With Change at State Level, Officials Now ‘Scrambling’ To Figure Out Funding for Planned Redevelopment of Canaan Parish

Officials said Tuesday that they’re “scrambling” in the wake of a change from the state to figure out just how to finance a widely anticipated rebuilding project on the corner of Route 123 and Lakeview Avenue. Plans call for rebuilding Canaan Parish, a 60-unit Section 8 housing complex, in a single five-story structure and construction of a new, 40-unit structure of the same height that would count toward the state’s affordable housing requirement. 

Yet the project “is a little bit slowed down because right now the state has no idea as to whether or not there is actually any funding available for affordable housing,” New Canaan Housing Authority Chairman Scott Hobbs told members of the Board of Selectmen at their regular meeting. “We are also in the process of scrambling add finding out alternatives to how we can go ahead without the state funding, and there are some out there,” he said at the meeting, held in Town Hall. “We would rather follow this course and hopefully get our grant. But at the same time we started to lose faith that they are actually going to be able to come through with what we need them to do.”

Approved by the Planning & Zoning Commission last summer following weeks of discussion about early-stage renderings of the proposed new buildings, the project is a joint effort of the Housing Authority and New Canaan Neighborhoods, which owns the buildings.

Elm Street Property Owner Sues Town Over Assessment

The owner of an 8,700-square-foot commercial building on Elm Street last week filed a claim in state Superior Court appealing the town’s decision to preserve its assessment of the property from last fall. 

In its October revaluation, the town assessed the two-story structure at 111 Elm St. at $3,063,480, a figure that is “grossly excessive, disproportionate and unlawful,” according to a lawsuit filed April 18 by attorneys Gary Klein and Liam Burke of Stamford-based Carmody Torrance Sandak & Hennessey LLP. 

The property owner, a Southport-based limited liability company whose principal lives in Palm Beach, Fla., sought relief from the New Canaan Board of Assessment Appeals but that appointed body made no changes, “thereby denying the relief the Applicant requested,” according to the complaint. “The applicant is aggrieved by the decision,” it said. The property owners is seeking a reduction and to be reimbursed for any tax overpayment with interest, according to the suit. 

Town officials said during the budget season that wrapped up this month that the real estate portion of New Canaan’s Grand List—a tally of all taxable property in the town—is expected to decline by about $37.6 million following post-revaluation assessment appeals. Given New Canaan’s anticipated mill rate of 18.259, that makes for a reduction of about $672,000 in town revenue, officials said.

Owner of Four-Unit Office Building Seeks To Convert It into Four Condos

The owners of a four-unit office building in downtown New Canaan are seeking to convert those offices into residential condominiums, according to an application filed with the town. Built in 1975, the structure at 93 Cherry St. has always been used for offices. Yet in the last five years, its owners—town residents John and Alice Chen—have “had trouble finding interested tenants for any of the units,” according to an application filed with Planning & Zoning by  New Canaan-based attorney Kay Jex. “At the suggestion of several Realtors and the applicant’s architect, they would like to convert the building into residential apartments,” Jex said in the application.