Facelift proposed for downtown New Canaan residential units
Updated 6:09 pm, Friday, June 17, 2016
NEW CANAAN — The owners of the downtown Merritt Apartments want to demolish the four existing buildings and build four new buildings on three acres of land.
Overall, the redevelopment would include four, four-story buildings — two of which would be apartments for rent, while the other two would be condos for purchase — for a total of 123 total residences.
The proposal would also include subsurface parking for tenants, and an emphasis on green, public spaces and pedestrian friendliness.
With the proposed redevelopment, M2 is seeking a zoning change. The company wants the Merritt Apartments to be designated a Pedestrian Oriented Multi-Family Zone, “intended to add to the diversity of the housing types in New Canaan located within walking distance (less than 1,000 feet) of the Metro-North train station and downtown, and in the area that has the potential for transit and local demand for shops and services,” according to M2’s application.
“So the thought was to build rentals for those that are coming into town, or for those who have sold their houses and want to stay in town, and condos for those of us who still want to own.”
Karp said since Avalon Apartments were built more than a decade ago, there has been no redevelopment of apartments or variant housing.
In terms of the buildings, Karp said shingles, stone, clapboard and other materials used to build high-end homes in New Canaan will be used to create a sense of continuity in the development without creating identical units.
“No two buildings will be alike,” Karp said.
Should the proposed redevelopment be accepted, density in the area would nearly triple, which Karp said he knows might concern some people. But because of the decreased square footage of the proposed new residences, Karp said, the number of people in the area may not increase drastically.
“Demographically, we think it will be largely people without children. So that’s good for our merchants,” Karp said. “I think it will have a clientele that is 20- to 102-years-old.”
A parking study, Karp said, has already been completed in the area and shows no negative impact.
“One of the things people have said to me is, ‘If they let you do this, then the whole world could do it too.’ Well, we’re the only three-acre site in the apartment zone, so there are no other sites like this,” Karp said.
He said the proposed redevelopment would follow a model already being used in towns such as Greenwich and Darien. Failure to offer affordable options to rent and buy, Karp said, could hurt New Canaan’s competitiveness in the real estate market.
“Part of the importance of this is, if you have somebody who is coming to the area and you don’t offer some rentals or something that they can buy,” he said, “they’re going to go to some other community.”
The plan will first go before the New Canaan Planning and Zoning Commission on June 28.