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December 14, 2023

$30M Windsor Center mixed-use TOD project launched

Hanna Snyder Gambini Greg Vaca, at right, speaks at the launch of his Grava Properties' Founders Plaza project in Windsor, along with Gov. Ned Lamont, and Matthew Pugliese of the DECD.

Town and state officials on Wednesday celebrated the launch of the Windsor Center Plaza project, a new transit-oriented, mixed-use residential development in the heart of downtown Windsor.

Gregory Vaca, of Grava Properties, ceremoniously broke ground along with Gov. Ned Lamont and other state and local officials on the $30 million Founders Square project that will bring 106 apartments and 12,000 square feet of new retail space to the center of Windsor near the train station.

Phase one calls for 40 apartments in the three-story South building, including 12 studios and 28 one-bedrooms; and 5,800 square feet of new retail space divided into four or five storefronts, forming a new street wall on Poquonock Avenue. 

Phase one also includes the renovation of the existing North building into a three-story apartment complex with 30 units and community space. The existing 5,700 square feet of retail space in that existing building will remain.

Phase two includes demolition of an existing one-story building along Prospect Street and construction of a new three-story apartment complex known as the West building, with 36 apartments, all a mix of studios and one-bedrooms. 

The project won a $3.2 million Communities Challenge grant from the state Department of Economic and Community Development, and a $250,000 town grant helped fund a TOD planning study.

The grant and a credit enhancement agreement with the town require 20% of the project’s apartments to be affordable, workforce housing, at 80% of the area median income.

The 10-year agreement calls for a 100% tax rebate the first four years, decreasing incrementally each year.

DECD Executive Director of Community Development Matthew J. Pugliese called  this plan “the ideal Communities Challenge project,” combining housing and commercial space right in the heart of downtown, a stone’s throw from the train station, creating not just a place to live, but a vibrant, livable community.

Windsor state Rep. Douglas McCrory praised Vaca for not only his vision of responsible development, but for listening to the residents of Windsor and developing a project in line with their needs and wants.

Windsor Mayor Nuchette Black-Burke said this was a long-sought after goal for redeveloping the town center, and a great example of a public-private partnership, giving a nod to Windsor Federal bank for financing the project, and the state General Assembly for supporting a land conveyance for part of the project site. 

Lamont praised Vaca’s vision for restoring the town center to how many Connecticut communities used to look before housing was demolished to build shopping plazas and parking lots.

The rail component along with the much-needed housing fits into the bigger picture for Connecticut as the state “doubles down on rail service,” Lamont said, providing more frequent rail service connecting towns to each other and metro areas like Hartford and Boston, fueled by more housing.

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