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173-unit residential development pitched for Bank Street in New London

New London — The developer of the Shaw’s Landing condominium complex on Bank Street is proposing to finish a project it started more than a decade ago and add 173 apartment units to the downtown.

Cambridge, Mass.-based Oaktree Development first broke ground on Shaw’s Landing in 2004 and had at the time envisioned a three-phase plan for 120 upscale condominium units — the first of its kind in downtown. The project ended in 2006 after construction of one building and 35 condo units.

A revised project, to be taken up by the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission next month, calls for two five-story buildings with nearly double the number of units initially proposed. The plan would take advantage of an existing market for new, upscale apartments aimed at empty nesters and college, hospital and Electric Boat professionals, said Brandon Mitchell, a senior development manager with Oaktree Development.

“These are people that want to be closer to the downtown,” Mitchell said. “The plan is consistent with the city’s goal of creating a pedestrian friendly, walkable downtown.”

Together, the two proposed buildings will contain a total of 64 studio/micro units, 89 one-bedroom and 20 two-bedroom units on property located at 330-400 Bank St. They would be constructed to complement the existing building and share amenities that will include a landscaped courtyard, pool and a pool house with bathrooms and showers. Developers also plan improvements on the waterfront along Shaw’s Cove and are taking into consideration ideas brought forward by members of the Shaw’s Landing condominium association, Mitchell said.

One proposed 74-unit building would be built at the rear of the property facing Sparyard Street. The second building facing Bank Street will have 99 units. Mitchell said improvements to the site are likely to boost values at Shaw's Landing.

Along with surface lots, the developer has proposed 116 parking spaces in ground-level, under-building garages and is asking for approval from the city to use up to 50 spaces in the municipal parking lot off Tilley and Green streets.

The use of city-owned parking spaces is part of ongoing discussion as the city works to finalize a revised development agreement with Oaktree. That agreement would need approval by the City Council. Oaktree was selected as the preferred developer and bought the property from the city in the late 1990s as part of the Shaw’s Cove Urban Renewal Project.

While it is unclear whether the developer is seeking tax abatements for the project, the development is located in an Enterprise Zone that offers a seven-year graduated exemption of tax increases resulting from real property improvements.

The project, if approved and built, would add to a growing residential market in New London where there are multiple residential developments either under construction or in the planning stages. AR Building Co. has a 98-unit building under construction on a former city-owned parcel at the corner of Howard and Bank streets. RJ Development + Advisors is planning a 203-unit residential complex, also on city-owned property, on Howard Street. Both developers cited the growing EB workforce as fuel to the local apartment market.

Felix Reyes, director of the city’s Office of Development and Planning, said when taken together, the three housing developments on Bank and Howard streets will add critical mass to the downtown, providing more foot traffic and acting as a catalyst for new businesses and helping sustain existing ones.

Mitchell said Oaktree has evaluated its options through the years and is making a move now because of the market and willingness of the city to accommodate new development. He praised Mayor Michael Passero, Reyes and the city’s planning staff for their responsiveness, creativity and vision for the future of the city.

g.smith@theday.com

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