Construction of affordable housing on Center Street in Wallingford proceeding

WALLINGFORD — Work is finally underway at the former Simpson School on seven affordable housing units for those 55 and older.

In 2005, the town sold the school property, 701 Center St., to LaRosa Building Group for $100,000. LaRosa proposed to build condominiums for those 55 and older.

As a condition of the sale, the town stipulated that 30 percent be designated as affordable housing. Plans for the project were approved in 2006.

While 18 market-rate condominiums have been completed, the construction of affordable units has been delayed for several years.

Town Council Chairman Vincent Cervoni said he was excited to drive by Monday afternoon and see work had started.

“I’m thrilled,” Cervoni said. “It has been a grassy field for too long. This is good for Wallingford and good for the view on Center Street.”

Robert LaRosa, chief executive of LaRosa Building Group, couldn’t be reached for comment Monday.

LaRosa received approval from the Planning and Zoning Commission last September to reduce the number of affordable units from ten to seven.

Affordable units are defined as when someone earning 80 percent or less of the area median household income pays 30 percent or less of his or her annual household income toward housing. Wallingford’s median household income in 2009 was $71,117.

Cervoni said the troubled economy held up the project. Last August, Gennaro Martorelli, an attorney representing LaRosa, said financing for the project would be available if the number of affordable units is reduced.

In March, the Planning and Zoning Commission approved a change reducing the size of the seven units by about 3,000-square-feet.

The size of each unit was reduced by moving the second bedroom of each to the second floor.

Previously the units only had a single floor.

As a result, each unit will have a larger yard and longer driveway. Access to the units is limited to Martin Avenue.

A building permit for the project was approved on June 10. According to the permit, the estimated cost of the project is $347,000. (203) 317-2224 Twitter: @Andyragz

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