Developer proposes new 120-unit apartment complex at former Peachtree apartments site

Norwich — A Lebanon housing developer submitted plans to build a 120-unit apartment complex on the 9.8-acre site of the former Peachtree apartment complex that burned to the ground on April 26, 2008.

The father-son team of Darwin and Alex Gebbie are seeking city permits for a proposed four-building complex at 2 Westledge Drive with the same number of units as the former Peachtree complex, but with a very different design.

The former complex, built in 1970, resembled a set of brackets facing each other close together with a long narrow courtyard between them. Fire officials said the design aided the fast-moving fire that swept through both buildings in the early morning hours of April 26, 2008. Quick action by residents, police and firefighters evacuated all 150 residents, and there were no injuries.

Darwin Gebbie said the proposed plan would consist of 120 two-bedroom units as “garden style apartments.” The buildings would be arranged in a quad, with two larger ones with 36 units each diagonally across from each other and two 24-unit buildings at the opposite corners.

The Gebbies have a purchase option for the property with current owner Peachtree Limited Partnership, headed by Jerry Brophy of Old Saybrook. Darwin Gebbie said the owner approached him about 18 months ago but the Gebbies weren’t ready to take on the project.

The father and son — Alex said he brokered the purchase agreement — now are ready for the project and would complete the purchase of the property if the development receives permit approval.

The Gebbies also are the developers of The Hills at Riverview, a 169-unit complex on Route 97 in Taftville, across from the Ponemah Mill complex and the Shetucket River. Darwin Gebbie said 109 units are built, and foundations in the ground for two buildings of 10 units each and a clubhouse are under construction in the current phase. Four more buildings are planned, he said.

The family also manages its rental properties under Pledge Property Management.

The proposed Peachtree project needs a zoning variance to allow 120 units on the property, instead of the limit of 76 allowed in the regulations. The developers would be allowed the 120 units if they were replacing the former buildings with the same building footprint, city Zoning Enforcement Officer Richard Shuck said. The ZBA will hold a public hearing at its 7 p.m. meeting July 10.

City Planner Deanna Rhodes said if the zoning variance is approved, the project also would need site development plan review and approval by the Commission on the City Plan.

“We build high-end units, good quality,” Darwin Gebbie said. “We get a lot of professional people, a fair number of military officers who don’t want to live on the (Naval Submarine) base. We have other units in the area that work very well for us. And the market is good in Norwich.”

c.bessette@theday.com

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