December 8, 2013 01:01AM
By Dan Brechlin
MERIDEN — In an effort to demolish the Mills Memorial Apartments, but ensure a place for displaced residents to live, the city is moving forward with purchasing a piece of land that could be a site for new housing and commercial space.
The City Council authorized City Manager Lawrence J. Kendzior this week to move forward with acquiring 177 State St., a parking lot that sits between Cedar Park and a Meriden Housing Authority-owned parking lot. The lot is owned by CSC Investments, which also owns the property across the street and north of Cross Street, 164 State St.
“There has been a pledge to replace the Mills units on a one-to-one basis, but not in the same manner,” Kendzior said of the 140-unit, five building Mills public housing complex. “We are looking at a number of different sites for relocation, including this which could be a mixed-income, mixed-use site...Combining 177 State St. and some of the housing authority property could easily be a site for about 200 housing units, plus a large square footage of commercial space.”
There is a plan to relocate 24 of the Mills units to Colony Street as part of a 63-unit development, which is dependent on funding. Like the Colony development, the mixed-use property on State Street would include a percentage of Mills replacement units.
“The acquisition of 177 State St. is essential to the overall plan to demolish the current Mills structures and provide better quality, mixed-income and mixed-use private development...” the council resolution reads.
The resolution was adopted Monday night and will be referred to the Planning Commission, which is set to meet Wednesday, Dec. 11.
In addition to Mills being in disrepair, “structurally deficient” and an “obsolete design,” Kendzior said the buildings stand within the Harbor Brook flood plain. Flood control plans call for the buildings to be removed and for the brook to be excavated in the area of the Mills buildings. The lot at 177 State St. and a section west of the Mills buildings that is being referred to as the “Mills megablock,” is removed from the flood plain.
The negotiated agreement includes a price of $225,000 for the lot, which is being paid for through a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Sustainable Communities Challenge grant. The purchase would not involve any city funds.
The closing on the property is scheduled to take place before the end of the year.
Once completed, the former property owner will still be allowed to use the lot, according to the agreement, for parking, until the site is needed. After construction, the owner would still be allowed to use up to 15 parking spaces on the site.