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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Authority OKs $3M for affordable housing units in luxury tower

By Elizabeth Benton
Register Staff
NEW HAVEN
— The Housing Authority officially approved $3.1 million to fund 20 affordable units inside the luxury tower soon to rise from the rubble of the former Shartenberg department store.
“The opportunity to have 20 public housing sites inside of a luxury building is pretty extraordinary,” said Robert Solomon, president of the board of the Housing Authority of New Haven. “The amenities are going to be the kind you expect in very expensive housing. To make those available is a different kind of opportunity.”
The 30-story tower will have 500 studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom units on top of parking and a grocery store and bike shop, yet to be named due to ongoing negotiations, according to Fairfield developer Bruce Becker of Becker and Becker. CQ
Included in the tower will be 50 affordable units, with 20 Section 8 units funded by the Housing Authority for 17 years.
Initial plans had included 25 units funded for only 10 years, but the number of units was lowered to accommodate a longer term, according to Solomon.
It’s unclear what will happen after 17 years.
“The notion it ends after 17 years is problematic,” said Solomon. “They may move towards market rent, but I don’t think they will be able to evict people at the termination period.”
Becker called the plan an “ideal way to address housing needs.”
“You won’t differentiate between the different units,” he said.
“We made a broad commitment to addressing housing needs in New Haven,” said Becker. “The focus is on market rate rental housing where there is a huge demand, over 99 percent occupancy of market rate rental housing in downtown New Haven, but there is also a great need for affordable housing.”
The Shartenberg site is currently fenced off as workers relocate electrical utilities and prepare the site for major excavation to begin this summer. Construction on the tower is expected to begin this winter. Becker said he plans to have the building ready for occupancy in the summer of 2010.
Elizabeth Benton can be reached at 789-5714 or ebenton@nhregister.com.

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