MERIDEN — The city’s Planning Commission voted to recommend to the City Council that a 120-bed nursing home on Westfield Road be added to the city’s Adaptive Reuse Overlay Zone so it can potentially be converted into apartments for senior citizens.
In making its recommendation, Planning Commission members agreed with city staff that the proposal to convert Westfield Care & Rehab, 65 Westfield Road, into apartments for senior citizens fits into the objectives of the city’s Plan of Conservation and Development.
Stephan Gashi, owner of Westfield Manor Realty LLC, proposed to apply the Adaptive Reuse Overlay zone to the 5.2-acre property now zoned R-1 single family residential.
Westfield Care & Rehab was built in 1964 and has been “severely underutilized and vacant for many years,” according to city staff.
During the pandemic the site was temporarily used as a COVID-19 recovery center. Adaptive reuse is allowed by special exception and limited to properties identified on a city map.
“As Meriden’s population ages, greater diversity of housing options will enable seniors to choose appropriate options for remaining in the community,” according to the city’s Plan of Conservation and Development. “The city should consider ways to facilitate the types of development or reuse that will serve residents of all ages, abilities and income levels moving forward. Potential actions may include facilitating land use approval processes and identifying opportunities or appropriate sites for infill, adaptive reuse, and rehabilitation of existing housing stock in ways that will be accessible to the city’s existing demographics.”
Buildings must be at least 50 years old and vacant to qualify. A 100-year-old piano factory on Tremont Street was recently approved as an adaptive reuse to allow moderate and low income apartments.
Gashi proposes 40 one and two bedroom units in each of the five existing wings of the buildings at 65 Westfield Road. The five wings would remain, while the walls separating the existing small rooms would be removed to add kitchens, bathrooms, living areas and patio balconies. The areas closest to the center of the existing building could accommodate two-bedroom units.
Rents would range from $1,250 per month to $1,450 per month and include heat, hot water and electric.
The project was received favorably at a pre-application hearing before the City Council’s Economic Development Housing and Zoning Committee.
At that time, Gashi told committee members the project is designed to fit into the neighborhood and has financing in place.
He pointed to the Harbor Towers apartment building, 60 Hanover St., and a former hotel development along the shoreline as examples of other projects the group has worked on and managed.
“It’s a use that will make the building young again.” City Councilor Bruce Fontanella said at the meeting.
The adaptive reuse plan for the former nursing home now goes before the City Council.
in other business, the Planning Commission on Wednesday also approved a zone change from commercial to planned development district for 20 acres on Kensington Avenue and South Mountain Road.
The change would guide future developers interested in building on the property. The two areas in this category are the South Mountain Road area and the triangle between Interstate 91 north and Preston Avenue.
This land use designation is given to large contiguous properties that may be appropriate for site‐specific mixed‐use development, according to city staff.
The category promotes development which would have a greater degree of flexibility in terms of layout, design, and construction of planned development than is found in conventional zoning classifications.
It will permit planned mixed‐use communities comprising residential, commercial, office and service uses, with an emphasis on open space preservation.
Reporter Mary Ellen Godin can be reached at email@example.com.