Private West Rock Homes Near Completion
by Allan Appel | Oct 19, 2011 12:16 pm
Spacious backyards with scenic views. Spiffy new pedestal sinks. Energy-efficient doors and windows and laminated floors. And a chance to be part of a $200 million transformation of a failed housing development.
Housing Authority Deputy Director Jimmy Miller and general contractor Yul Watley pitched those assets as they showed off the latest phase of the Brookside development—- 20 homes that will be occupied by their owners and serve a cornerstone of what they hope will be a viable mixed-income community with another 433 rental apartments and another 18 private homes by the Hamden border.
The 20 two and three bedroom homes have different colors and designs, though each is about 1,400 square feet. They all sit in an attractive, flat enclave at the corner of Solomon and Jennings Way, two new streets that have been created by the city as part of their contribution to the re-imagined Brookside and Rockview projects, which were razed in 2008.
Miller said the homes will cost between $250,000 and $300,000 to build, but will be sold for between $150,000 and $175,000. To qualify, a prospective buyer’s income must not exceed 80 percent of the area median income, or about $75,000.
They’re being marketed first to those families who were displaced when the Rockview and Brookside were razed in order to make way for the broader new neighborhood the HANH is building. Other HANH tenants get the second shot at the homes, then members of the general public with qualifying incomes. So far, three purchase/sale agreements have been signed and two have been approved by their banks.
“We’re calling them ‘Belden Brook Homes at West Rock,’” said Miller. He said the name was chosen after the little brook that runs behind the homes.
Not far behind that brook is a section of the fence that Hamden put up over the past decades to keep out what they perceived as crime-inclined residents of the old Brookside. If all goes right, Miller said, with a mixed-income community coming into being, that fence will come down, as its reason for being will have disappeared.
The first 12 homes are to be finished this fall and winter and the last eight by summer of 2013, he said.
Yul Watley toured a reporter through No. One Jennings Way, named for local activist Curtis Jennings, a member of the West Rock Implementation Committee, which has helped plan the community. Watley said it will be the model home to spur sales and should be finished by the end of October.
As he showed off the durable laminated floors and the sink unit he was installing, Watley took well earned pride in his work.
Click here for a story of how Watley, who started in business selling hot dogs from a cart, has developed HANH’s most successful resident-owned business.
He developed his Advanced Construction Technology company from a tiny operation doing clean-up and rehabs of HANH properties into a 15 to 20-person company that has been able to secure the multimillion dollar contract to build Belden Brook homes.
He did this in part by teaming up with Leigh Small of Crystal Management, who has assisted Watley with the “back office” aspect of making construction bids.
Watley pointed out that two of the subcontractors he has hired are also HANH tenants. He also said that 60 percent of the Belden Brook house crew are black or Hispanic
“That’s double” what the city requires, Miller pointed out.
“The problem in minority communities is lack of assets. Income is fleeting. It’s assets that develop wealth,” he said.
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This is great news! Police used to hate going into those isolated, crime-infested areas. It was depressing just to see the condition of the area. Hopefully, they will become the kind of livable areas that other re-developed housing projects have become. Now, how about doing something about the fence bordering Hamden up there.
Come on KAMB, Charlie, and Ralph let me hear you. A true man or woman would give credit where credit is do. ACT is for real in the construction Industy.
how about we worry about the fence once we’re sure it’s not going to turn into another dangerous hellhole.
there were good reasons Hamden put up that fence. that project - and the city of New Haven - was a lousy neighbor. people were having their homes broken into, bottles were being thrown at cars, cars were being broken into all the time, and people didn’t feel safe pulling into their own homes after dark.
if New Haveners think this project is such an awesome idea, why did you put it out in the middle of nowhere and at the furthest edge of your border?
I’m sure the New Haven Housing Authority and the people responsible for this new housing development are falling all over themselves patting each other on the back for a job well done, SAVE IT! Having been raised in Rockview and understanding how many families that have been displaced by the demolition of Ashmund St., Brookside, and Rockview without a proportionate number of low income, Government subsidized housing built to replace what was torn down is equal to gentrification by proxy. I have not lived in New Haven for many many years, however when I visit my relatives, I am hard pressed not to become overly zealous in trying to encourage them to leave the God forsaken place for good. I have told my sister that she should go to City Planning and find out what the long range prognosis, excuse me, I meant plan is for the Model City. There has to be something in the works besides individual housing that encourages a dwindling middle class to patronize a city that cares so little for it’s population of young folks that they have no recreational outlets, and has managed somehow to garner one of the highest murder rates in the country. I understand that Yale University has managed to swallow up a lions share of the downtown real-estate and most of lower Winchester Av., this too was to be expected, When you have a city of spineless administrators that yearn to be manipulated by the hallowed halls of their overlords at Yale, you become part of a failed experiment as to what happens after total chaos. Is there no one who will stand up? Is this the best you can do for your people? It’s embarrassing knowing how far the city has sunk from it’s original glory days, being the site of the Amistad Trials, that championed the rights of Africans who had not yet tasted the harsh perils that had already be-fallen their enslaved brethren. I challenge the Mayor, the City Council, Chief of Police to come up with a plan that includes some real reform on how the City of New Haven is being planned, and concentrate more effort in areas like Youth Centers like I had in the 60’s ie: YMCA, Soul Station, Van Guard Center, The Grotto, Legion Center, The Administration Bldg. (Rockview & Brookside), West Hills Admin Bldg. and a number of other places. Even-though, this is only a pacifyer for the most active demographic, they would also require supervision, and guidance which translates into real meaningful jobs…... Just a thought from someone who has been there done that!
posted by: lori fisher on October 20, 2011 10:38am
Brookside is where I was raised ,It was the best place to raise kids in those days…however I dot like it being call a failing housing development housing authority, failed not the old timers we took care of our lawns housing started letting everyone move in, and not doing there jobs,but yea it looks nice..name some streets after Elliot’s Gomez,Bessie jenkins.Mr Augustine…people like that
Congratulations to all who worked and are working on this! Now, please widen and light up Springside Avenue! While I appreciate natural surroundings, this road is just plain unsafe in rain, snow or even in the dark. It has cars and school buses going way to fast with 3 schools using this path. Parents, teachers and students are at risk as well as the walkers and bicyclists that often enjoy the parks. Please someone help before winter hits again. If we truly want to embrace all of our New Haven residents start with West Rock and make it safe as well as affordable. The West Rock location of Job Corps was a great idea as well as working on fixing the schools and housing, but lets expand on that with a police substation, grocery, access to the new school library/ homework center after school and on weekends as well as Solar Youth and Common Ground. How about partnering with SCSU on expanding their campus and efforts in this direction? If opportunities for shopping ,arts, business and recreation are in place this area will be come less isolated and a more accessible and integral part of New Haven for all to enjoy.
@Frank the Crank
Yes, there was a reason for the fence and it may have made sense…then. The new development was built there to replace the old public housing complex that created the reasons for the fence. It’s hoped that it will become like other neighborhoods where similar projects were replaced with mixed-income communities. Finger pointing and a NIMBY mentality doesn’t make a community or a good neighbor. Tearing down fences does.
I hope this low income housing project suceeds. A lit of my tax money was spemt on it and I’d hate to have to shell out more money to rebuild this in the future again. Good luck.
Not clear on this one. Why do the tax payers pay to have house build for 300k and then sold for 150? I think we need social housing, but why does it have to be nice? if you’re not poor, nobody gives you an extra 150k when you buy a house, which is really what this comes down to. If you’re poor, we will provide housing, but why do we need to enable poor people to buy an expensive house. Right now the average home price in new haven is probably below 300k. So can now every person that is underwater or has lost a lot on their house also just get 150k?