Texas developer pulls plan for West St. in Southington to make changes

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SOUTHINGTON — A Texas development company withdrew a plan for housing and retail space on West Street but intends to resubmit a new proposal according to town officials.

Anthony Properties is looking for town zoning changes to build a mixed-use project with 250 apartments. The company wants to build on three properties, totaling 41 acres, owned by the Tolles family located at 1303, 1193 and 1177 West St.

Brian Shiu, development director for Anthony Properties, said the company is looking to build high-end apartments that will appeal to those looking for modern living spaces. The project will also have retail space, but less than currently required by zoning regulations.

Planning officials had concerns about the density of the project, the reduction in retail space and the lack of affordable housing.

Withdrawal of plans

Company officials presented at two recent planning meetings. Their zone change request was withdrawn at a planning meeting earlier this week.

Anthony Properties has not given up on building in Southington, according to town officials.

Town Planner Maryellen Edwards said the company is looking to discuss a new plan with town leaders at a March meeting and withdrew the request to modify it.

“I have not seen a draft so I am not sure exactly what changes they will ultimately make but I know they are looking to address some of the commission comments, one of them being affordable units,” she said.

Affordable housing

Peter Santago, a commission member, asked if the project would include any affordable homes. Southington is below the state’s goal of affordable units and the addition of hundreds of market-rate apartments would only worsen the shortfall, Santago said.

Gary O’Connor, an attorney representing the company, said at a meeting last month that the addition of affordable units could be considered.

“We want to help with that problem, not increase it,” O’Connor said.

The town commissioned a state-required study on local affordable housing and planning officials are awaiting the results.

Less retail, more apartments

The Tolles’ land is in a mixed-use transition zone designed to transition from the commercial area of West Street near Interstate 84 to the more residential areas further north. Zoning regulations for the zone include building height limitations as well as a cap on the ratio of residential to retail square footage.

Anthony Properties is looking for a zone change that would allow greater density, building height and less commercial space in the mixed-use transition zone

The requested change would amend the required square footage ratio between residential and commercial from two to one to five to one. That would allow for many more apartments. It also increases the units per acre from 5 to 6.5 and allows buildings to be a maximum of four stories high.

O'Connor said demand for commercial and retail space has significantly declined. Without increased residential space, the company's $54 million plan wouldn't be feasible.

A zone change would apply to the Tolles’ land as well as another mixed use zone further north on West Street. Commission members voiced concerns about changing regulations for one zone and having those changes alter future development at the other.

jbuchanan@record-journal.com203-317-2230Twitter: @JBuchananRJ


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