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April 18, 2024

Affordable housing units a key part of approval for 322-unit apartment complex in West Hartford

Contributed An artist's rendering of the proposed 322-apartment development at 1700 Asylum Ave. in West Hartford, as seen from Trout Brook Drive.

The 322-unit apartment complex approved Monday night for 1700 Asylum Ave. in West Hartford will offer a feature that appealed to all of the members of the Town Council who supported it: affordable housing.

The council voted 8-1 to approve the project, located on property at the corner of Asylum Avenue and Trout Brook Drive, which will transform a massive parking lot across the street from a former University of Connecticut branch campus on Trout Brook Drive into a four-building apartment complex. 

The application by WeHa Development Group East LLC, which owns the 23.78-acre property at 1700 Asylum Ave., sought approval for a zone change for 14.9 acres of the northern portion of the lot from the existing single-family zone to a multifamily-multistory residence district zone with a Special Development District (SDD) overlay.

The plan approved this week will erect four buildings with a total of 322 units, including 115 single-bedroom units and 207 two-bedroom units.

A key point for the council, however, as summed up by Deputy Mayor Ben Wenograd, was that 26 of the units, or 8%, will be designated as affordable housing.

“There’s a lot of focus on percentages; I really look at raw numbers,” Wenograd said during the special meeting to approve the project. “This is 26 more homes for people who otherwise might not be able to afford to move into our community, and that’s really important.”

During the five-hour public hearing on the project that preceded the special meeting, Eli Pechtold, a principal with Stamford-based Garden Homes Management Corp. that is under contract to own and operate the apartment complex, said rents would likely range around $2,000 for the single-bedroom units and $3,000 for the two-bedroom units.

That is in the ballpark for average rents in town. According to, the average monthly rent for apartments in West Hartford in 2024 ranges between $1,827 and $3,392. 

The website reported that the average rent for studio apartments is $1,827, down 5% from a year earlier, while one-bedroom rents average $2,145, down 12%. Rents for three-bedroom units, however, rose 54% from a year earlier to $3,392 per month.

By comparison, the One Park apartments at 1 Park Road in West Hartford has monthly rents ranging from $1,590 for for a studio apartment to $4,350 for a three-bedroom unit, according to its website.

Robin Pearson, an attorney and partner with Alter & Pearson LLC in Glastonbury who represents the applicants, said during the public hearing that the affordable units for the 1700 Asylum development will be available to those who make 80% or less of the area median income (AMI).

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, AMI is defined as the median household income in a given region; median means half earn more while have earn less. The AMI also varies depending on the number of persons in the household. 

For West Hartford, the AMI for a single person is $54,950; for a two-person household it is $62,800, and for a family of four it is $78,500, according to HUD.

Pechtold also said during the public hearing that the 26 affordable units, which will be a mix of one- and two-bedroom apartments, would have rents set below $2,000 a month.

In answer to a follow-up question from the Hartford Business Journal, Pearson said Thursday that specific rents will be based on “a formula that the state uses that we will use,” and that rents will also depend on what the AMI for a particular-sized unit will be at the time of occupancy.

“Everything will change dependent upon the financial situation when they actually go for COs (certificates of occupancy) to rent the units,” she said.

Town Council member Carol Blanks also supported the project in part because of the affordable units it will offer.

“I think that we need to be a little more open and embrace those who want to come to town and be able to provide them with a housing stock that’s affordable,” she said.

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