This week an application for a final site plan and special permit was submitted to Greenwich Planning & Zoning for the “Church/Sherwood” 8-30g affordable housing development in downtown Greenwich.
Last fall it was submitted as a pre-application.
As required by state statute 8-30g, the development will designate 30% of 192 apartments as affordable per a state defined formula.
The affordable units are required to be deed restricted for 40 years.
Until 10% of Greenwich’s housing stock is affordable, 8-30g will apply.
Roughly 1200 units of affordable housing would be required to achieve 10%.
Overall, about 5,600 new units would need to be created under 8-30g before Greenwich is in compliance.
Last fall when the Church-Sherwood applicants submitted their pre-application, pushback was swift.
Residents said pedestrian and traffic safety were issues. They testified in October that Church Street was a major cut through from Putnam Avenue to Greenwich Hospital and to the Merritt Parkway via North Street, and is so narrow that often times a driver has to pullover and stop for oncoming traffic.
The building is designed by Minno & Wasko Architects and Planners to blend with various historic buildings surrounding the property.
Nine of the 11 structures to be demolished to make way for the development are on the list of contributing structures in the Historic Fourth Ward district.
Demolitions include 35, 39*, 43*, and 47* Church Street, as well as 32*, 36*, and 42* Sherwood Place. Also 1*, 2*, 3* and 4 Putnam Court would be razed.
*The properties with an asterisk are on the National Register of Historic Places.
“This significant infusion of new housing options is expected to fulfill an urgent need among Greenwich’s existing workforce, many of whom have been priced out of the market due to the lack of affordable housing and a near-absence of available rentals in the area,” the release said.
The applicant’s affordability plan includes (15%) units affordable to families earning 60% or less of the median income for the area or the State Median Income (SMI), whichever is less.
The rest of the affordable units would be affordable to those earning 80% or less of either the area or SMI, whichever is less.
At the 80% limit a person earns no more than $57,456.
At the 60% limit a person earns no more than $43,092.
The developer’s press release talks about providing rentals for “public sector workers and first responders,” though most Greenwich public school teachers, firefighters and police officers earn too much to qualify for 8-30g housing.
For example, per the Greenwich Schools teacher salary schedule, only a Step 1 teacher, typically someone in their first year teaching, at a salary of $56,111, falls within 80% of SMI.
The release says the developers have addressed community feedback from last October by adding design features to reduce traffic and enhance pedestrian safety, provide outdoor greenspace, incorporate sustainable features, and better fit in with the surrounding environment.
Included in the application is a six-page memo prepared by Greenwich native, Nick Abbott at the request of Church Sherwood LLC.
Mr. Abbott, who is on the DeSegregate Connecticut team and serves as its Deputy Coordinator, writes that the development is the “best near-term opportunity to provide meaningful affordable housing.”
He cites statistics, including that 44% of renters in Greenwich are cost-burdened, meaning they spend over 30% of their gross monthly income on rent and associated costs. Nearly a quarter of renters are severely cost burdened, spending over 50% of their income on housing. Of homeowners, 33% with mortgages are cost-burdened and 18% with mortgages are severely cost burdened.
He writes that based on listings on Zillow and Apartments.com, there is not even a single 2-bedroom apartment for rent in Greenwich that is affordable to a household making less than $80,000 per year.
Abbott writes that while the town has historically invested in and accommodated affordable housing, its current efforts fall short.
He suggests that it is precisely because of its history as a center of diverse and affordable housing in the early 20th century, the Historic Fourth Ward is an ideal location for the 8-30g development.
“The Fourth Ward is historically notable because of the diversity of its populations, which included a mix of Irish-, Italian-, Polish-, and African Americans,” Abbott writes in his memorandum, adding, “Affordable housing can preserve and enhance the diverse character of the Fourth Ward by ensuring that future households of moderate means have the same opportunity to secure housing there as their historical forbearers.”
Abbott concludes his memo by quoting First Selectman Fred Camillo saying, ‘We’re trying to marry the past of Greenwich – which has made it so attractive – with a brighter, bolder future.’ The quote from Camillo was taken from remarks he delivered last August about the 2020 Census.
The full quote from Camillo, who is a strong opponent of 8-30g was, “While we’re trying to marry the great past of Greenwich — which has made it so attractive — with a brighter, bolder future — it doesn’t include doubling the size of our population, because that comes with a lot of drawback.”
Last week at a press conference outside new townhouses at Armstrong Court, Mr. Camillo, along with State Rep Meskers (D-150), State Rep Kimberly Fiorello (R149), State Senator Ryan Fazio (R-36), and leaders of the housing authority, talked about the negative impacts of 8-30g on Greenwich, given the town’s high land values make it particularly desirable to developers.
Camillo said he was very concerned about the increases in impervious surface that result from the developments, particularly at a time when flooding has increased across town and memories of Ida are fresh on people’s minds.
Senator Fazio said through 8-30g, the state was imposing an undue burden on Greenwich, allowing developers to ignore local zoning rules that have the interest of the community at heart.
State Rep Meskers said it was unfortunate that naturally occurring affordable housing does not fit the state definition of “affordable,” and therefore isn’t counted toward the 10% mandate.
Fazio said the delegation would soon introduce legislation that would reform 8-30g and have bi-partisan support.
In addition to Church-Sherwood, there is a proposal for a large 8-30g development at Benedict Court and Benedict Place behind St Mary Church on Greenwich Ave. It would have six stories and 110 units. It would similarly replace a number of historic houses with a multi story apartment building.
A third large 8-30g development has been proposed at 5 Brookridge Drive. It would replace a single family house from 1910 with five story building comprised of 86 units.
A fourth sizable 8-30g development is proposed for 240 Greenwich Avenue, at the rear of the iconic 1916 Beaux Arts building that was originally home to Greenwich Trust Company. It is now home to Bank of America. J Lofts West is proposed to have six stories and 60-units.
Neighbors Vent Opposition to 8-30g on Church and Sherwood; Destruction of Historic District Considered October 14, 2022
Pre-Application Submitted to Greenwich P&Z for 192-Unit 8-30g Development on Church Street in Downtown
192-Unit Affordable Housing Development Would Raze Restaurant, Historic Houses
Greenwich Housing Authority Chair Blasts Affordable Housing Proposals: “The 8-30g is being abused by developers.