A pre-application for a 192-unit residential development on Church Street, through to Sherwood in downtown Greenwich, was filed with P&Z on Friday.
The proposal is being submitted under the state affordable housing statute 8-30g, which has been on the books since the late 1980s.
The statute has been invoked with increasing frequency in Greenwich where land values are high and properties to develop are scarce.
The statute was created as an incentive for towns to increase their affordable housing stock. Municipalities are required to have 10% of their housing deemed “Affordable,” per a state formula, and Greenwich has hovered around 5% for many years. Until Greenwich achieves 10%, about another 1200 units of Affordable housing, it must abide by the statute.
Per 8-30g, developments are exempt from local zoning regulations, with the rare exception of health and safety concerns. Health and safety does not include concerns about traffic, noise, views or parking.
As required by 8-30g, the development will designate 30% of the residential units as Affordable.
De facto affordable units, such as those provided to school teachers in private schools or to workers at country clubs, as well as other naturally occurring affordable housing, do not count toward the 10%.
According to a release from the developers’ PR firm, Antenna Group, the proposed building would comprise 192 residences with a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom layouts.
It would include “lifestyle amenity space” and multiple outdoor greenspaces.
Locals familiar with Church Street know it so narrow it is often necessary for one car to pull over to wait for an oncoming car to pass. Church Street, and to a lesser degree Sherwood, are used to cut through to Greenwich Hospital, and to access Lake Ave and North Street to back country and the Merritt Parkway.
There is limited, metered on street parking.
Across the street is The Nantucket condominiums, built in 1985.
The PR firm said the preliminary concept for the building’s design was still in very early stages, but a rendering of a building appears to have seven stories.
The release does not indicate specifically which of the multi-family residential houses on Church St would be demolished to make way for the development. Nor does it indicate whether the restaurant home to Townhouse at 35 Church Street would be demolished.
Townhouse opened just before the pandemic, and its owners recently went before P&Z to request permission for permanent outdoor dining. There are 150 seats in the restaurant,18 bar seats, plus a 104-person banquet space on the second floor.
Per the release, the building is intended to be contextual, with an architectural design that will blend with the neighborhood, which is comprised of a mix of commercial and residential buildings.
That “mix” was pointed out by the attorney for Greenwich Hospital, who applied to build a new 55,000 sq ft Smilow Cancer Center at Lake and Lafayette, a block from Church Street.
The hospital wanted to tear down a row of 7 residential and medical office properties they had purchased over the years.
Neighbors turned out in force to oppose the proposal during two year’s worth of P&Z hearings and participated in a workshop via Zoom, arguing the neighborhood was residential.
After two year’s worth of meetings, and a close vote among P&Z commissioners, the Smilow Cancer Center proposal was rejected.
The last large apartment building approved that wasn’t an 8-30g was along Milbank Ave, where a row of turn-of-century houses were recently demolished for a 30-unit building.
The application had been submitted prior to P&Z changing the regs to limit properties in the R6 zone to a max of two-family homes. P&Z denied the application despite the applicant hinting they could resubmit as an 8-30g. Ultimately the court issued a stipulation of settlement and the houses were recently demolished.
Per the press release, both J-Lofts and The Mill have been well received, attracting empty nesters, young families, and young professionals who work in Greenwich, but who have not had access to sufficient rental and affordable housing options.
The Church Street location is close to Greenwich Avenue, Greenwich Library, Greenwich Hospital, a bus line and the Greenwich train station.
Representatives from Eagle Ventures and SJP Properties are expected to present their preliminary plan for the proposed development to the Planning & Zoning Commission this fall.
“If approved, the development would help to invigorate the Greenwich rental market, which currently lacks accessible housing options for young professionals and families, as well as empty nesters seeking the flexibility of a rental that allows them to stay in Greenwich near family and friends,” the PR firm said in the press release Friday afternoon. “Additionally, and upon completion, the development will bring more daytime foot traffic to the many shops and restaurants in downtown Greenwich, and will also help to meet another local demand: providing more accessibly priced housing options to the teachers, first responders and medical staff who work within the local community.”
“We’re committed to bringing a world-class residential development to downtown Greenwich. With very little new rental housing available to current and future residents of Greenwich, this building represents a unique opportunity for the town to meet the demand for quality apartments that offer modern amenities and finishes within walking distance of the town’s shopping and dining district. It will simultaneously provide premium, inclusive affordable housing that will help Greenwich make significant progress on its state-mandated affordable housing requirement.”– press release from Antenna Group public relations firm
Headquartered in New York City, SJP Properties has a 40-year track record as a premier real estate owner and developer known for the creation of luxury residential and Class A commercial properties throughout the New York Metropolitan Area.
Per the release, Eagle Ventures, founded in 2010 by Greenwich native James P. Cabrera, is a family office with over 25 years of local local commercial and residential real estate ownership, development and management experience. It described Cabrera as an active member of the local community, having served as the chairman of the YMCA and the Greenwich High School Sports Foundation, and on the board of multiple other local non-profits.
According to a 2009 New York Times article, Cabrera founded Antares real estate development company in 1996 with Joseph Beninati and invested in the redevelopment of Stamford’s south end to develop Harbor Point.
According to a 2009 article in the Stamford Advocate, Antares initially specialized in building mansions. In 2006 Antares paid $223 million toward the purchase of Putnam Green, a 466 rental unit apartment complex, and Weaver’s Hill, which they planned to convert into condominiums before running into legal problems in 2007.
According to the CT Post in 2009, Antares “crashed and burned.”
Email requests to Antenna Group for information on the square footage of the building, price of rentals, number of parking spots and the exact buildings to be demolished to make way for the development were not provided as of press time. This article will be updated when that information is available.
The narrative and application filed with P&Z on Friday were not yet available from P&Z to view as of Friday afternoon.
Note to readers: This is a pre-application, and has yet to be scheduled for a meeting agenda, so P&Z commission and town planner are unable to answer questions at this time.
Per CT Gen Stat § 7-159b (2013) pre-applications are non binding.They may not be appealed under any provision of the general statutes, and shall not be binding on the applicant or any authority, commission, department, agency or other official having jurisdiction to review the proposed project.