Howard Street apartment project stalled but still alive

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New London — The city’s development arm has denied a request for a six-month extension to a development agreement with Shipway 221 LLC, the developer who has proposed a 200-unit apartment complex off Howard Street.

The extension was unnecessary, as it turns out. Shipway has seven more months left on a two-year development agreement with the Renaissance City Development Association and until Aug. 31 to get a shovel in the ground.

The RCDA granted Shipway a three-month extension in October, giving the developer until Jan. 23 to fulfill its obligations set forth in a developer approval period that was part of the overall agreement signed with the Tagliatela family in August 2017.

RCDA Executive Director Peter Davis said Shipway updated its construction timeline and business plan and provided confirmation of financing for the project prior to the Jan. 23 deadline.

The Shipway project is stalled while its principals, the Tagliatela family, seek an equity partner. It started marketing the estimated $30 million project through a real estate broker in the fall.

Shipway was touted as the likely first “out of the ground” project in the Fort Trumbull Municipal Development Plan area that was approved by the city in 2000. The MDP covers about 80 acres, including the Fort Trumbull peninsula made notorious because of a U.S. Supreme Court decision, Kelo v. City of New London, that allowed the city to seize land through eminent domain.

Shipway would cover the 5.5-acre site where Hughie’s Restaurant once stood and already has obtained local land-use approvals.

“My concern is time,” Davis said of the prospect the project would start in the coming months.

Davis said Shipway has indicated it still is working to secure a partner. He said he sees hurdles for any new partner that wants to change the design of the project, because that likely would mean it will have to go back for local land-use approvals.

The existing agreement with Shipway also requires the Tagliatelas, owners of Franklin Construction, to remain as the majority partner for the project. A new developer would need to be vetted by the RCDA.

In conjunction with the project, Davis said the RCDA is considering a new request by Shipway to modify the existing land-swap agreement with Lawrence + Memorial Hospital, which owns a medical complex across the street.

An initial agreement had L+M trading a piece of land it owns that cuts through the Shipway project, in exchange for the RCDA-owned land adjacent to the L+ M parking lot. Shipway is expected to extend the L+M parking lot, at a cost of about $30,000, as part of the deal.

Under the development agreement, that can’t happen until Shipway closes on the land and pays the RCDA a $129,000 purchase price. Shipway already has paid the RCDA about $39,000, an amount equal to taxes on the assessed value of the land.

Davis said Shipway has asked for the RCDA to convey the two small parcels prior to the closing to allow construction of the parking lot extension. The RCDA’s real estate committee tabled discussion on the matter and will take up the request at a later date.

A representative from Shipway, also known as New London County Real Estate LLC, could not be reached for comment.

g.smith@theday.com 

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