Letter: The Trojan Horse Returns in Proposed Benedict Place Development

Letter to the editor submitted by Judy Crystal, Dec. 16, 2017

In 2008, real estate developer and attorney, Joseph C. Tranfo floated a plan to build a hotel, restaurants, offices and apartments on land that reaches from Lewis Street and Benedict Place to West Elm. The keystone of his proposal was acquiring the municipal parking lot on Lewis Street. Much was made of the investment in property he had already bought; implying that to deny him what he wanted would be an incredible financial burden, perhaps even ruin to his family.

The plan was denied. Nine years later, Joseph A. Tranfo has picked up the reins, apparently in financial good health, proposing an even more outlandish scheme for the property. Gone is the hotel. Those guests who would buy in the stores, eat in the restaurants have disappeared. Now, he is proposing to build three apartment buildings; four, FIVE and SIX stories tall on the same property! And office space! And more? The magic inclusion: some affordable housing.

He moans about the state’s financial woes and suggests that the empty stores on the Avenue will be filled with the middle-income renters who will occupy his buildings. An additional sweetener: he will allow the town access to 100 of the underground parking spaces he will create under the “parks” that will occupy the current parking lot. All he wants is a change in some verbiage in the current zoning laws…so he may sneak through the intentions of town planners and bring prosperity to his family, local real estate agents and attorneys. The phrase used by several concerned citizens is “red flag.”

At the present time Mr. Tranfo is the owner of most of the buildings on Benedict Place and Court, yet he refers to the “dilapidated condition” of those buildings. May one ask who is to blame for that? Is there any reason to assume that he would be more careful of the huge complex he is proposing?

The members of the Planning and Zoning Commission have held the line on one or two of the most outrageous proposals made recently (e.g. the Forest Hills style complex on Milbank, the congested monster on Sound Beach) but this proposal is more dangerous than either one.

I think it significant that the proposition was made when all of us are busy with our families and holiday celebrations.

Please, let our selectmen and the members of Planning and Zoning know that you are concerned about – and opposed to – this egregious intrusion into what makes our town a good place to live.

Thank you for your attention.

Judy Crystal

Original story

P&Z: Proposed Text Amendment to CGIO Zone Could Signal Major Downtown Redevelopment