‘We Feel Really Good’: Officials Cut Ribbon on Rebuilt ‘Canaan Parish’ Housing Complex [PHOTOS]


A look inside the rebuilt Canaan Parish, on Oct. 26, 2021. BM photo

Officials on Tuesday held a ceremony to mark the opening of the rebuilt housing complex at Route 123 and Lakeview Avenue, part of a larger project that also will see a new structure on the site.

Canaan Parish, looking west from the northeast corner of the new 60-unit building, on Oct. 26, 2021. Credit: Michael Dinan

Residents of the 60 units at the rebuilt complex started moving into the new building Monday, following issuance of a temporary Certificate of Occupancy, according to New Canaan Housing Authority Chair Scott Hobbs.

“We feel really good about the outcome,” Hobbs said Tuesday prior to a formal ribbon-cutting at the new building.

Despite COVID- and budget-related holdups, “we are relatively on schedule from where we started,” Hobbs said.

A look inside the rebuilt Canaan Parish, on Oct. 26, 2021. BM photo

“We are extremely happy about the finished product and believe that we have created an exceptional structure for our client/tenant occupants,” he said.

The Housing Authority is partnering with New Canaan Neighborhoods Inc. on the estimated $45 million project. Last week, its developers filed a permit to demolish the eight standing Section 8 housing structures, which will be replaced with a new 40-unit building.

A look inside the rebuilt Canaan Parish, on Oct. 26, 2021. BM photo

Both are expected to count toward a new “moratorium” from a state law that allows developers to ignore local planning decisions in places that do not meet strict affordable housing requirements. The town last achieved a four-year moratorium from the law in June 2017, upon completion of the redevelopment of affordable units at Mill Pond.

That means that until the Connecticut Department of Housing issues a new “Certificate of Affordable Housing Completion,” New Canaan is subject to the state affordable housing law.

A look from inside the rebuilt Canaan Parish, on Oct. 26, 2021. BM photo

Asked about the open window, Hobbs said, “It’s really a shame on the part of Connecticut, where the project was initially delayed for, I believe, around six months because of Connecticut budget issues and the need to get allocations from the affordable housing tax credits, and then a additional roughly four to six months due to COVID.”

“So while we were comfortably going to be inside that window, the state of Connecticut and COVID delayed us, well beyond our control, and now we’re stuck with the fact they did not extend the moratoriums to allow us movement.”

Chriss Hussey of New Canaan Neighborhoods Inc. stands at the podium, New Canaan Housing Authority Chair Scott Hobbs in foreground, during a formal presentation to open the new building at Canaan Parish on Oct. 26, 2021. Credit: Michael Dinan

Several elected and appointed officials, as well as municipal workers, attended Tuesday’s ceremony, held inside due to rain, in a large basement/utility room of the new building. 

There, Hussey thanked Canaan Parish Redevelopment board members Judy Bentley, Peggy Danneman, Bob Mantilia, Jim Luciano, Arnold Karp and Amanda Martocchio (from New Canaan Neighborhoods), and from the Housing Authority, board members Tim Welch, Hobbs and Danneman. She also acknowledged and thanked the founding members of the original Canaan Parish group from 1978, the municipal board members and Town Hall workers, including Public Works Director Tiger Mann, who helped on the project, “visionaries” Chuck Berman and Laszlo Papp, and consultant David McCarthy of Heritage Housing, AP Construction and Andy Ashforth, and others.

A look inside the rebuilt Canaan Parish, on Oct. 26, 2021. BM photo

“I am personally grateful to the late [state] Sen. Bob Bliss for insisting that I join the board,” Hussey said. “What a gift he gave me. As a mother and a grandmother, I know how important self-esteem is in all of us, especially children. How proud they will be when they bring their friends home to Canaan Parish. Is there any better feeling? For many residents, Canaan Parish will be the nicest home they’ve ever had.”

Others spoke, too.

Canaan Parish, looking from the south, on Oct. 26, 2021. Credit: Michael Dinan

The Planning & Zoning Commission approved the redevelopment project three years following weeks of discussion about early-stage renderings. The project’s viability grew uncertain in the spring of 2019 as hoped-for state funding fell through. Then, a few months later, a Federal Housing Authority loan plan materialized. Ultimately, tax credit financing through the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority, as well as the FHA-approved loan and a private bank backstopped by HUD came through.

3 thoughts on “‘We Feel Really Good’: Officials Cut Ribbon on Rebuilt ‘Canaan Parish’ Housing Complex [PHOTOS]

  1. Well done NC Housing Authority, these look great. Mike Dinan could you run an article on how much the rents are and how someone qualifies to live in affordable housing in NC? It’s all a bit of a mystery.

  2. So great we are providing lots of different housing opportunities in New Canaan. Michael, did you happen to hear at this dedication any mention of what the reported difference in density (# of apartments, # of families with kids) will be with this building and the new proposed buildings? Wonder what studies where conducted on what the impact will be on East School and really all the schools with this new density. Traffic and resource impact studies too…emergency services, police, sewage, etc. I am sure they were conducted. Could you perhaps sleuth out who might have those studies? Would love to read them. Thanks!

    • Many of the types of studies you’re referring to—things like traffic and stormwater runoff—were part of the application when it came in years ago, and they could still be on file at Town Hall for anyone to review.

      I will note that the new traffic pattern planned for the site, which as I recall will include a dedicated exit further down onto Lakeview Avenue, was said at the time of the approval to be a major advantage over existing conditions.

      Other major advantages to the site plan were creation of more green space on the lot, since the dwelling units are to be located in these new, taller structures rather than spread throughout the property. I think we wrote about all of this at the time, and you could search the site for “Canaan Parish” to find those articles. Also, the meeting minutes from P&Z would be on the town website.

      I don’t know what you mean by “new proposed buildings”—there’s this one, and then there will be one more (with 40 units).

      Also, I don’t know what you are asking when you refer to “resource impact studies” with respect to emergency services and police. Presumably, residents of subsidized housing are just as prone to accidents and lapses in judgment as you are.

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