Malloy joins New Canaan town officials in Millport Apartment groundbreaking

June 6, 2016


Attending the groundbreaking ceremony on Millport Avenue on June 1 were, from left, State Sen. Toni Boucher, State Representative Fred Wilms, State Sen. Bob Duff, First Selectman Robert Mallozzi III, Commissioner of the State Department of Housing Evonne Klein, Planning and Zoning Member Laszlo Papp, Gov. Dannel Malloy, New Canaan Housing Authority Chairman Scott Hobbs, Bankwell CEO Christopher Gruseke, Vice President and CRA officer of People’s United Bank Art Casavant.

For New Canaan resident and single mother Kara Laviola, it is only through New Canaan’s affordable housing initiatives that she is able to provide her two children with the same opportunities she was given while growing up.

Laviola, a graduate of New Canaan High School and resident commissioner for the redevelopment of Millport Apartments in New Canaan, shared her appreciation for the town’s action on affordable housing at the groundbreaking ceremony for Millport Apartments on June 1. The apartments are on Millport Avenue across from Mill Pond.

Gov. Dannel Malloy joined the ceremony to share the importance of projects such as the Millport Apartments redevelopment. “We are better when we properly house our citizens,” said Malloy. “This is a good day here in Connecticut.”

The Millport Apartments redevelopment is a two-phase project supported by The Housing Authority of the Town of New Canaan, Connecticut Housing Finance Authority, The State of Connecticut, People’s United Bank, Bankwell Bank and Eversource energy. New Canaan’s affordable housing fund is supported by a collection of fees of 1% of the value of building projects in town.

The Groundbreaking Ceremony officially commenced the start of phase one, which, when completed, will consist of 33 new affordable housing units. Construction on the project has already begun.

“We are going to complete phase one, move all of the residents from the top of the hill into phase one and then tear those units down, and begin phase two,” said Housing Authority Chairman Scott Hobbs.

The Housing Association will pursue a grant from the state’s Department of Housing in order to complete phase two, which will consist of 40 new units.

According to Connecticut state law, section 8-30g, each town must have 10% affordable housing units available to its citizens. In towns that do not meet the 10% requirement, a developer has potential to come in, unrestricted by local zoning laws, and build a development that will bring the town closer meeting the required amount of affordable units.

“Affordable housing is a great concept but very difficult to do,” said Hobbs. “The solution is to get started with seed money and then recommend to planning and zoning an alternative,” he said. The alternative in this case being the redevelopment of Millport Apartments.

The Millport Apartments redevelopment project will help New Canaan get closer to the mandatory 10% as well as create change within the community.“We need more diversity in housing if we want diversity in the community,” said State Sen. Toni Boucher who also attended the groundbreaking ceremony.

Although New Canaan will not reach the 10% requirement with this project or in the foreseeable future, it is through projects like the Millport Apartments redevelopment that prevent outside developers from coming in, because it shows the state that progress is being made towards reaching the required amount of affordable housing units. The redevelopment will earn the town a state-granted moratorium, which in effect will cause developers to comply with New Canaan zoning and regulations.

“This is a smart, strategic investment that will be good for residents, businesses, and it’s just the right thing to do,” said Evonne Klein from the State Department of Housing and former Darien first selectman. “This provides an option. A place for people to go,” said Klein, who says that the cost of housing in a town such as New Canaan has created issues for people who locally work here but are unable to afford proper housing.
According to Hobbs the completion of phase one is expected to be at the end of this year. All of the units in Millport will be affordable to households earning at or below 80% of the state median income offering citizens further opportunity to live in New Canaan.

The 2014 median household income in Connecticut was $70,048. Eighty percent of that is $56,038.

First Selectman Robert Mallozzi III also joined the ceremony to express his support for the project. “This is a real good moment for New Canaan and a real good moment for Connecticut,” said Mallozzi.