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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Apartment site addition sought

By Brian McCready
Milford Bureau Chief
— A developer is seeking approval to construct nine townhouses in three buildings at the site of a former apartment complex that the city condemned in 2005.
Acquisition Trust LLC, owner of the 180 Melba St. parcel, is seeking to add nine two-bedroom units on land that served as parking for the former dilapidated apartment complex. The entire parcel consists of four acres.
“It’s an environmentally sensitive project, and will have a positive impact on the neighborhood,” said attorney Steve Studer of Milford.
The former 53-unit apartment complex at 180 Melba St. was condemned for myriad health and building code violations, including failing air quality tests and lacking structural integrity.
The city spent about $110,000 relocating the residents, including paying for a portion of their rent and providing emergency housing, which is supposed to be repaid by the building’s owners.
The existing residential building on the property was constructed in 1964.
“Those apartments were never upscale or well-managed,” Studer said. “It became a problem for the city.”
He said the land proposed for the townhouses had contained 19 unregistered motor vehicles, and police were routinely called to the apartments for drug use, breach of peace and domestic incidents.
Studer said his client purchased the building in 2007 and is renovating the existing building. The rehab project includes reducing the number of units from 53 to 41, then adding the nine townhouses. Studer said there is a net reduction of three units, but the number of bedrooms is increasing.
Studer said his client needs a special permit to increase the number of bedrooms proposed for the site. Zoning regulations allow 16 bedrooms per acre. If the applications were approved, 20.5 bedrooms per acre would be allowed.
Studer also produced letters of support from neighbors, including Breaker Beach and Southwind Association.
Assistant Fire Chief Lee Cooke in a letter recounted the property’s checkered past, including numerous code violations, and that extensive mold was rampant inside the building. He wrote that the developer has “consistently stepped up to the plate,” to do the project correctly.
Architect John Wicko said the goal is to make the entire project have a “village character,” and that the units will be upscale. He said in order to make the project more upscale, they needed to add more two-bedroom units.
Originally, there were 29, 1-bedroom units, which has been changed to 18, 1-bedroom units, and 32, 2-bedroom units.
PZB vice Chairwoman Kim Rose, D-3, declined comment on the pending application. The PZB will vote on the application at its May meeting.