Groundbreaking ceremony held for Meriden Commons in city’s downtown

Groundbreaking ceremony held for Meriden Commons in city’s downtown

Record-Journal


MERIDEN — City and state officials gathered on the Meriden Green Monday for a groundbreaking ceremony as construction crews worked on the housing and commercial complex a few hundred feet away.

“It’s a groundbreaking ceremony, but as you can see ground has already been broken,” said Charlie Adams, regional vice president for Pennrose Properties, the project developer.

Work on the $14.5 million complex at 177 State St., known as Meriden Commons I, began last month. Pennrose is partnering with the city to build 76 apartments with 5,000 square feet of commercial space. Eighty percent of the units are considered Section 8 or affordable, with 15 apartments to be rented at market rate. Apartments will be a mix of one, two and three bedrooms.

Construction is expected to take about a year.

The project is financed through private investment, low-income housing tax credits and $5.7 million from the state Department of Housing.

Several dozen people gathered under the amphitheater at the Meriden Green in the blistering sun for the ceremony.

Mayor Kevin Scarpati said the occasion marks “another milestone in Meriden’s history.”

“For over 20 years we talked about the problems we’ve seen at the Mills projects and fortunately today marks day one of the redevelopment of that site,” Scarpati said. “Thank you for believing in Meriden because it truly is inspiring to see all that Meriden has to offer and what will be coming in the year ahead.”

The Mills public housing complex is next to the new development.

State Rep. Hilda Santiago, D-Meriden, shared statistics with the crowd from a recent report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

“A full-time worker in the U.S. must earn $21.21 per hour to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment and $17.14 to afford a one-bedroom apartment,” Santiago said. “In my district, people don’t make that kind of money, so affordable housing is what we can afford.”

Department of Housing Commissioner Evonne Klein talked about the work downtown since Meriden Commons was first discussed.

“I remember when we met four years ago with the then mayor and talked about all the plans and all the possibilities ... it’s great to see that they are underway,” Klein said. “When we look at a development like this here at Meriden Commons I’m reminded about how important the work we do in the department is.”

Other speakers included Karl Kilduff, Connecticut Housing Finance Authority executive director; Suzanne Piacentini, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development field office director; Cornelius Ivers, Meriden Housing Authority chairman; and Sanford Cloud Jr., the Cloud Co. CEO.

City Economic Development Director Juliet Burdelski said the development will allow for the demolition of the Mills apartments, which could begin in the fall if the Meriden Housing Authority is able to relocate the remaining tenants. A $2 million state grant has been secured for the demolition of the five buildings.

“Without the development and relocation plan the demolition would have never been approved,” Burdelski noted. “It’s the end of an era. It’s good for the downtown.”

Pennrose has already received low-income housing tax credits and an additional $5.7 million from the Department of Housing for Meriden Commons II, a four-story, 75-unit complex estimated to cost $15 million. The project will be 80 percent affordable or Section 8. The Meriden Housing Authority and Pennrose hope to close on the project by early 2018.

After the ceremony, Pennrose, city and state officials made their way across the street to pose with golden shovels on the construction site.

ltauss@record-journal.com 203-317-2231 Twitter: @LeighTaussRJ


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