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    Thursday, May 30, 2024

    New London proposes $65M plan to raze, rebuild three aging housing complexes

    The George Washington Carver apartment building on Colman Street on Tuesday, Sept, 26, 2023, one of three affordable housing complexes New London officials are proposing for demolition and reconstruction in the coming years. (John Penney/The Day)
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    New London ― The New London Housing Authority is seeking professional guidance as part of an estimated $65 million plan to demolish and rebuild the three 60-year-old state-subsidized housing complexes it owns and manages.

    The authority this month began soliciting requests from architectural firms to prepare plans for the razing and reconstruction of the George Washington Carver Apartments on Colman Street and two other senior and disabled apartment buildings at Gordon Court and Riozzi Court. The authority expects to hire a firm by Nov. 15.

    “This is the first step in the process of a larger plan to remove all those buildings and construct more and larger units on the properties,” Housing Authority Executive Director Kolisha Kedron said on Tuesday.

    The authority also oversees the federally subsidized Williams Park Apartments on Hempstead Street, which is not part of the new plan.

    The preliminary design documents being solicited now are required before the New London Housing Authority submits an application to the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority and the state Department of Housing by fall 2024.

    Kedron estimated it will take up to seven years and about $65 million to complete the entire three-building project. She said the project’s start date – each complex will be handled as an individual project, with Gordon Court likely first in line – heavily depends on how quickly the architectural firm can complete its analysis.

    The funding is expected to come from a variety of sources such as state and federal monies, project-based vouchers and grants obtained by the city. Kedron said her team expects the funding streams will be modified to best fit the project’s progress.

    “That might mean using one source for demolition and another for new construction,” she said.

    City and housing officials for years have struggled to keep up with deteriorating conditions at the three complexes. Roof holes have been patched with emergency state funding, as were antiquated boilers, door frames and electric panels.

    Kedron said the massive project, which has garnered support from DOH Commissioner Seila Mosquera-Bruno, will necessitate relocating tenants as their buildings are flattened and replaced.

    By the end of the work, Kedron hopes to have added up to 30 more units to the authority’s current housing stock of 309 apartments, 209 of which are located in the three buildings slated to come down.

    “And all the units will be double the size we have now,” she said. “Instead of mostly studios, every apartment will be one-bedrooms.”

    While the monthly rent for most of the units is expected to remain less than $450, some apartments will feature higher rents.

    “That revenue will enable us to properly address upkeep and operations for years in the future, something we could not do if all the rents stayed the same,” Kedron said.

    Mayor Michael Passero said project talks began before the COVID-19 pandemic erupted but gained steam this year after Mosquera-Bruno visited one of the dilapidated complexes as part of a city tour.

    “The conclusion that was reached was these buildings are just too old and not able to be adequately renovated or remodeled,” he said. “To do that would just be putting lipstick on a pig. They need to be ripped down and replaced with better and higher quality designs.”

    j.penney@theday.com

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