Howard Street residential complex plan wins zoning approval

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New London — Plans for a 201-unit residential complex planned for a Howard Street brownfield site won approval Thursday from the city's Planning and Zoning Commission.

If all goes as planned, Shipway 221 would be built on vacant land, a portion of which was home to the former Hughie's Restaurant. The units, either condos or apartments or both, are expected to include one-, two- and three-bedroom units with a host of amenities designed to attract millennials and the growing number of Electric Boat employees.

The project is being funded in part by the Tagliatela family and its company Franklin Enterprises, doing business locally as New London County Realty. The project manager is Tony Silvestri.

Louis Tagliatela Jr. and Silvestri were on hand Thursday night, and both received handshakes from Mayor Michael Passero after a unanimous vote from the commission.

The Renaissance City Development Association negotiated the development agreement that allows the purchase of the RCDA-owned land for $208,000, which has an assessed value of $644,000. The price was dropped in exchange for the developers financing up to $500,000 for continued environmental cleanup of the site.

The RCDA already has used $400,000 in federal grant funds at the site, which used to be home to a barrel-cleaning factory, two bottling plants, a gas station and a junkyard.

The deal is in place but not yet been executed.

Part of the agreement includes a land swap. The RCDA has negotiated with Lawrence + Memorial Hospital to convey two small parcels bisecting the residential complex site in exchange for RCDA-owned land next to L+M’s office complex across the street.

The timeline for groundbreaking has not yet been established. While zoning approval was the last local hurdle, construction drawing will get underway for the phased project, which will include three buildings, Tagliatela said.

The Tagliatela family, which financed the construction of Harbour Towers, recently donated 21 of its unsold luxury condo units at 461 Bank St. to the University of New Haven. Louis Tagliatela said Thursday that was done because of several other large projects in the works.

While he is seeking a joint venture partner for the Shipway project, Tagliatela said he remained confident the project would get done.

Construction on the 5.4-acre site, known as parcels 5c-1 and 5c-2, would be the first new development in the Fort Trumbull Municipal Development, which was the subject of an eminent domain fight that went to the U.S. Supreme Court. Former Hughie’s owner Hughie Devlin was paid $1.1 million for the land by RCDA’s predecessor, the New London Development Corp.

"I look forward to this moving forward and (seeing) that field actually be of use," Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Barry Levine said.

Shipway 221's name is an homage to both Hughie's, which was located at 221 Howard St., and to the history of Howard Street, which used to be waterfront property and where boats may have been launched. A shipway is an area where a ship is built and launched.

The approval comes even as A.R. Building Co. prepares to submit its plans for a 90- to 100-unit apartment complex at the corner of Howard and Bank streets, city-owned land known as Parcel J.


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