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New Haven firm pitches idea for 200-unit complex in New London

New London — It appears the market for residential real estate in New London has not waned.

A month after one developer dropped its plans for an apartment complex on Howard Street, another has stepped in to take its place.

RJ Development + Advisors LLC, a New Haven-based commercial real estate development company, has put together conceptual plans and an ambitious schedule for construction of a four-story, 200-unit market-rate residential complex at the corner of Hamilton and Howard streets.

The city’s development arm — the Renaissance City Development Association — named RJ Development preferred developer on Thursday, setting into motion a due diligence period and the start of work to revise designs for the project.

The RCDA manages and markets the properties in the Fort Trumbull municipal development area for the city. Just down the road, at the corner of Bank and Howard streets and outside the municipal development area, AR Builders is constructing an apartment complex with more than 100 units.

The Howard Street parcel, once the site of Hughie's Restaurant, became available again in August when the Tagliatela family, the financial backers of the Shipway 221 project, ended two years of negotiations with the RCDA and attempts to find a financial partner.

RJ Development had been working with Shipway as its potential partner over the past several months and is familiar with the project and the site. RCDA Executive Director Peter Davis said RJ Development has an investment in the project and is well-positioned to move quickly.

“We had already had staff-level conversations about them becoming partners in the project. We’re a little bit ahead of the game,” Davis said.

RJ Development Principal Jason Rudnick said he was “excited to be part of what I consider a true renaissance in New London.”

“There are some fabulous things occurring and we’re happy to be a small part of it,” he said.

The project would be the first “out-of-the-ground” project in the Fort Trumbull municipal development area. On the Fort Trumbull peninsula — the center of the 2005 landmark eminent domain case Kelo v. City of New London — the RCDA is simultaneously negotiating with two developers who have pitched plans for a hotel and a residential development.

RJ Development already has architects and engineering and environmental service firms on board.

Davis said RJ Development is pursuing an aggressive timeline that could include submission of a plan before the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission by spring. Rudnick said while there is not a set timeline, “we want to be able to move as efficiently and at the same time as quickly as possible.”

Former RJ Development projects include several Rite Aid Pharmacies, a $15 million, 30,000-square-foot built-to-suit corporate headquarters for Continuum of Care Inc. and the 160-unit College & Crown, billed as a “premier luxury multi-family rental apartment development in downtown New Haven.”

The College & Crown project was completed in 2017 and boasts a “fitness center, two roof-top courtyards, attended front desk with concierge services, clubhouse, 140 secured and climate-controlled parking spaces, and a hotel-quality lobby,” along with retail space on the ground level. Rents there range from $1,840 to $3,556 per month.

Davis said he expects many elements of the agreement with Shipway to be included in a future development agreement with RJ Development. Shipway had agreed to pay more than $200,000 for the purchase of the land and development fees, along with taxes on the property.

RJ also has agreed to take on remaining environmental remediation on the property and facilitate a land swap with Yale New Haven Health, which owns a small swatch of land at the site needed to complete the project.

“The bottom line is we are excited to have this opportunity, excited to work with the city and with RCDA to be able to bring this to fruition,” Rudnick said.

g.smith@theday.com

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