Habitat for Humanity of Coastal Fairfield County’s 2020 Annual Benefit
Go back to the future with us! Dress in fancy 50’s, electric 80’s, or fun futuristic! Whichever era you choose, don’t forget your dancing shoes! Hop in the DeLorean! We’re throwing it back to pay it forward!
A widely anticipated redevelopment project along Route 123 is back on track after its architects found an alternative to state funding. Working on the Canaan Parish rebuilding project could commence as early as next summer with a federal loan, in addition to smaller grants, according to Scott Hobbs, chairman of the New Canaan Housing Authority. The volunteer agency is partnering with New Canaan Neighborhoods Inc. to rebuild Canaan Parish, a 60-unit Section 8 housing complex at New Norwalk Road and Lakeview Avenue, in a single five-story structure and to construct a new, 40-unit structure of the same height. Both buildings would count toward the state’s affordable housing requirement.
With a Federal Housing Administration loan—rather than one from the state that’s no longer offered—plans can move forward with the project, Hobbs said when asked about its status. “This complex will be very interesting in that the buildings will be big, but we were also able to maximize the green space on the property and gain the efficiencies of going ‘up’ versus going ‘out,’ ” Hobbs told NewCanaanite.com.
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.
Selectman Kit Devereaux on Tuesday morning voiced concerns about the aesthetics and appropriateness of early-stage plans for the redevelopment of a privately owned, 1979-built apartment complex on Lakeview Avenue.
Pointing to a rendering of proposed new buildings at Canaan Parish from a Stamford-based architecture firm, Devereaux said at the meeting that she “saw this illustration and I am so hoping it is not the final design and that there will be some kind of public input on design.”
“This definitely does not look like New Canaan to me,” Devereaux said during a regular meeting of the Board of Selectmen, held at Town Hall. “I am hoping it will look more like New Canaan than this.”
Officials for nearly two years have talked about whether Canaan Parish, a Section 8 complex, could be rebuilt with more density—a key toward achieving relief in the future from a state affordable housing requirement.
Early-stage plans call for the 60-unit Canaan Parish complex at Route 123 to get to about 100 total units, Housing Authority officials have said. Devereaux’s comments came as the selectmen considered—and ultimately approved by a 3-0 vote—an allocation of $125,000 toward the redevelopment project from a fund that is comprised of New Canaan Building Department fees.
She appears to refer to a June 13 meeting of the New Canaan Housing Authority, the sole publicly noticed meeting of the agency last month. Minutes from the meeting note only that a consultant “updated us the redevelopment of Canaan Parish.” She also referred to renderings from Amenta Emma Architects. Housing Authority Commissioner Bernard Simpkin, secretary of the agency’s board, said the rebuilding project is “a matter of getting the proper density and the proper area without it being over-dense and blend in with the community.”
“The idea is to maximize what we can on that property without going overboard, to make it as amenable to the community and to the people living there, and some public input from the people living there as well as the surrounding community is very important, and the town.”
The selectmen asked Simpkin whether public input will be had on the project (yes), whether the the rendering’s yellow-and-black colors were changeable (yes), who will make final decisions regarding design (a committee that includes members of the Housing Authority and New Canaan Neighborhoods, which owns the buildings), and whether it’s true the windows would only open three inches (not immediately clear).
Officials on Tuesday took a step toward securing four additional years of relief from a widely criticized state law that allows developers to skirt local planning decisions in towns such as New Canaan, where a low percentage of all housing stock qualifies as “affordable” under the state’s narrow definition. The Board of Selectmen voted 2-0 to approve $170,000 to be transferred from a specially designated town fund to the New Canaan Housing Authority. That agency is working with Canaan Parish, a Section 8 housing complex at Lakeview Avenue and Route 123, on plans to redevelop the apartments there with greater density in order to better use the land there and help New Canaan achieve a second four-year “moratorium” under the state law. Early-stage plans call for the 60-unit development to get to about 100 total units, Housing Authority Board Secretary Bernard Simpkin told the selectmen at their regular meeting, held in Town Hall. “We’ve already chosen an architect and now the next stage is doing the design, the engineering and all those things,” Simpkin said.