Developer resumes construction of affordable housing at former mill in Montville
Montville ― After seven years in limbo, real estate developer Dakota Partners said it has finally gained the necessary approvals and financing that will allow it to finish restoring the historic mill site at 42 Pink Row.
With those permits in hand, Dakota Partners President Roberto Arista said the company hopes to finish the remaining 60% of the restoration work by August or early September 2024.
Waltham, Mass.-based Dakota Partners purchased the 11-acre mill site from Faria Beede Instruments Inc., a manufacturer of speedometers and gauges, for $330,000 in 2021. The 200-year-old mill complex had housed Faria Beede for more than 50 years.
Once complete, the former mill will be reopened under the name Oxoboxo Lofts, which will provide 72 studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments for people of various low-income benchmarks.
Ten percent of the apartments will be reserved for people who meet the threshold for 25% of the area median income, Arista said Thursday. The remaining 90% will be split “about evenly” between people who make 50% to 60% of the area median income, he said.
The area median income for families in the Norwich-New London area is $112,300, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“Our hope is that we finish construction expeditiously and that we create housing for (people) who need it badly,” Arista said. “As you know, there’s a crisis in this country.”
The cost for a two-bedroom apartment will be about $1,200, he said, and $1,000 for a one-bedroom, Arista said.
“With only 5% of housing considered affordable in Montville, the restoration of the former cotton and textile mill not only will provide much-needed housing options to residents who might otherwise be priced out of the area, but also will preserve the historical structure,” Dakota Partners said in its Sept. 27 news release.
Arista said the final permits ― a flood management certification and environmental remediation permits from Department of Energy and Environmental Protection ― were acquired about a week earlier, on Sept. 19, along with funding.
The total cost for the project currently stands at around $32.3 million. Dakota Partners is using state and federal historic rehabilitation tax credits, which apply to certified historic buildings such as the Pink Row site, to help with that cost.
“It has become quite expensive because of the delays,” Arista said. “We’re at about half a million dollars a unit. This cost is not only providing housing, but is cleaning up a very dirty site, environmentally. There’s a lot of benefits.”
Arista said restoration efforts to the former mill building started 2 1/2 years ago, but were halted while Dakota Partners waited to get approved for permits
“When we stopped construction, we were about 40% complete,” Arista said.
Dakota Partners is completing all restoration efforts under the guidelines of the State Historic Preservation Office and the U.S. Department of the Interior. Since it’s a historic renovation, Arista said, Dakota has to follow their rules.
Windows will be replaced with the same type, and the building’s iconic smokestack will be restored, Arista said.
Additionally, the property will boast a community clubhouse, fitness center, basketball court, playground and on-site management and residential services.
“It’ll be, I think, great for the town, and will be perfect for the people who work in the casino industry,” Arista said.
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