been an arduous process that included a legal battle in the U.S. Supreme Court. The new construction would be near but not on property that the city took by eminent domain.

A date for a groundbreaking is expected to be announced Thursday at the Renaissance City Development Association's annual meeting at 5:30 p.m. in the Harris Building on State Street and is open to the public.

"We are very pleased with the way it's come out,'' Riverbank Construction owner Robert Stillman said. "I think most people in New London will be pleased."

Construction on Parcel 2B includes 15 units of housing. Five units in four buildings will face Columbia Cove, and another five buildings, with a total of 10 units, would be angled toward the water. Detached garages with gabled roofs would be built behind the units.

Parcel 2C, which is adjacent to Fort Trumbull State Park, would have 19 units. One building would have four units with garages below the living areas. Six other buildings would include three-bedroom, single-family units with attached garages.

Stillman said he has financing for the first phase of the $24 million project, but he declined to give specifics. A condition of the development agreement, which includes the city giving the land to the developer for free, is that all permits must be approved and financing in place, according to John Brooks of the RCDA.

Tammy Daugherty, the city's director of development and planning, said the building department has been working with the developers to ensure all paperwork is in place. The fees the city charges pay for inspections by building officials as the project develops.

"The city administration has been working diligently to help this project move forward,'' Daugherty said. "This is a sign the project is invested and continuing. It adds a positive chapter to the story that is Fort Trumbull."

It began in 2000 when the New London Development Corp., now the RCDA, working as an agent for the city, leveled nearly all the buildings on the Fort Trumbull peninsula to make way for new, multi-use construction.

Some of the properties were taken by eminent domain and some owners fought the takings, dividing the city into factions. Many supported the city's right to take private property for economic development. Others supported the property owners.

The legal battle went to the U.S. Supreme Court, where in 2005, the court ruled that the city had the right to take property.

In 2009, Riverbank was named the chosen developer for about 7 acres on the peninsula. The city also has granted Riverbank tax abatements for the project under the 2011 City and Town Development Act. The act provides distressed municipalities with broad powers to encourage economic development, including offering tax breaks, issuing notes and bonds, and delegating powers to development agencies.

k.edgecomb@theday.com

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