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New London council approves developer for Parcel J

New London — The City Council on Monday unanimously selected Pennsylvania-based A.R. Building Co. as the prime developer for long-vacant land at the corner of Bank and Howard streets.

A.R. Building has a preliminary plan to build a $12.5 million, 90-unit apartment complex with a ground level retail space on the 2.5 acres known as Parcel J.

While it’s a site where proposals have come and gone in the past, staff from the city’s Office of Development and Planning and the Renaissance City Development Association, which vetted the company, have referred to the developers as the “real deal,” with a proven track record.

The company recently broke ground on a $14 million 104-unit complex on Mansfield Road without the aid of outside investors and is developing a 147-unit complex near the Naval Submarine Base in Groton. Jason Kambitsis, A.R.’s vice president of development and acquisitions, called A.R. “a little different from other companies,” in part because they own, build and manage their units.

A.R. had at one time proposed but later abandoned plans for a 104-unit, $18.4 million residential development in the Fort Trumbull neighborhood.

Council approval for the prime developer status, along with an amended agreement with RCDA is just one of several hurdles that A.R. Building will face.

A committee composed of RCDA and ODP staff is expected to spend the next several months hammering out a development agreement to be presented to the council for approval at a later date. A site plan would also need approval from the Planning and Zoning Commission.

The proposed cost for Parcel J is $650,000 with an estimated tax revenue of $250,000 for the city.

Kambitsis said the company would perform soil tests at the site to ensure no costly remediation is needed that could lead to purchase price negotiations. He also said the company would reserve the right to convert the more than 9,000 square feet of retail space into residential units if a tenant is not secured within the first two years after the development.

Conceptual plans for the complex show a four-story building with a mix of studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments with an average monthly rent of $1,200, aimed in part at the surge of engineers now working at nearby Electric Boat. The plans also call for a pedestrian-friendly area at the corner of Bank and Howard streets, green space fronting Bank Street and parking — 168 spaces — facing an adjacent office complex.

The owners of the adjacent Shaw’s Cove 6 office complex recently exercised their right to purchase the 0.73-acre parking lot that was at one time part of Parcel J. That could prove to be an obstacle since Kambitsis said zoning regulations regarding housing density would allow just 56 units at the site at its current size.

Kambitsis said the project could be completed by 2018 if all goes smoothly.




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