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June 19, 2024

New Britain housing redevelopment wins zoning approval for 850 KW solar array

HBJ Photo | Skyler Frazer WinnDevelopment Senior Project Director Matthew Robayna speaks to New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart during a tour of 321 Ellis St.

The 154-unit affordable housing conversion of a former factory building in New Britain got a boost from the city last week with municipal officials unanimously supporting a zoning change to allow a solar energy array on the property.

New Britain’s Common Council last week voted to allow developers to construct a solar facility at 321 Ellis St., on the same lot where an affordable housing redevelopment is currently underway of the former Landers, Frary & Clark factory, which is more than 115 years old.

Developers from WinnCompanies and WinnDevelopment, the Massachusetts-based developer and housing management firm doing the housing redevelopment project, had been planning to construct the solar farm but previously approved master plans for the site dating back to 2015 reserved the land for a 20-story residential tower. The planned tower, which is separate from the affordable housing project, was removed from plans in 2019 because of the “economic feasibility of the project,” according to town officials.

With the approved zoning change earlier this month, developers can go forward with the solar farm. The array will provide 850 KW to the Eversource grid, WinnCompanies officials said, which is expected to cover the energy footprint of the redeveloped residential building and its amenities. That energy savings will be passed along to residents of the building through cheaper bills, the developer said.

The factory building at 321 Ellis St. was added to the state’s historic registry in 2022, and was previously used to manufacture electric appliances until 1965. Much of the property has sat vacant since then.

The housing redevelopment will include 79 one-bedroom units, 59 two-bedroom apartments and 16 three-bedroom units geared toward young professionals, middle-income households and fixed-income seniors earning 30%, 50%, 60% and 80% of the area median income. The property will also have fitness, community and game rooms, flex workspaces and outdoor seating areas, developers said earlier this year.

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