New Haven Register (Sunday) (New Haven, CT)
Construction set to start in spring on The Wellington
MADISON — After nearly five years, construction may begin this spring on The Wellington, a planned 31-unit affordable housing development at 131 Cottage Road.
And it’s none too soon, as one of the nonprofit agencies involved is already getting calls from interested tenants.
The financing is set to be finalized for the $11 million project and a general contractor, Haynes Construction of Seymour, has been hired. The architects are Schadler Selnau Associates of Farmington.
Two nonprofit agencies, Hope Partnership Inc. of Madison and the Caleb Group of Boston, the majority owner, are overseeing the project, from garnering financing to construction.
“Right now we are working towards closing on all of our financing,” said Karla Lindquist, executive director of Hope Partnership. “The goal right now is to have construction begin in the spring.”
Called a mixed-income development with some higher-end, market-rate units, rent will be charged on a sliding scale based on 30 percent of the tenant’s qualifying income for each tier. Unit sizes will vary, from 600 square feet to 1,145 square feet for onebedroom units, and twobedroom units from 721 square feet to 1,207 square feet.
The property will have seven units available for households with incomes up to 25 percent of the area median income, 13 units at 50 percent AMI, four at 60 percent AMI and seven market-rate units. The
AMI for Madison is $99,700, according to HUD calculations for 2022.
According to the Caleb Group, financing for the project comes from a mix of tax credits, loans and grants from federal and state agencies:
• Federal low income tax credits, which equals $5.3 million in equity.
• $2.7 million Connecticut Department of Housing loan.
• Department of Housing National Trust funds of $1.1 million.
• Connecticut Housing Financing Authority grant for $500,000.
• $650,000 from the Federal Housing Finance Agency Affordable Housing and Community Investment Program.
• $230,000 energy rebate.
• $2 million mortgage from Guilford Savings Bank, according to the Caleb Group.
Hope Partnership bought the land and buildings as an unfinished multifamily development in 2018. The Caleb Group joined the effort in 2020.
On the 2.6 -acre site, there is an existing building with four occupied townhouse units, constructed in 2016. Also on the property is the 1808 Henry Josiah Meigs house and barn that will be turned into four one-bedroom apartments. Some of the original interior will be preserved along with the exterior of the historic building.
The new units will be designed to look like typical the “suburban townhouse style” and “similar to what’s already there,” Lindquist said.
As far as the antique structure, Lindquist said, “I think one of the things that’s nice is that we’re keeping the existing building that was on the parcel. And that sort of maintains some history and some of the visual fabric of the town.”
“I think a lot of folks who are from a town like to see … those existing landmarks or those existing buildings kept when possible,” she said.
Lindquist, who is new to Hope Partnership, said her board reported that working with the town was straightforward and “was super smooth.”
The mixed-income approach to an affordable housing development is “fairly common when you have when you have mostly or all affordable, because it is usually required by lenders to have deeply affordable units,” she said.
Lindquist added, “then, obviously, the project becomes financially viable when you balance that with some of the higher end” units.
Once it’s built and tenants are selected, the nonprofit groups will turn it over to a management group.
Its location will be a big draw for the project, she said.
“It’s a fantastic location, it’s right across from Hammonasset. There’s part of the nature preserve that is over there,” she noted. Another big plus is that it is right off Route 1. Caleb has cited the project’s proximity to schools, shopping, employment opportunities and the fact its on the bus line and near Interstate 95.
“I think Madison is obviously a high-opportunity municipality in in Connecticut. And so it’s great to have some affordable units in a town like Madison,” Lindquist said.
She noted that Madison, like other shoreline towns, has a lack of affordable housing.
“What we see in most of the small towns along the shoreline and some of the interior towns in Middlesex County, is that there’s really a disproportion between the average household size, which is usually between one to two people … and then the average house size, or housing unit size, which is usually three to four bedrooms,” Lindquist said.
“And so having smaller units in this case, which are mostly affordable, is really important so that there’s a diversity of housing,” she continued.
“So you can really get people into homes that are appropriate for their needs and their household size and where they’re in their life.”
Prospective tenants already have expressed interest in The Wellington and Lindquist hopes for more inquiries as the project nears completion.
“We hope we get about two to five inquiries a week for folks looking for housing,” she said.
At Hope Partnership, she said, “I would say about 50 percent are people calling to ask about Madison at Wellington and ask if they can get on the wait list.” However, Hope Partnership won’t put together a wait list until “construction is definitely underway, so it will still be several months before we do that.”
For further updates on the development, visit https://www.hope-ct.org.
“I think a lot of folks who are from a town like to see … those existing landmarks or those existing buildings kept when possible.” Karla Lindquist, executive director of Hope Partnership