Condos poised to be first development in Fort Trumbull area

New London — A proposed Howard Street condominium complex is poised to become the first new construction in the Fort Trumbull Municipal Development area.

A shovel could be in the ground by spring.

The City Council on Monday approved a development agreement between the Renaissance City Development Association and New London County Realty, the developers of Shipway 221, which is a phased project that could eventually bring 180 units to land that has sat vacant and not generated any tax revenue for more than 15 years.

“It’s literally taken 15 years to get to a point where these parcels are ready for development,” said RCDA Executive Director Peter Davis.

Following months of negotiations, the contract waiting to be signed by Mayor Michael Passero represents a give-and-take between the developer and the RCDA. It includes arrangements for a land swap between the developers and Lawrence + Memorial Hospital.

The project manager for the project is Anthony Silvestri, with financing from the Tagliatela family, who have worked together on both the City Flats initiative and Harbour Towers project.

Silvestri said the development will stand out because of the number of amenities and will be an attractive option to the increasing number of Electric Boat employees in the area. The first planned four-story building would house 70 units with a mix of condominium sizes and an average price of slightly more than $200,000.

New London County Realty will pay the RCDA $208,000 for the land, which has an assessed value of $644,000.

Davis said that as part of the negotiated agreement, the RCDA agreed to drop the sales price in exchange for the developers picking up $515,000 of the environmental cleanup fees needed to develop the land, which used to be home to a solid waste landfill.

The balance of the assessed value, $129,000, coupled with $79,000 in development fees, leads to a total of $208,000.

Davis said the RCDA has already used a $400,000 federal grant to partially clean up the site and would have had to pay for additional environmental costs.

“We’d have to put that investment into the property one way or the other. Why not be fair about it?” Davis said.

The condominium proposal is be located on parcels 5C-1 and 5C-2, which total about 5.4 acres. A portion of the property used to be home to Hughie's Restaurant, a New London institution at 221 Howard St.

The RCDA’s predecessor, New London Development Corp., had paid former Hughie's owner Hugh Devlin Jr. $1.1 million to take control of the property, along with others for a road-widening project that was part of the redevelopment of the Fort Trumbull area.

The contract gives the developers an 18-month due diligence period, along with the possibility of a six-month extension, for the start of construction.

“The impression I get from them is they are going to move much quicker than that,” Davis said. “The market is here. I expect them to be breaking ground by next spring.”

The contract also calls for the developer to pay taxes on the property starting next year with or without the start of construction. The first phase of the project is estimated to cost about $9.5 million and is envisioned as one of potentially three buildings with a total value of roughly $25 million to $30 million.

The project is situated in a corridor promising more residential developments as a result of an increase in nearby Electric Boat employees. A city-owned parcel at the corner of Bank and Howard streets is the site of a proposed 90-unit apartment complex in a separate agreement negotiated by the RCDA with A.R. Building Co.

The land swap includes conveyance of two small parcels of land bisecting the planned condominium complex that are now owned by L+M in exchange for an RCDA-owned property next to L+M’s office building. L+M will be able to fit an additional 15 to 20 new parking spots for the medical offices on the land it will receive.

g.smith@theday.com

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