Two new energy-efficient apartment buildings open at Pequot Village in Groton
Groton — Two new energy-efficient, eight-unit apartment buildings have opened at the Pequot Village Housing Development, which the Groton Housing Authority hopes will serve as a model for future renovations.
The "pilot project" called for tearing down two of the development's single-story, eight-unit buildings, which were energy inefficient and housed smaller units, to make way for two new two-story buildings. The new buildings feature roofs with solar shingles, geothermal heating and cooling, and larger apartments, according to the Groton Housing Authority.
The Groton Housing Authority has two housing developments in Groton for moderate-income elderly or people with disabilities: the 104-unit Pequot Village development on Poquonnock Road and the 70-unit Grasso Gardens development located at Governors Circle off Route 117.
Nancy Codeanne, former Groton Housing Authority Board chair, said during an open house on Thursday that she hopes the state-of-the-art buildings "represent just the start of more to come" at a time when housing has become a critical issue. The housing authority hopes in the future to be able to renovate the rest of the property, which features studio and one bedroom units in single-story buildings.
Robert Frink, the new housing authority board chair, said the overall goal of the new buildings is energy efficiency and sustainability.
Groton Housing Authority Executive Director Rob Cappelletti said the two older buildings, which were built around the late 1960s, were severely energy inefficient and residents’ electric bills became quite large in the winter and hot summer months. The utility costs in the new units are included in the rents, unlike in the other units.
“We wanted to help the residents out because this is a moderate-income rental housing development so our people have fixed income, or some people do work but it's limited income," said Cappelletti, adding that the Housing Authority wanted to ensure they have more money in their pocket to spend on other things to improve their quality of life.
The two-story structures, built within the footprint of the two single-story buildings, allowed for the housing authority to double the size of the units to about 685 square feet, according to the housing authority.
The new apartments have features such as LED lighting, vinyl siding with heavy insulation behind it, and Energy Star appliances, according to the housing authority.
"The new apartments were built using Passive House Design principles that include a high level of insulation, an airtight building envelope where fresh air is continuously exchanged through an inlet system with filters and condition, high performance windows, geothermal heating and cooling and solar shingles for electrical energy," the housing authority said in a news release.
Cappelletti said the geothermal system has wells in the back of the development that go down about 350 to 400 feet, and water is circulated through a heat exchanger system that brings energy into each unit so it reduces energy costs. Project Manager Andrew Woodstock of Eastern Connecticut Housing Opportunities showed on Thursday how the system works.
During a tour of the new apartments, Groton Housing Authority representatives pointed out features of the units, such as the New England-style exterior, open floor plans, and small balconies on the second floor. The first-floor units are handicap accessible.
Architect Chris Widmer said the "shoreline contemporary" buildings have shingle-style vinyl siding and feature a lot of windows for natural lighting.
Property manager Jamie Lee said the new units are being rented out quickly.
The housing development is open to people who are 62 years or older, or have disabilities, and have a maximum income of $46,100 for one person or $52,650 for a couple, according to the housing department. People pay either the base rent or 30% of their adjusted income, whichever is higher.
Base rents at the development range from $500 for the studios, to $1,200 for the new larger one-bedrooms, she said.
Cappelletti said the project cost about $3.7 million. He said the housing authority borrowed private funds from Chelsea Groton Bank and received a $500,000 housing tax credit from the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority. He thanked Groton Utilities for purchasing the tax credits and contributing those funds to the project.