The planned new buyer of another failed Dwight housing co-op is lining up state money to rebuild it, with the same number of homes plus added common space.
Details of the plan emerged this past week as the prospective new owner, Carabetta Management Co., made a presentation before the City Plan Commission at its monthly meeting at City Hall.
The Co-op is called Antillean Manor. It’s on Day Street between Chapel and Edgewood. As at two nearby former co-ops that ran down and fell into private hands, Antillean’s co-op members have entered in a purchase agreement with a private buyer: Carabetta, the Meriden-based real estate company currently managing the premises. Carabetta plans to demolish the existing dilapidated housing complex then temporarily relocate the residents, to build brand new.
Carabetta appeared before City Plan because it is seeking zoning help: a special exception allowing the replacement for a Dwight co-op to be a planned development unit, or PDU, just like the current co-op.
Commissioners voted unanimously to recommend that the Board of Zoning Appeals approve the special exception. (It’s up to the BZA to make that final call.)
Carabetta’s development plan calls for replacing the deteriorating existing 31 units on Day Street with 31 new units. To do that it needs the project to have the same designation as a PDU, as the complex was granted back in 1968. The development is currently in a Residence District, or RM-2 which permits building at a density of one dwelling unit per 2,000 square feet of lot area.
Helen Muniz, development officer for Carabetta, said that the company won’t fully acquire Antillean Manor until it closes on the finances. Carabetta has an application before the Competitive Housing Assistance for Multifamily Properties 12 (CHAMP 12) awards are expected by the end of the month.
She said if Carabetta is unsuccessful getting financing this month, it will immediately apply again in December.
Meanwhile, should the BZA take the City Plan Commission’s recommendation and approve the special exception for the PDU, the project still has to come back to the commission for site plan review.
Muniz said that construction is estimated to begin spring 2019 and take about 16 months to complete.
To prepare, Carabetta has hired a relocation specialist to help residents find new housing that meets federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) criteria and keeps in mind that many have children and some are elderly.
“We’re trying to be very careful because we know we’re dealing with families,” she said.” We spent a year and a half interacting with the residents at Antillean Manor. We had monthly meetings for a year and a half where they spoke of their concern and of relocation. We entered an agreement and hired a relocation specialist.”
“They can move back when construction is completed and the units are such that they will support their return,” Muniz added.
Project architect Henry Schadler said, like the current complex, the new one will be four stories. The 31 apartments break down to five one-bedrooms, 11 two-bedrooms, 14 three-bedrooms, and one four-bedroom.
“The footprint of the building is basically the same,” Schadler told the commissioners Tuesday night. But he did note that there will be common space for residents on each floor. The size of apartments will range from 680 square feet to more than 1100 square feet. Each unit also will have its own washer and dryer. Developers also propose adding four more parking spaces, two of which will be Americans with Disabilities Act compliant. That would bring the number of spaces at the complex up to 35.
“This is controversial to the extent that the neighborhood, the Board of Alders, and other local people are very enthused about seeing this place being demolished and getting something new in its place,” said attorney Jim Segaloff, who is representing Carabetta and its affiliate Antillean Estates LLC before the commission on the BZA.
Commissioner and Westville Alder Adam Marchand said at last Tuesday night’s meeting that he had no problem supporting the recommendation because the planned redevelopment is in line with the city’s comprehensive plan and residents to whom he’d spoken are supportive. West River Alder Tyisha Walker-Myers, too, supports the plan; the complex is in her ward.
“I think this new layout in terms of the arrangement of the rooms allows more integrated functioning,” Marchand said. “And I think this design does more credit to the neighborhood by a long shot.”
Commission Chairman Ed Mattison asked how the potential new owners will make sure that the new development doesn’t fall into similar disrepair years from now.
Muniz said that the proposed new development is being funded through the low-income tax credit and it requires that the property manager is certified by the Connecticut Housing and Finance Authority. Carabetta, which was brought in by HUD because of the deterioration, has that certification. She said it also has invested a significant amount of its own funding to bring the housing conditions up to a livable standard.
“We have the experience and expertise to undertake this plan and see it into the future,” she said.
Previous coverage of Antillean Manor:
• Antillean Manor Co-Op Agrees To Sale
• Gentrification Vampires Vanish From Plan
• Builder Clears Hurdle At Crumbling Coop
• Not So Fast, Antillean Tells Eager Builder
• Plan Unveiled To Raze, Rebuild Co-ops
• Tenants Wooed In Land Grab
• Clean-Up Crews Descend On Antillean Manor
• The Next Church Street South?