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Connecticut Leaders Tout Efforts to Increase Housing Stock at Newington Building Site

Thu May 25, 2023 - Northeast Edition
Connecticut Public Radio & Hartford Courant

Cedar Pointe — representing Dakota’s 9th project in Connecticut — will transform approximately 11 acres of a vacant brownfield site into 108 newly constructed apartments. (Dakota rendering)
Cedar Pointe — representing Dakota’s 9th project in Connecticut — will transform approximately 11 acres of a vacant brownfield site into 108 newly constructed apartments. (Dakota rendering)

Connecticut's top officials spoke recently about their full-court press to increase the state's affordable housing inventory at a construction site for a new affordable housing apartment complex in Newington.

Among them were Gov. Ned Lamont and Connecticut Department of Housing (DOH) Commissioner Seila Mosquera-Bruno.

Both leaders gathered May 17 at the Cedar Pointe affordable housing apartment complex site in the community southeast of Hartford to tout the state's efforts, according to Connecticut Public Radio's WNPR in Hartford.

Dakota, a Massachusetts-based developer, is spearheading the project and has created other projects in Connecticut for about a decade.

Newington's Cedar Pointe development will include 108 apartments, 100 of which are being constructed as affordable housing. The remaining eight will be market rate housing. The apartments will be located on Cedar Street about a half-mile from a CTfastrak train station.

The first phase of the project is set for completion this fall. It will consist of 72 units within two, three-story garden-style buildings, and a community building. They will be made up of one- and two-bedroom apartments built to Passive House standards, Dakota noted on its website, designed to give residents several benefits like lower monthly utility bills from reduced energy use, high indoor air quality due to excellent ventilation, and a soundproof home due to air tightness and superior insulation.

Phase 2 of the Cedar Pointe construction got under way earlier this year and will provide a 36-unit residential building.

"Our motto is we build housing that matters, because we believe that affordable housing really matters to the community," Dakota co-founder Roberto Arista said, adding that, "it gives to families that cannot afford expensive housing, [which] seems to be what is all over the place these days. [They want] a nice place to live and a beautiful place to live."

Cedar Pointe will help Newington reach the state's 10 percent affordable housing requirement for Connecticut municipalities, a number the town has hovered near for several years.

The contested apartments have been in the works for at least five years. Newington residents previously expressed concerns over the project's impact on area traffic and safety for pedestrians.

Additionally, the former brownfield was home to an automotive company until it closed more than two decades ago, the Hartford Courant reported, and the petroleum waste left behind was cleaned up under the supervision of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP).

State Building More Affordable Homes With CHFA Help

About 3,500 housing units are currently under construction across the state, according to Mosquera-Bruno.

"We have these types of projects, which are affordable housing for those individuals that are making between $15,000 up to $80,000 in income," she explained. "We are working on the rental side, we are working on the homeownership, and also promoting more supply, and more building."

WNPR noted that helping the state to develop more properties and increase homeownership is the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA), a quasi-government agency.

Pat Guliano, managing director of multifamily for CHFA, said projects like Cedar Pointe are a good example of the collaboration between public and private entities.

"We're often asked what's the best conditions for a housing development like Cedar Pointe, what's the right location, mix of financing, mix of income or architectural design," she said. "And oftentimes, the housing solution that works best is the one that represents balance. It's also one that provides short-term benefits like access to good schools, reliable public transit, and employment centers along with long-term affordability, [and is] the solution that helps save energy in the short term while delivering long-term environmental sustainability and resiliency."

In the last two years, more than $26 million in private equity was brought to Connecticut through the leveraging of Low Income Housing Tax Credits awarded by CHFA, and additional sources committed by the state, according to Guliano.

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