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    Saturday, September 24, 2022

    Owners weigh options for former Edgerton School property

    New London — A proposal that surfaced in 2016 to construct housing at the site of the former Edgerton School has outlived opposition by neighbors, rejection by planning and zoning officials and other various other hurdles through the years.

    But it was a third unsuccessful attempt to obtain state funding that may have finally defeated the plan.

    The owner of the 120 Cedar Grove Ave. property and three adjoining parcels is unlikely to apply again for funds for the project and may end up placing the site up for sale.

    Michael Mattos, president and executive director of Affordable Housing and Services Collaborative Inc., which owns the property, said that officially the options are being weighed for a final decision by its board.

    Realistically, Mattos said, “I don’t see it working.”

    “I feel as though we’ve tried everything we could,” he said. “It would be a great project and would make a lot of sense.”

    But the nonprofit has for three consecutive years simultaneously applied for housing tax credits through the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority and for financing though the state Department of Housing.

    The state scores applications with a point system for such things as proximity to an intermodal transportation hub. As an example, Mattos said, the hub would need to be located within a half-mile of the complex to gain points. The property is 0.7 miles away from such a facility.

    “We just have not been able to generate enough points to competitively get the funding we need to move the project forward. It’s sort of squeezing a square peg into a round hole,” he said.

    In addition to the $600,000 purchase price, the company continues to pay taxes and maintenance fees at the property. City records show the company additionally is paying taxes at 130, 136 and 124 Cedar Grove Ave., properties it purchased to expand the 3.3-acre site.

    “I just don’t see it working. We’re exploring options and definitely one of those options is to sell the property and stop the bleeding," Mattos said.

    The project was announced in 2016 as the replacement site for the 124-unit Crystal Avenue high-rises. Opposition to the low-income housing project, however, forced the New London Housing Authority to take an alternative route.

    The project was scaled back to 72 units and later to a 52-unit, mixed-income complex.

    The city once had a chance to buy the property for $350,000 in 2016 from former owner Peter Levine. Mayor Michael Passero, in his first term in office, had negotiated the deal as a site for a future community center. Several members of the City Council at the time, leery of a purchase without a solid plan, killed the deal by letting time expire on the offer.

    The current City Council recently approved spending $140,000 for a private firm, Brailsford & Dunlavey, to develop a plan for a future community center, or regional recreational facility. While the initial thought was to construct the facility at Fort Trumbull, all options are expected to be explored. In fact, the City Council removed the name of Fort Trumbull in its recent approval vote after some councilors had expressed opposition to the site. Councilor John Satti even offered Bates Woods and the Edgerton property as alternatives.

    “Part of the planning process is to look at all viable locations, including Edgerton,” said Felix Reyes, director of the city’s Office of Development and Planning. “We have to look at that location and put it to the test.”

    Reyes said the future site not only has to be big enough to accommodate the community center and associated parking, but also must have proper infrastructure and zoning.

    He said the loss of Affordable Housing’s project is a loss to the city and there's still a critical need for housing of that sort.


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