May 9, 2014
Deal Watch Today

With Pearl St. redo near, Team Pennrose busy in CT
Meriden officials have selected Pennrose to redevelop the half-century old Mills Memorial housing complex, a part of which is pictured here.
Submitted rendering
A conceptual rendering of the Mills Memorial redevelopment
Submitted rendering
A rendering of Pennrose's plans for 111 Pearl St. in Hartford

The Philadelphia developer eager to convert an empty pair of downtown Hartford mid-rises into apartments is working with the city of Meriden to redevelop its aging public-housing complex in Meriden's city center, officials say.

Meantime, Tim Henkel, senior vice president for Pennrose Properties LLC, and one of Pennrose's three Connecticut partners, Sanford Cloud Jr., say they are closing in on obtaining the $41 million in state and private financing to transform 101-111 Pearl St. into more than 200 apartments. The project pricetag is around $43 million.

Wethersfield developer Martin J. Kenny and Hartford parking investor Alan Lazowski, too, are partners. Operating as Lewis and Pearl Street Ventures LLC, the quartet bought the building pair from the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority.

Cloud said the partnership now estimates interior remediation of hazardous materials, demolition and final construction could begin later this year, with completion in late 2015 or early 2016. They had projected work might get underway this spring.

"That's our best guess right now, assuming we get financing wrapped up in the next few months,'' Cloud said Thursday, following the partnership's grand opening of The Jefferson senior housing complex in New Britain. That 70-unit, $14 million project included state funding and tax credits, as well.

In Meriden, City Manager Larry Kendzior confirmed Friday that Pennrose and the city were recently chosen by the city housing authority to redevelop its 140-unit Mills Memorial housing complex at 144 Pratt St. Opened a half-century ago, Mills consists of a pair of seven- and eight-story high-rises, and three low-rise buildings that combined house some 500 low-income residents.

Precisely what will replace them on the site is still to be determined, city and Pennrose officials say. The site currently is zoned for a maximum 220 apartment units, Kendzior said.

"We expect to demolish the structures,'' he said, adding he's hopeful that will commence in the next two years.

Meriden also is preparing to issue a request for proposals, inviting developers inside and outside Connecticut to submit ideas to team with the city in redeveloping nine public parcels into another 400 to 500 apartments, Kendzior said. He didn't elaborate.

If Mills is re-envisioned, it would be the first major development in the city's center since the 1980s, the city manager said.

To get there, Meriden is tapping a $500,000 federal planning grant to cover design schemes and other pre-development requirements, Kendzior said. The town also got a $200,000 state brownfield remediation grant to assess potential toxic substances in or around Mills' buildings.

Presently, Branford's Westmount Development Group is getting underway with construction of a 63-unit affordable apartment complex at 24 Colony St., across from the site of the city's proposed new rail station.

The apartments, with 11,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor, will wrap a 273-slot parking garage that rail commuters will use, Kendzior said. The state is doing the rail station.

Financing for the $30 million project, including garage, is a combination of state and federal housing tax credits, plus funds through the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority and state Housing Department, he said.

Finally, the city has broken ground on the $13.5 million reclamation of the former The Hub shopping mall site into a 14-acre city park, Kendzior said. Three acres are reserved for commercial development.

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