Town Council approves planning funds for Parish redevelopment
Published 10:14 am, Wednesday, March 21, 2018
NEW CANAAN — A massive renovation and expansion of the Canaan Parish apartments is still years away, but the Housing Authority is drawing $170,000 from the Affordable Housing Fund in preparation.
“The Housing Authority is working with New Canaan Neighborhoods Inc. — (a nonprofit) who manage New Canaan Parish — in order to redevelop that site taking 60 units that are outdated and modernizing all of those and adding 40,” Scott Hobbs, chairman of the New Canaan Housing Authority, said at a meeting with Town Council last Wednesday.
The Town Council approved the Housing Authority’s request for $170,000 unanimously.
Canaan Parish apartments, located at 186 Lakeview Ave., are on town-owned land leased to the New Canaan Neighborhoods Inc., who owns the apartment buildings, according to Peggy Dannemann, secretary of the nonprofit.
The $170,000 will go toward the first steps of the pre-construction phase. Stamford-based Armenta Emma Architects will be in charge of the redesign of Canaan Parish.
“We will develop site plans and go through the zoning approval process over the next three to six months,” Hobbs said. “This will require not only the architectural firm but also various specialists from landscape architects, civil engineers, soil scientists and more.”
The town’s efforts to add affordable housing units is part of the process to obtain a second 8-30g four-year moratorium.
The 8-30g law allows private developers to bypass a town’s zoning laws if they establish a certain percent of units for affordable housing. New Canaan obtained its first 8-30g moratorium last summer and the redevelopment of Canaan Parish would lead to a possible second grace period, keeping developers from overriding local zoning laws.
Dannemann said the joint venture has begun looking at ideas for the redevelopment.
“We’re looking at schematics and plans based on the terrain,” Dannemann said. “We’re looking at different designs and considering the potential addition of an elevator to help those with disabilities or the elderly.”
According to Hobbs, it will cost over $1.2 million in pre-development funds to arrive at the construction phase.
The Housing Authority draws its funds from the Affordable Housing Fund which is funded by fees on residential building permits in the town. Hobbs said that the Housing Authority regularly goes before the town boards to draw from the Affordable Housing Fund.
“We will likely need to go back to the Affordable Housing Fund within the next six months to ask for another draw for the project,” Hobbs said.
Once the site design has been drawn up, the responsible parties will present such to the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission for approval. Hobbs said it may take up to six months’ time to get those plans to the town body.
And though plans are still in the initial phases, Hobbs said that some tenants may have to be relocated once construction begins in a year or two depending on how the approval process goes. This was something Town Council member Liz Donovan addressed at the meeting last week.
“We want to be able to build one of the permanent structures and move some of the current residents to that building,” Hobbs said in an update this week. “Paying for relocation is expensive, not to mention disruptive to the residents who live there.”
The Housing Authority and New Canaan Neighborhoods Inc. would help residents throughout the redevelopment efforts.
“Our joint venture will have to pay for any relocation of the tenants during the construction and for relocating them back to the finished units. We will try to minimize relocations,” Hobbs said.