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    Sunday, June 16, 2024

    Another housing project completed in New London, more on the way

    The Docks apartments on Bank Street in New London on Thursday, June 25, 2021. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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    New London — A ribbon cutting and a ground breaking in the same day is an unusual event, even in a city where the pace of residential development has continued to ramp up over the past several years.

    The ceremonial ribbon cutting was held Thursday on the top floor of the 137-unit complex known as The Docks, a structure that now dominates a portion of Bank Street that had been empty for decades.

    The land where it was built had been as known as Parcel J, a formerly city-owned property and remnant of the Shaw's Cove Urban Renewal Plan from the early 1970s. The Renaissance City Development Association sold the property for $650,000 in 2018.

    City officials, visitors and representatives from A.R. Building Co. toured the upscale units inside The Docks, snapped photos, gawked at the water views from a rooftop deck and later drove a few miles to Georgetown Road for a groundbreaking on A.R. Building’s 86-unit Mansfield II development, which is a companion project to the 104 units completed in 2018 on Mansfield Road. That complex filled up in a matter of a few months.

    Mayor Michael Passero credited A.R. Building for following through on ideas company officials had pitched when he first took office and called The Docks an important project that demonstrates a revival in the city. Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut President and CEO Tony Sheridan said it was another example of a project that has “elevated the standard here in New London.”

    A host of other residential developments are in various stages across the city. Felix Reyes, director of the city’s Office of Development and Planning, said the market is ripe for housing. The housing will attract more people who will support local small businesses and help energize the local economy. City officials say filling empty storefronts will chase away blight.

    The new apartments are targeting Electric Boat employees, including engineers who work in the city, and others from some of the city’s major employers such as Lawrence + Memorial Hospital and the two colleges. People with disposable income now will have options to live in New London rather than in surrounding towns, officials said. Some newer developments are attracting empty nesters.  

    People are expected to start moving into the Docks on July 15, and A.R. Building representative Jason Kambitsis said 30 of the units are pre-leased. The units range in price from $1,100 per month for a 443-square-foot studio to $1,995 for a 1,103-square-foot, two bedroom and two-bath unit — all with available upgrades. A fee of $175 per month includes access to a fitness center, rooftop sundeck, front door trash pick up, cable and high speed internet service.

    A.R. and other developers along Bank Street have proven there is a market for the upscale apartments and others are following suit.

    High Tide Capital, the team of Max Patinkin and Dash Davidson, obtained a special use permit from the Planning and Zoning Commission in April for an adaptive reuse of the office building at 223 State St., known as the Manwaring Building. The plan is to convert the space into 21 apartments, including five two-level, two- and three-bedroom “townhouses” in the rear-facing first floor area. Prices of the units tentatively would range from $1,250 to $1,950 per month.

    Developers also hope to bring a street level restaurant on State Street with a gym in the basement. The building has 12 parking spaces and a pedestrian walkway to the parking garage. Developers say they have experience redeveloping historic properties in Brooklyn, San Francisco and Maine.

    “We have seen what tasteful historic rehabilitation can do to a neighborhood and communities and we are excited to bring our experience to New London,” developers wrote in their application to the city. “We believe that the Manwaring building has the potential to return to its former status as a marquee property in New London. We believe that its highest and best use is mixed-use building catering to all the needs of a vibrant urban downtown: Commercial, Residential & Retail.”

    Sale of the building is in the final stages. Owner George Waterman said there are some details to work out but was impressed by the energy and vision of the buyers. 

    Mel Foti, managing director of 300 State Street Properties, whose company’s real estate holdings include the Dewart Building at 300 State St. and the building occupied by Dev’s Bistro at 312 State St., said he welcomes new residents.

    “If this development goes forward, it’s a great thing for the city. It’s a great thing for upper State Street. It reinforces what’s happening down here,” he said of the ribbon cutting at The Docks on Bank Street.

    Foti said more residents living on State Street would benefit existing businesses and brighten up a portion of State Street.

    "It would be nice to have more people," Foti said. "Every little bit helps, especially when it’s people with disposable income, which is critical."


    A sampling of other developments in the city

    120 Broad St.: Tauche Capital, LLC obtained approval from Planning & Zoning for a change of use application for the Richard R. Martin Center at 120 Broad St., another formerly city-owned building expected to house 46 units for the 55 and older crowd, The city will lease the adjacent Senior Center.

    90 Garfield Ave.: This week, the state awarded $1,999,998 for the abatement and remediation of the former Edward Bloom Silk Mill located at 90 and 100 Garfield Ave. for the planned creation of up to 90 income-based housing units. The funding, applied for by the city, was awarded through the state Department of Economic and Community Development's Brownfield Remediation Program. The property was purchased by Litchfield-based Park Lane Group in in 2019.

    Howard Street: In 2020, the City Council approved a tax abatement schedule for RJ Development + Advisors, which is planning an estimated $30 million, 200-unit residential complex on Howard Street. The property is a vacant site that is part of the Fort Trumbull Municipal Development area. Officials say the project is moving forward.

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