New mixed-use development receives approval near Shaw’s Cove in New London
New London ― Developers received approval from the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission Thursday night to add 81 residential units and two commercial spaces on 150 Howard St.
The commission deferred making a decision on the application at its Sept. 15 meeting after it did not receive comments from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection in time.
Matthew Greene is the attorney representing the project’s developer, Keystone Capital Corp., and co-owners One-fifty Howard LLC and Nancy E. Wildes. The property was home to Miner and Alexander Lumber Co. and has been vacant for almost 20 years.
Greene said at the Sept. 15 meeting that the development would have four floors. He said the commercial spaces would comprise about 5,200 square feet on the first floor. Parking would be located behind the retail spaces.
He said the top three floors are residential and would include 15 studio, 31 one-bedroom and 27 two-bedroom units.
The property would also have a public access walkway to Shaw’s Cove and a rooftop garden.
At the Thursday meeting, Greene said the DEEP comments have been addressed with changes made since the last meeting.
Parking for the elevated structure was slightly reduced. At the meeting, Greene said the parking, originally proposed at 130 parking spaces, has been reduced to 125 parking which is still larger than the recommended 108 parking spaces per zoning regulations.
In a Sept. 22 letter to the commission, Greene wrote that the revisions include removing the service drive, retaining wall and dumpsters in the northwest corner of the site.
Three proposed retaining walls for flood and erosion control purposes were deemed by DEEP as inconsistent with the coastal policies and removed.
Commissioner Adam Sprecace asked what would be the flood and erosion control now that the walls were removed.
Seamus Moran, of H+H Engineering, said there would be a vegetated, graded slope down to the water to provide control.
The development is also required by DEEP to get a “structures, dredging and fill” license before work can begin.
Commission chair Barry Levine said his concern for the property was not the fill it would be built on —which is typical in the area. He said his concern was DEEP’s comments about the safety of residents in the event of a storm.
Levine read from the DEEP comments and said, “’Placing residential uses on a site in which access/egress would be nearly impossible for residents and first responders during severe coastal storms” is inconsistent with a Connecticut Coastal Management Act policy. He asked how the developers would address this.
Greene said there are a number of residential properties near the water that would meet the same criteria. He said with regard to flooding in the cove, people are warned days in advance to evacuate as shown by recent events in Florida, referring to Hurricane Ian making landfall in Fort Meyers, Fl. this week.
The Planning and Zoning Commission voted 7-0 to approve the site plan and special permit for the development on the basis of several conditions.
After the meeting, Greene said as the project progresses he expects minor changes but 95% of it will remain the same.
“It’s very consistent with other housing projects in New London,” he said. “It’ll be a nice place to live.”
The development on 150 Howard St. is the third proposed apartment complex along Howard street in recent years. Construction of The Residences at Fort Trumbull across the street is underway. The Docks, a 137-unit apartment complex, opened in the past year at the corner of Howard and Bank streets.
Contacted by phone Friday, Levine said the piece of property is difficult to develop and that has been seen in how nothing has happened there in 20 years.
“This is a reasonable approach,” Levine said. “The property owners have a right to do this and have made honest efforts to meet requirements.”