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December 20, 2022

Major Greater Hartford, CT development projects get boost from new state funding 

HBJ PHOTO | STEVE LASCHEVER Mark Lovley (left) and Anthony Valenti, partners in Newport Realty Group, in front of the first building of what will become the 76-apartment, mixed-use “Steele Center” development near Berlin’s passenger rail station.

Gov. Ned Lamont on Tuesday announced $36.5 million in grants for eight economic development projects, including $5.5 million to help build 57 apartments in Hartford and $5.3 million to help transform a blighted factory in Torrington into a marketplace and offices.

“We created this grant program as a component of our efforts to spur economic growth and the creation of new jobs as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Lamont said. “Each of these approved state grants are going toward projects that improve the livability and quality of life in communities and will make these neighborhoods even more attractive for private investments and opportunities for residents.”

This latest round of Connecticut Communities Challenge grants will leverage approximately $143.5 million worth of investment from other sources for projects that fit the state program’s goals of supporting livability, vibrancy and equity.  

The $100 million grant program aims to create approximately 3,000 jobs and is a pillar of Lamont’s statewide economic development strategy. The state aims to allocate about half of funding to projects in distressed municipalities.

The first round of challenge grants, announced in April, saw $45 million allocated to 12 projects.

This latest round includes:

  • $1.56 million toward Newport Realty Group’s $3.6 million effort to build 10 mixed-income apartments in a building across from the train station in Berlin. 

Half of the units will be allocated as affordable, for families making less than 80% of area median income. 

Additional organizations, including the Meriden-New Britain-Berlin YMCA, Kensington Volunteer Fire Department, Berlin Board of Education, Cromwell Board of Education and Berlin Land Trust are working to provide pedestrian access and open space walking trails nearby. 
Newport Realty principals Mark Lovley and Anthony Valenti have already completed a 16-unit apartment building with first-floor restaurant space as part of the ongoing Steele Center development, which will contain 60 apartments and more than 80,000 square feet of commercial space in several buildings.

  • A $5.5 million grant to help developer Carlos Mouta’s $16.72 million construction of a new 57-unit apartment building (30% of which would be allocated to affordable rate tenants), with first-floor commercial space on a vacant lot at 17-35 Bartholomew Ave., in the city’s Parkville neighborhood. 

The project is located near one of the state-run CTfastrak bus stations.

A rendering of developer Carlos Mouta’s planned $16.72 million, 57-unit apartment building to be built on a vacant lot at 17-35 Bartholomew Ave., in Hartford’s Parkville neighborhood.
  • A $6 million grant toward a $17.3 million project providing infrastructure and site improvements to an underutilized property along Rubber Avenue in Naugatuck, just 500 feet from the borough’s downtown green and adjacent to a planned train station. 

The site is slated for development of 180 apartments and 7,320 square feet of commercial space under affordable housing developer Pennrose LLC.

  • A $4 million grant toward developer Amit Lakhotia’s $17.53 million effort to transform a 52-year-old, 48,475-square foot brick office building at 102 West Main St., in New Britain, into 79 apartments (20% of which will be affordable), with restaurant space on the street level and rooftop. \

This project is within a quarter-mile of a CTfastrak station. Lakhotia paid $1.6 million for the building and a nearby quarter-acre paved lot in February.

  • $5.27 million toward a $32.24 million project transforming a former factory along Water and Church streets in Torrington into a marketplace and offices. The city plans the project, which includes brownfield cleanup, to work in concert with extension of its greenway, improved bus access, repair of a train platform and a new YMCA outdoor recreation facility. 

Project partners include the city, private developers, YMCA, Water Street Healthcare Group LLC and Naugatuck Railroad.

  • $2.7 million toward a $4.1-million project providing infrastructure improvements to support a 247-unit housing development in downtown Stamford. Twenty-three of the units will be affordable. 

The improvements include stormwater relocation, pedestrian safety improvements, along with park and public space upgrades.

  • $3 million to help Fairfield pay for a $10-million project replacing a 2,800-foot section of sewer main that supports 60% of the town. This is meant to enable development of at least 357 new housing units (20% of which will be affordable), a 118-room hotel, 70,000 square feet of office space and 40,000 square feet of retail. 
  • $8.46 million to help cover the $81.36 million cost of multiple developments along Groton’s riverfront yielding 256 apartments, including 51 set aside at affordable rents. 

Groton is partnering with its housing authority and Rogers Development LLC in these projects, which will also deliver various infrastructure improvements, including bikeways, a pedestrian bridge and new public recreation space.

“These projects will bring foot traffic, mixed-use environments and a significant number of new housing units to eight Connecticut communities,” DECD Deputy Commissioner Alexandra Daum said. “These investments are focused on infill opportunities in downtown and main street areas with existing centers of development and activity. In addition to increasing the livability of our communities, stimulating transit-oriented development is another key goal of this program. Many of the awards under this second round will go to projects located within a quick walk from transit options, helping to get Connecticut residents off the roads and onto our excellent transit system.”


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