By Leigh Tauss
MERIDEN — The city’s Zoning Board of Appeals granted a variance for Meriden Commons II, the second phase of a mixed-income housing complex next to the Meriden Green. The project still requires approval from planning staff, but the developer estimates an early 2018 groundbreaking.
The city has entered into a development agreement with Philadelphia-based Pennrose Properties for the $26 million project, which will add 76 apartments downtown. Sixty-one units are considered affordable, with the remaining 15 units rented at market rate.
The building is planned for the corner of State and Park streets. A variance allows for one less entrance into the apartment building where normally an entrance is required every 75 feet.
A single entrance to the building is better for security purposes, said Pennrose Regional Vice President Charlie Adams.
“The reason that we’ve got only one door there is for security purposes,” Adams said. “If we had to comply with the strict requirements of every 75 feet we would have to put a door within another group of units. It would be another point of entry that would not be as secure.”
Associate City Planner Paul Dickson said the application fits with the spirit of the regulations. Strict adherence to the regulations would require the second entrance be placed in a space planned for landscaping and only provide access to a few units.
“When it was crafted, the (transit-oriented district) regulations, I don’t think they foresaw this kind of building sitting on a corner,” Dickson said. “It wasn’t the intention of the regulation to really force an entrance upon a public square.”
The ZBA voted to allow the variance Tuesday night.
Work is expected to begin in early 2018 just as work on Meriden Commons I finishes. Construction of project’s second phase is expected to take 14 months.
”We’re excited we’re making good progress,” Adams said. “I think it’s going to be a really pretty attractive building for the community.”
Pennrose said they will be accepting applications to lease Meriden Commons I soon. Commercial space on the first floor of phase I and II is also available, Adams said.