Luxury rentals on offer at Children’s Museum location would add to real estate boom in West Hartford Center – Hartford Courant

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WEST HARTFORD — Plans for dozens of new apartments and condominiums in and near West Hartford Center have all the makings of a housing construction boom, surpassing even residences built at trendy Blue Back Square nearly a year ago. two decades.

“It’s not something we’ve been through,” West Hartford City Manager Rick Ledwith said of the recent round of proposals for the center that represents tens of millions of dollars of private investment.

The largest of the three projects so far — with a fourth likely on the way — is the $50 million proposal for 172 luxury rentals at the Children’s Museum site moving near the corner of Trout Brook Drive and Farmington Ave.

Continental Properties of New York is offering an apartment redevelopment – now named 950 Trout Brook Drive – with high-end finishes such as granite or quartz countertops and stainless steel appliances in the kitchens and plank floors throughout. rentals.

The complex would rise six stories to Trout Brook and then taper five stories to the east, representing the tilt of the 3.5-acre museum property.

Howard S. Rappaport, director of Continental, said the project would include amenities such as a club room, fitness center and indoor game room. Outside, Rappaport points to a “resort-quality” pool, fire pit, barbecue area, and rooftop terrace.

Continental’s market research indicates the apartments will appeal to a wide range of renters who seek a walkable downtown area with restaurants, shopping, entertainment and other services, Rappaport said.

Apartments would range from an average of 714 square feet for one bedroom and 979 square feet for a two-bedroom to 1,378 for a handful of three-bedroom units. More than half of the rentals would be two bedrooms. Starting rents are expected to be around $2,200 per month for one bedroom and $2,700 for two bedrooms.

Continental has also agreed to include an as-yet-undetermined number of “labour” rentals with income restrictions.

Rappaport said it was still working out what would be included in the rent and what other fees might be charged to tenants. Parking will be both under the building and on surrounding surface land, Rappaport said.

If the project is approved, construction could begin in the spring with the first apartments available for rent in 18 to 24 months.

Potential tenants range from young professionals and couples to empty parents and homeowners who no longer want to maintain a home.

“We see that people want to live and be part of the Center,” Rappaport said. “Being part of a vibrant downtown is a big factor when people decide where they want to live, and downtown West Hartford is probably the most walkable and walkable downtown in all of State.”

Even with other projects underway, Rappaport is seeing strong demand in an apartment market where occupancy is well over 90% and waiting lists for apartments in and near the Center go on for months.

“There is a significant demand and the market can absorb these projects,” Rappaport said.

Diagonally across from the Trout Brook property, developer Avner Krohn demolished two buildings to begin construction of 48 high-end rentals at a cost of more than $15 million.

Two blocks west, a development partnership, including Lexham Realty, a major Central real estate owner, offers 64 condominiums and 21 apartments in two buildings off LaSalle Road. The project could cost between $50 million and $80 million, according to Lexham.

And Stone Point Properties, which in 2019 bought the nearby Farmington Avenue building that was the original location of SK Lavery Appliance Co., is expected to offer apartments for the site, likely in the fall.

Suburban towns in the Hartford area are looking to increase housing in their downtowns to make them more walkable — a trend experts say is taking place across the country.

“We certainly think there’s a demand for rental housing right now,” Ledwith said. “I think everyone sees that in the state right now and in the country. We believe the Center has a lot to offer residents. It is very walkable, very lively.

While 950 Trout Brook would help alleviate the apartment shortage in and near the center, area residents are concerned that the development is too big, too high, and too tightly wedged into the surrounding neighborhood.

At the two 132-unit Hampshire House condominiums immediately north of the museum property, owners say the proposal places the apartments too close to their property.

Condominium owners are also troubled by the prospect of more vehicles going out onto the busy Trout Brook, already a problem for residents of Hampshire House. Some upper-floor owners are also unhappy about losing their view to the west.

“We just think it’s too big,” said David Rosow, president of the condo association and a unit owner since 2000. “We’d rather see something smaller there. Something is going to happen there, and we understand it. No one has a view. We understand that.”

The condo association is considering hiring a legal representative, Rosow said. He acknowledged that Continental contacted the neighborhood to discuss the plans.

Noise is also on the minds of neighbors like Mike Cocca who lives just east on Outlook Street. His home shares a property line with the proposed development.

“Now you hear children laughing,” Cocca said from his porch one evening last week. “It ranges from children laughing to cars spinning in circles.”

Rappaport said the development’s design places the outdoor pool in an indoor space that is surrounded on three sides by the building to dampen noise. And amenities such as a co-working space and catering kitchen are for residents only and not open to the general public.

Chuck Coursey, a community outreach consultant for Continental, said the developer has been reaching out to the neighborhood since the spring “presenting plans, answering questions and addressing concerns and will continue to do so until the public hearing in october”.

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Continental has been actively developing upscale rental communities in Connecticut for a decade and has been in business since the late 1950s, developing more than 25,000 homes, apartments and condominiums.

In Greater Hartford, rental developments include two at Rocky Hill – Alterra and Montage – One Glastonbury Place in Glastonbury and Tempo at Evergreen Walk in South Windsor.

A redevelopment of the property on Trout Brook in West Hartford would mean the end of an era for the Children’s Museum.

The museum, which has occupied the site for nearly six decades, sold the property to nearby Kingswood-Oxford School in 2002. The museum leased the property but with the intention of finding a new location. Kingswood-Oxford has made the decision to sell the museum property in 2021, pushing the museum to make a decision about its future.

The museum is temporarily downsizing and moving to the Emmanuel Synagogue in West Hartford. He is still looking for permanent housing and said he has limited his choices to East Hartford, but the museum did not disclose specific locations.

Meanwhile, plans call for the iconic 60-foot, 20-ton Conny the Whale sculpture to be moved just across the Trout Brook Greenway. Conny was built in the mid-1970s as a symbol of the “Save the Whales” movement, but has evolved into a playscape and mascot for the museum.

Kenneth R. Gosselin can be reached at [email protected].

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