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July 12, 2021

Housing nonprofit aims to raze, rebuild Hartford’s MLK Apts.

CoStar Part of the Martin Luther King Apartments on Van Block Avenue in Hartford. The owner aims to raze and rebuild the complex anew.

The nonprofit owner of a 64-apartment complex in Hartford’s Charter Oak neighborhood is seeking approvals to demolish the nine buildings at the site and rebuild a denser multifamily development with more than double the number of units.

Sheldon Oak Central, a Hartford-based community development corporation that has developed or holds ownership stakes in a dozen multifamily properties in the city, is partnering with Simsbury's Vesta Corp. to rebuild the 52-year-old Martin Luther King Apartments at 79 Van Block Ave.

Sheldon Oak Executive Director Emily Wolfe said Monday that the project would cost an estimated $50 million. Sheldon Oak has already received $4 million in financing from the state Bond Commission, and is pursuing a $30 million loan from the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority, as well as tax credit financing. 

Crosskey Architects
The MLK Apartments would have more buildings and more than double the number of rental units when rebuilt.

The existing buildings at MLK, built in 1969, are laid out in a zig-zag pattern on 7.3 acres. Plans for the reconstructed complex, filed recently with Hartford’s Planning & Zoning Commission, show 161 apartment units. Of those, 90 would be market rate, 30 would be low for-income residents and the remainder would cater to a range of income levels in between, Wolfe said. 

The proposed complex is spread across 15 proposed new buildings in a new configuration, with one large L-shaped building at the corner of Van Block Avenue and Luis Ayala Lane and inner and outer rings of smaller buildings located closer to Osten Boulevard and Stonington Street. 

Wolfe said the developers hope to break ground in early 2022. She residents would be offered relocation benefits, and that any resident who wishes to return to the rebuilt MLK Apartments when construction is complete will be able to do so.

The MLK Apartments are located near Colt Gateway, Coltsville National Historical Park and Dillon Stadium.

Representatives of Sheldon Oak are scheduled to appear before the P&Z commission on Tuesday evening for a public hearing on its requested zoning change and proposed master plan. 

This story has been updated to include additional information from Sheldon Oak.

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