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    Saturday, July 20, 2024

    Updated plan for Gold Star Highway properties calls for 390 apartments

    This updated concept plan shows 390 apartments are proposed for Gold Star Highway (courtesy of the Town of Groton)

    Groton ― An updated plan for the town-owned 517 & 529 Gold Star Highway properties, along with adjacent privately-owned parcels, calls for 390 apartments, housed within five, five-story buildings, and amenities that include a clubhouse and pool.

    The Town Council at its Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday evening approved the updated concept plan and a one-year extension to the option agreement, which was set to expire in September.

    The Town Council is slated to take a final vote on July 2.

    The previous concept plan approved by the council envisioned about 300 apartments within four, four-story buildings.

    At the town’s request, the new plan also realigns the proposed development’s entrance with a signalized intersection at Gold Star Highway and Toll Gate Road.

    New multifamily housing developer

    Jon Reiner, the town’s director of planning and development services, said this week that in 2019, the town started working with PJ&A LLC as the preferred developer for the town-owned properties.

    He said the properties, which have a lot of ledge and are expensive to develop, were once part of a larger development proposal 10 to 15 years ago that did not come to fruition, and the town had acquired them through foreclosure.

    “We’re just eager to get it back on the tax rolls since the town foreclosed on the property in 2015,” said Paige Bronk, the town’s economic and community development manager.

    Attorney William R. Sweeney wrote in a May letter to the town that over the last several years, PJ&A has worked with several multifamily developers to design and permit the proposed apartment project.

    “Due primarily to exceptional sitework costs as well as other related engineering challenges, these efforts have been unsuccessful to date,” Sweeney wrote.

    Recently, PJ&A entered into an agreement with Orr Partners, a Virginia-based developer. Orr Partners has developed about 5,000 multifamily units in the eastern part of the country. Orr Partners has an office in Groton and has overseen the construction of facilities for Electric Boat, according to the letter from Sweeney.

    The Town Council at a Committee of the Whole meeting earlier this month approved assigning the option agreement for sale of the town-owned property to Orr Partners, Reiner said.

    Reiner and Bronk said two privately owned parcels, which are almost six acres in total and which are adjacent to the 11.75-acre town-owned properties, are part of the redevelopment proposal. The privately-owned properties, the former Shetucket Plumbing site and a parcel adjacent to it, will help align the development entrance with the existing intersection with a signal light.

    Market-rate apartments

    Sweeney told the Council on Tuesday that the five stories with the additional units are needed to offset the cost of the additional rock removal and the realignment of the entrance.

    He said the new concept plan also has a smaller development footprint, and there is a larger buffer between the development and Avalonia Land Conservancy land to the south.

    Reiner said the proposal will help get more more housing built, get properties back on the tax rolls and would be a good neighbor for Avalonia.

    Sweeney said the apartments will be rented at market rates. He said the rents will probably be a little more than $2,000 for two-bedroom units and a little less for one-bedroom units and studios.

    During the review, councilors asked questions and said the project would help with the housing shortage, but asked the developer to consider implementing environmentally friendly features such as solar panels, adding an affordable housing component and building a playground and dog park.

    Sweeney said the next step is to prepare plans to submit to the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission, and then to apply for a state traffic permit.

    Sweeney said the project will be built in phases over two years and units are currently anticipated to be occupied in the spring of 2028.


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