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New London developer planning new condo complex on Howard Street

New London — Tony Silvestri, the project manager for several downtown projects that have transformed entire neighborhoods, now envisions a large-scale condominium project in the Shaw’s Cove area on vacant land off Howard Street.

The executive board of the Renaissance City Development Association on Thursday approved a “commitment to negotiate” with Silvestri for a mixed-use development on land known as parcels 5C-1 and 5C-2, a total of about 5.4 acres owned by the RCDA, which, along with properties at Fort Trumbull, are part of a municipal development plan.

Silvestri and his financial backer, the Tagliatela family, doing business as New London County Realty LLC, now will have exclusive negotiation rights with the RCDA as they work toward a development proposal.

Silvestri also will have access to the property to perform environmental tests on what many have called a challenging piece of property with contamination that will need to be capped with several feet of soil before any construction is started.

RCDA Executive Director Peter Davis said the developers will take on the remediation themselves. The environmental work is not something the RCDA could immediately afford on its own, he said.

Silvestri was the project manager for the $20 million, nine-story New London Harbour Towers on Bank Street and is rehabbing numerous properties in the same neighborhood as part of a City Flats development initiative. Both projects are financed by the Tagliatela family.

Silvestri called the plans for Howard Street “like nothing people in this area have seen,” a development that caters to millennials and Electric Boat employees with a full range of amenities that include rooftop barbeques, an outdoor theater, bar and lounge, pool and outdoor fire pits.

“This is going to have amenities that people are going to go, ‘You’ve got to be kidding,’” he said. “New London is very fortunate to have the Tagliatelas behind us.”

Silvestri said plans for the property have been in the works behind the scenes for more than two years, but work to investigate the environmental feasibility of the site needs to be done to find out what is feasible. He said an environmental company will be on site within a matter of weeks to start test boring for soil samples.

Conceptual plans and further details will be released at a later date, he said.

"We’ll be doing extensive testing for suitability. We don’t know until we complete those tests,” he said.

Mayor Michael Passero, who attended the RCDA meeting on Thursday, expressed his optimism in the project and the momentum of the RCDA. The agency helped facilitate a similar development proposal for the vacant Parcel J property nearby, at the corner of Howard and Bank streets.

A.R. Building Co. was chosen as prime developer for the site and is negotiating with the city and RCDA for a development agreement for a 90-unit residential complex with a retail component.

“Tony’s a great local guy and ... the fact the Tagliatela family decided to invest in New London — you couldn’t write a better script," Passero said.

Davis said the two parcels under consideration are bisected by a small piece of property at 197 Howard St. owned by L+M Hospital. The RCDA is negotiating with L+M for a possible land swap that would connect the two pieces of land in exchange for land abutting a parking lot at L+M’s office complex across the street.

Earlier this year, Silvestri was honored as the property owner of the year by the Connecticut Main Street Center for his work on City Flats to “improve a neighborhood by offering attractive housing that is also affordable...”

He also filed for Chapter 7 personal bankruptcy earlier this year, a move he said was a way to dispose of debts related to a 12-year-old lawsuit and that would not affect his current projects.

g.smith@theday.com

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