New London ― Gov. Ned Lamont Friday walked the dilapidated grounds of the Garfield Mill complex, looked out into the waterfront from a future luxury apartment on Bank Street and stood in a finished one-bedroom apartment along Howard Street.
Lamont toured the multiple housing development sites, totaling about 416 units, across the city to see for himself the housing boom taking place here.
“More housing is being developed than ever before,” Lamont said. “People want to move to New London.”
He was joined by Mayor Michael Passero and the city’s Director of Economic Development and Planning Felix Reyes, among others.
Passero emphasized throughout the tour that developers in the city are building for all economic sectors.
The tour started at the Garfield Mill Complex at 90 Garfield Ave. which will be redeveloped by Litchfield-based Park Lane Group into 86 units. Passero said 20% of the units will be affordable and the rest will be workforce housing.
Workforce housing is for households earning between 60% and 120% of the area median income and target middle-income workers such as police officers, teachers and military members. A household of four in New London at 60% AMI earns $67,560 and at 120% AMI earns $123,240 based on 2022 HUD median incomes.
Reyes said renters will have to qualify for the affordable units which is generally for those earning 80% of the AMI or less. He said the remediation of the building has been going on for two months and will continue before construction can start. The state has contributed $1 million towards the remediation.
Lamont was then lead to 123 Bank St. to one of three neighboring buildings on Bank Street that will make up The Riverbank, a development of 32 luxury loft apartments and commercial space.
There Passero explained to the governor how he and Reyes sought developers from Boston and other places to get more housing in the city. Passero said there was a misconception from developers that rents in the area could not support development, based on census data. He said development companies like RJ Development + Advisors saw the potential to build with the influx of hiring from Electric Boat.
“New London has become a job center,” Reyes said. “Jobs attract people and people are coming as you see with the housing boom.”
Barry Levine, chair of the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission, was invited to join the tour and saw projects he once approved in their various stages of development.
“One of the very few pleasures of serving for any commission is seeing the fruits of your efforts appear,” Levine said.
Lamont also got to see the first vertical paneling go up across the street at 174 Bank St. where a five-story, 30-unit modular apartment is being built from the ground up. Reyes said the development is the first its kind by New York-based company Vessel Technologies in the state.
Reyes said unlike conventional development, the building material is pre-fabricated which allows it to be built much quicker and in a sustainable fashion. He said construction takes three to six months as opposed to two years or more.
Lamont was in disbelief when Reyes said the development would be ready sometime by the end of the summer.
Neil Rubler, founder and CEO of Vessel Technologies, was present visiting the site. He said he was drawn to building in New London after he met Passero and Reyes who share his commitment to expand the supply of housing.
Rubler said Vessel’s mission is to supply housing priced at attainable prices. He said the unit prices would be in the range of $1,600 a month as opposed to other developments seeking $2,000 or more for a one-bedroom.
Lamont and his entourage then headed to The Beam, a 203-unit apartment complex, at 221 Howard St. The building, nearing completion and already housing some tenants, was developed by RJ Development. A studio apartment there costs $1,500 a month or less.
Reyes said The Beam had 750 applicants.
Passero said the city has never had this type of inventory and having it would mean EB workers and others would not be taking more affordable units that others could use.
At the end of his tour, Lamont stood briefly outside a building in the middle of construction at 433 Bayonet St. which will be 28 mixed-income apartments. Nine will be leased at market-rate rents while the rest are a mix of varying rents based on income. Six units will be set aside for individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism.
Eastern Connecticut Housing Opportunities is leading its development and will construct a second building with 36 units.