Photo: Arnold Gold / Hearst Connecticut Media
NEW HAVEN — New Haven’s focus on affordable housing is getting a boost with three private developments that are looking for tax abatements to make the deals work.
Two of the proposals will bring life to abandoned grassy lots in the Dixwell neighborhood, while the third will fill in a gap-toothed parcel on State Street in a transit-oriented development downtown near the State Street train station.
Beacon Communities Services LLC has proposed a 60-unit, mixed-income apartment complex for 300 State St. at the corner of Chapel Street.
The plan is to offer 12 deeply discounted affordable units to persons earning at or below 30 percent of area median income; 24 units at 50 percent AMI; 12 at 60 percent AMI and the remaining 12 units at market rate.
“This true mix of incomes will not only serve extremely low and low-income families but will work to promote economic integration and expand housing opportunities for households at every income band,” Beacon officials said in their pitch to the city. This is its first foray into building new housing, as opposed to renovating structures.
“Additionally, 20 percent of the overall units will be restricted as permanent supportive housing units serving vulnerable populations and will provide services in areas such as financial literacy programs, job education training and technology education programs,” the developer said.
The development will also include 10 percent fully accessible units for persons with mobile and sensory disabilities.
The plan is to construct a six-story building over a podium. The mix will be: 10 studios, 19 one-bedroom units, 27 2-bedroom units and 4 three-bedroom to accommodate larger households.
Two of the projects are looking to the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority for help at its fall 9 percent low-income housing tax credit round and hope that the Board of Alders will give final approvals at its meeting Nov. 5.
Beacon Communities has a 25-year history of developing and managing affordable housing in New Haven with its Hope VI project, Monterey Place and most recently the renovation of the nearby Residences at Ninth Square.
In the second development, three parcels will be put together — 340 and 316 Dixwell Ave. and 783 Orchard St. — in the Dixwell neighborhood where Beulah Land Development Corp., a well known local nonprofit, and HELP USA of New York City have proposed 69 apartments in two buildings constructed using green technology.
One will have 57 units, while the second will have 12. The developers are proposing that 55 be offered to individuals whose income is between 30 percent and 60 percent of AMI, with 14 at market rate. A total of 14 will be offered to homeless families.
It will be designed to Passive House standards and mass timber developer Jeffrey Spiritos said that will create a cleaner and more efficient building. The addition of solar panels will reduce utility costs for tenants. The two- and three-bedroom units will have outdoor balconies.
The third, separate development is a 150-unit complex to be built at Ashmun, Canal and Henry streets with ground-floor retail. A total of 50 units would be for low- and very low-income individuals. The builder is RJ Development + Advisors. The breakdown will be 10 units offered to individuals with Section 8 vouchers; 15 units for those with incomes up to 60 per cent of AMI; and 25 units for those not over 80 percent of AMI.
It is being designed by Svigals + Partners and is located next to the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail. The partners in RJ Development + Advisors are Yves-Georges A. Joseph II and Jason Rudnick.
As for tax abatement deals, each of the projects negotiated with the city’s Low Income Supportive Housing Tax Abatement Committee as explained by city Business Development Officer Clay Williams. The Beacon project came before the Tax Abatement Committee, while the other two spoke to a joint meeting of the Tax Abatement and Community Development.
The city tax deals will cover a period of 15 years after the projects have been built. All of them will pay full taxes on market-rate apartments with the reduced taxes applied to the affordable units. The Dixwell and Ashmun projects will pay $400 on each affordable unit with a 3 percent annual increase.
Beacon will pay $600 per affordable apartment with a 3 percent increase. Serena Neal-Sanjurjo, the recently retired head of the Livable City Initiative, said Beacon is paying a higher price because that is what it offered.
She said it will also be seeking some help with the $2.5 million gap it has in its funding mix. Williams said $1.5 million could be in a soft loan from the city with another $1 million from the city or others
Unlike other proposals in the past in which the city would sell land for $1, for the Ashmun development, the almost 2-acre city-owned site will be sold for $500,000, while the 316 Dixwell Ave. property will be sold for $280,000.
The alders did weigh in at the meetings with Alder Abby Roth, D-7, recommending consistent guidelines on dealing with these abatement requests, while Alder Sal DeCola, D-18, and Alder Kimberly Edwards, D-19, in favor of returning to the table to negotiate tax abatements if the developers sell the property before the 15 years are up. Alder Steve Winter, D-21, said he was happy that the Dixwell proposal will not only offer affordable housing, but it is a plus environmentally.
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