Main Street housing plan gets approval

Main Street housing plan gets approval

Posted in the Trumbull Forum


Matawan, NJ

#1 Apr 14, 2014
BRIDGEPORT -- They have their zoning approvals, now they just need the money to break ground.

After several delays, the Bridgeport Housing Authority and its development partners on Monday obtained the Planning & Zoning Commission's approval for the first of several developments to replace the city's troubled public housing projects.

The zoning permit "gets us one step closer" to securing the $30 million in public and private money necessary to break ground at 375 Main Street, said Todd McClutchy, a principal with JHM Financial Group in Stamford.

JHM and The Richman Group of Greenwich were selected as co-developers by the Housing Authority in October.

The authority, in cooperation with Mayor Bill Finch's Democratic administration, wants to begin to upgrade its low-income housing with mixed-income developments.

Tenants -- including those attending a Housing Authority meeting across town Monday -- complain of crime, poor maintenance and problems with mold and pests like mice and bed bugs.

The 78 units planned for 375 Main Street -- a key 2.5 acres on the border between downtown and the South End -- would be the first of several phases to replace the 400-plus-apartment Marina Village.

The approval process dragged on through the fall and winter, as the authority's staff worked to address critics' concerns and strengthen their presentation to zoning officials.

Ultimately, on Monday, the authority's lawyer, representatives for JHM and The Richman Group and Adam Wood, Mayor Bill Finch's chief of staff, made a successful case for the project. The hearing itself lasted over two hours, but it took Zoning Commission members only a matter of minutes to vote "yes."

Many of the same opponents who have been fighting the development made one last attempt Monday. They argued that the proposed location -- in a flood zone, next to train tracks and in the shadow of the city's coal plant -- was inappropriate.

"Historically, the poor and marginalized people have always borne the brunt of consequences of environmental disasters," wrote Sharon Lewis, executive director of the Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice, in a letter to the Zoning Commission. "This area is best suited for land uses that do not require exposing humans to harm."

Others feared that the mixed-income model would prove a failure, and the development would further decrease the neighborhood's property values.

Even Zoning Chairman Mel Riley expressed skepticism when he learned that eight of the 78 units would be sold as condominiums for $350,000. The original plan lacked any home ownership -- something neighbors insisted was a mistake.

"Why the heck do you think you can get $350,000?" Riley said.

Stephen Studer, the Housing Authority's attorney, said it is a good location, close to downtown, the Webster Bank Arena, public transportation and Seaside Park.

Nancy Hadley, the city's former redevelopment chief, submitted a six-page letter against the proposal. Hadley argued in part that the city, which is also courting developers to add more entertainment around the arena, should make that a priority before pursuing housing.

But Wood argued the opposite, saying 375 Main Street would be "a stark indicator our city is on the rise."

"Let these buildings indicate Bridgeport is growing in a positive direction," Wood said.

In the past, Riley had expressed some impatience with the Housing Authority when staff members were not adequately prepared for their hearing. But on Monday, he and some of his fellow commission members were clearly weary of listening to critics repeat the same concerns.

A few times, Riley urged speakers not to repeat points made by others.

"We've been on this issue for two hours, and we think it's about time to wrap it up," he said.

Staff writer Keila Torres Ocasio contributed to this story.

Since: Aug 10

Location hidden

#2 Apr 14, 2014
Just another site, for killings, drug buying and selling, and tenants getting drunk. Junk here and there, pissing in the hallways, babies being born to under age girls, who do not know who their many babies, daddies are. Shame on Finch.
America Gentleman Samuel

Sherman, CT

#3 Apr 15, 2014
Just another site, for killings, drug buying and selling, and tenants getting drunk. Junk here and there, pissing in the hallways, babies being born to under age girls, who do not know who their many babies, daddies are.
I'm in. Where do I sign up. I don't need cable TV anymore with entertainment like this.

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