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City approves development agreement for housing, hotel at Fort Trumbull

New London — A housing and hotel development proposal for Fort Trumbull could be fully designed, possibly even approved, by the end of the year.

The City Council on Monday unanimously approved a development agreement with Optimus Senior Living Group LLC that details a set of requirements and benchmarks for construction of 104 housing units — condominiums or apartments — and a hotel with extended stay suites.

The developers have been working with the city’s development arm, the Renaissance City Development Association, for months on a proposal that would occupy 4 acres in the long-vacant Fort Trumbull municipal development area.

It would be the second major construction project on the Fort Trumbull site. RJ Development + Advisors, which is now constructing a 200-unit apartment complex on Howard Street, lays claim to the first new construction in the area that was the center of the landmark 2005 U.S. Supreme Court case Kelo v. New London.

Once approvals are in place, Optimus has three years to complete the project with incentives built into the agreement to make the project come to fruition even sooner. If the proposal obtains necessary permits and approvals, the city would sell the property, located on parcels designated 2A, 2B and 2C, to Optimus for $750,000. The property is adjacent to the U.S. Coast Guard Station and Fort Trumbull State Park and a short distance from the city’s planned $30 million regional recreation center.

RCDA Executive Director Peter Davis said incentives of up to $100,000 off the purchase price could be obtained by Optimus if it submits design documents for review, obtains permits and closes on the property by the end of the year. It’s an admittedly ambitious schedule, Davis said, but he has assurances the company plans to move swiftly. Optimus has been working with the civil engineering firm Close, Jensen and Miller for at least a month to finalize its plans for submission to the city.

Optimus has also agreed to provide the RCDA with a $50,000 deposit to cover RCDA expenses for the work leading up to the closing.

Optimus, based in Southampton, Mass., has a portfolio of senior living facilities and in 2019 completed a 115-unit senior housing complex called Elmbrook Village in Bozrah at an estimated cost of $17 million.

The RCDA first started working with Optimus several years ago when the company considered construction of a hotel and conference center on a different Fort Trumbull parcel. It also explored the idea of a senior housing project, an idea that was rebuffed by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

The City Council, which did not comment publicly on its unanimous vote on Monday, had previously approved the abandonment of a portion of East Street to help accommodate the development and reduce developments costs.

Davis said he has assurances from Optimus that it is doing whatever it can to have all necessary submissions in by December.

"We are very excited about this project. We have all worked very hard putting this plan together. We have reviewed various design concepts and feel that the final product integrates the feel of the neighborhood and New London generally," said RCDA President Linda Mariani. "This will be a wonderful addition to the development of our city and will complement the other projects being planned for the Fort Trumbull area."

Mariani credited Davis, Optimus President Fred Mielke and RCDA Attorney Mark  Zamarka for putting in the time to finalize details of the development agreement.

A representative from Optimus was not immediately available to comment Tuesday.

g.smith@theday.com

 

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