With Groton jobs growth, developers eye Gold Star Highway for apartments

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Groton — Developers are proposing an approximately 300-unit apartment community on four properties on Gold Star Highway, including two parcels currently owned by the town.

The Town Council this week authorized the town manager to sign an option agreement with PJ&A LLC of Uncasville, which wants to buy the two town-owned properties, comprising 11.75 acres in total, at 517 and 529 Gold Star Highway. Town Manager John Burt said Friday he expects to soon sign the option agreement.

PJ&A would develop a multifamily housing community with at least 300 apartments on those two properties and two others it owns to the east at 553 and 571 Gold Star Highway, according to the option to purchase agreement. The four properties encompass more than 17 acres overall.

The proposed apartment community would be a partnership of LeCesse Development Corporation, based in Florida, and Kaali-Nagy Properties, based in Connecticut, according to town documents.

With the ramp-up in hiring at Electric Boat, Groton, like other communities in the region, needs newer apartments, said Assistant Planning Director Deb Jones. The apartments would be market-rate.

The plans currently are conceptual. Burt said the developers will have to return to the Town Council to gain approval on the plans when they are fleshed out.

The developers also will need site plan approval from the Planning and Zoning Commission and may need a wetlands permit, Jones said.

The developers are expected to do their due diligence, including obtaining permitting approvals and doing utility work, land development and preparation work, said Paige Bronk, the town's economic and community development manager.

“When they are ready, then they will close on the property,” Bronk said.

The option to purchase agreement for 517 and 529 Gold Star Highway is for an initial one-year period but may be extended, the agreement states. The option price of $16,000 can be applied toward the $228,000 purchase price if the option is exercised within the one-year period or within six months of an extended option period, according to the document.

PJ&A LLC had no official comment at this time. LeCesse Development Corporation and Kaali-Nagy Properties could not immediately be reached for comment.

In 2016, the town had issued a request for proposals for the two town-owned undeveloped properties on Gold Star Highway. The town had foreclosed on the properties for past-due taxes, said Jon Reiner, director of planning and development services for the town.

Groton has been marketing its excess properties — from vacant former school buildings to foreclosed properties — as redevelopment opportunities, rather than simply as real-estate transactions, Reiner and Bronk have said.

The Town Council approved last month a letter of intent with ThayerMahan for another of the town's excess properties, the former Groton Heights School, with the closing expected this fall, Bronk said. As ThayerMahan grows and projects an additional 40 jobs in the next two years, the company plans to redevelop the 27,185-square-foot Groton Heights School building at 244 Monument St. in the city to accommodate its expansion and hopes to open the new facility next year, ThayerMahan Chief Operating Officer Richard J. Hine has said. The company also will keep its existing facility on Leonard Drive. 

k.drelich@theday.com

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