Row of Historic Houses on Milbank Topple after Long Wait: 30 Apartments to Come

A row of four houses on Milbank, plus one around the corner on Havemeyer were posted for demolition back in February of 2020.

On Tuesday, demolition crews began tearing down the houses in earnest, but the demolition was a long time in the making.

Demolition of 259 Milbank Ave. July 28, 2021 Contributed photo
259 Milbank Ave. Feb 26, 2020 Photo: Leslie Yager
259 Milbank Ave demolished to its foundation on July 28, 2021 Photo Leslie Yager
155 Milbank Ave. Feb 26, 2020 Photo: Leslie Yager
155 Milbank Ave. Feb 26, 2020 Photo: Leslie Yager
155 Milbank Ave demolished. July 28, 2021

Because the homes were built before 1940, a written letter of objection submitted to the Building Division of DPW would trigger an additional 45 day stay of demolition, but ultimately the houses had no protection. Much older, historically significant homes in Greenwich have been demolished.

The developer is planning 30 apartments, which would not be allowed today.

The application came in before a rule change, and is therefore grandfathered.

In June 2017, P&Z limited the number of units in the R6 zone to two.

The rule change was largely in response to the multi unit condo developments replacing turn-of-century single family homes on Milbank Ave.

Throughout the P&Z process it was understood that the applicant could instead submit the application as an 8-30g development under the State’s affordable housing statute. That would have exempted them from all local zoning regulations, and result in something even bigger and not necessarily having adequate parking.

When the P&Z commission initially balked at the application for 19 units in 2017, calling the massive building “backward facing” as the entrance faced away from Milbank Ave, the applicant argued that Agnes Morley Heights next door, a town owned building with 150 elderly apartments built in 1973, had set a precedent.

P&Z commissioners said this development was unlike Agnes Morley because it is on the prominent corner of Milbank Ave and serve as a transition from a group of historic buildings in downtown to the adjacent residential neighborhood with mostly single-family and two-family houses.

The application was rejected by the Planning & Zoning Commission.

The applicant sued.

After two years of negotiations, a settlement was announced.

In November 2019, P&Z voted to approve a “stipulation of settlement” for 30 units, up from 19, but the square footage is roughly the same. Also, the building will be split into two parts separated by a glass atrium, to give the appearance of two buildings and feel less massive.

Also, per the stipulation, the parking at the apartment complex was increased from 53 parking spots to 70 parking spots.

261Milbank Ave is next in the row of houses being demolished. July 28, 2021 Photo: Leslie Yager
Tree stumps on Milbank Ave where a 30 unit apartment building is coming. July 28, 2021 Photo: Leslie Yager
261 and 263 Milbank Ave from the rear. Agnes Morley in background. July 28, 2021 Photo: Leslie Yager

See also:

P&Z Approves Legal Settlement for 30 Unit Building to Replace Homes on Milbank 
Nov 28, 2019

19-Unit Backward-Facing Milbank Ave Development Scrutinized by P&Z 
July 12, 2017

Planning & Zoning Commission Approves New R-6 Regs, Too Late for Some Neighborhoods
June 2017