New London’s Howard Street site of proposed residential developments

A grassy patch of land at one of the city’s busiest intersections that has remained vacant for several decades is in line for a major housing development.

Parcel J, at the corner of Bank and Howard streets, is the site of a proposed 90-unit apartment complex, with an estimated value of between $12 million and $15 million. The City Council this week approved the terms of a development agreement with A.R. Building Co. that is waiting to be signed later this month by Mayor Michael Passero.

Coupled with a $40 million condominium complex planned for the same stretch of Howard Street, Passero said it is “potentially transformational to the downtown,” with an infusion of people and taxes. He said A.R. Building Co. already has a proven track record in the city as it works to complete a $14 million apartment complex on Mansfield Road, the largest market-rate development in recent memory.

Preliminary plans from A.R. Building Co. call for a four-story building on about 2.5 acres with plans to use a portion of the adjoining parking lot at Shaw’s Cove 6.

Parcel J is a remnant of the Shaw’s Cove Urban Renewal Plan that was approved by the city in 1973. Proposals for the property have come and gone through the years but a recent surge in the local residential real estate market has city officials confident that the newest development proposal will succeed where others have failed.

The site is within walking distance of General Dynamics Electric Boat’s engineering facility on Pequot Avenue and to the downtown’s commercial district.

A.R. Building Co., in the latest iteration of a plan negotiated by the Renaissance City Development Association, has removed a retail component from the conceptual design and scaled back the number of efficiencies while increasing the number of one- and two-bedroom units. The entire plan will be the subject of a design review by representatives of the RCDA, City Council and Office of Development and Planning, RCDA Executive Director Peter Davis said.

While the design review is not regulatory, Davis said the development is on a highly visible corner and the city would like to ensure design elements are coordinated with its surroundings.

A.R. Building Co. has agreed to pay $650,000 to the city for the land and could go before the Planning and Zoning Commission with its plans by fall, said attorney William Sweeney, who represents the developer.

The city eventually could benefit from an estimated $250,000 in annual taxes.

Davis said the RCDA also is getting close to coming to a development agreement with the developers of Shipway 221, a $40 million condominium complex on Howard Street with the potential to become the first new construction in the Fort Trumbull Municipal Development area. It is located on about 5.4 acres known as parcels 5C-1 and 5C-2.

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

Both projects are located within the city’s Enterprise Zone, which means seven years of partial tax abatements, including the first two years in which only the value of the land is taxable.

City Councilor Don Venditto, chairman of the City Council’s Economic Development Commission, said the city stands to benefit not only from real estate taxes but also additional revenue to local businesses.

“This is a great project for the City of New London,” Venditto said. “It adds needed housing that fits a demographic of people looking to live in the city. It helps add volume to the established downtown businesses, restaurants and entertainment venues … and it adds significant taxpaying property to the grand list.”

Howard Street is also the focus of a city-contracted study by Fuss & O’Neill which is intended to explore the potential to make the stretch of roadway more pedestrian friendly with on-street parking, bicycle lanes, crosswalks and traffic lights.

New London Parking Director Carey Redd said the study was commissioned as a result of the proposed new residential developments and recommendations could be incorporated into an overall plan for the area.

By Greg Smith, The Day staff writer

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