Big plans for fixing Bridgeport's front door
Posted in the Trumbull Forum
#1 Mar 7, 2014
Sound like Next Father Panic ?
BRIDGEPORT -- If Interstate-95 is Bridgeport's front door, it's certainly one with several nicks in the wood.
Nicks and blemishes a New York company is hoping to help fix with a multi-million dollar renovation of several derelict factory buildings off exit 26.
The buildings now offer drivers a view of shattered windows and graffiti.
"The perception of Bridgeport right now is what you see from exit 25 to 29," said Gary Flocco, managing partner for developer Corvus Capital Partners.
But despite the significant investment in their area, members of the West Side/West End Neighborhood Revitalization Zone worry that plans to set aside the majority of apartments for low income families will bring more crime and debris and discourage market-rate developments in their neighborhoods.
Just a few years ago, controversial developer Garfield Spencer received zoning approval to convert the part of the city block along Cherry Street, which housed the NEST Art Factory, into more than 100 apartments.
The plan fell through because the U-shaped mill complex was more interconnected than the individual property owners had realized, said David Kooris, the city's economic development chief.
Corvus is now the contract purchaser of the entire city block, bounded by Cherry Street and Railroad, Hancock and Howard avenues.
The company plans to convert the factories into a gated community of 314 mixed-income units. A parking garage will replace Spencer's Cherry Street property, which was destroyed by fire a few years ago.
A commercial building will also be part of the project, which Kooris estimates could cost $100 million.
"The way we're looking at it is we're making a small city within a city," Flocco said. His plan will go before the city's Planning and Zoning Commission on March 31.
But neighborhood residents worry about the logic of placing low income families in a confined area. The model is one public housing complexes, plagued by crime, have been moving away from in recent years.
"We've seen what bad management is like," said Frank Borres, president of the NRZ. "We live here. We have to live with what Mr. Flocco builds in our community. And let's be clear, this is going to be low income housing."
The majority of the units in Flocco's development, or 55 percent, will be set aside for working class families making 60 percent of the median income. Another 25 percent will be Section 8 units, with the remaining 20 percent renting at market rate.
Neighborhood resident Vanessa Liles said she would like to see some way for the NRZ to be proactive in ensuring the place does not become a litter-strewn problem in the city.
"We have residents who don't take care of their property," added Rev. Geoffrey Hahneman, rector of St. John's Episcopal Church.
Flocco, who agreed to meet regularly with the NRZ at a recent meeting, said he's a hands-on developer who will not allow the project to fail.
"I'm going to be on the site," he said. "We're not going to build this and leave. We're going to be a part of the community."
In fact, once this project is completed, the developer plans to build market-rate apartments in the block directly to the west, he told neighborhood residents.
Flocco and Kooris agreed that the project is an opportunity to rid the city of a prominent eyesore while capitalizing on the expected growth of the city's Eco-Technology Park nearby.
"I think the time is now," Flocco said. "There will be jobs created. Those people are going to need housing."
Kooris said the project will be modeled after the housing phase of Teachers Village in Norwalk.
"We'll be targeting the workforce across the region, having housing that meets the needs of our teachers, our carpenters, the builders who build our community," he said.
Since: Aug 10
#2 Mar 7, 2014
Sounds like a bad deal to me and more corruption which we can expect.
#3 Mar 8, 2014
I prefer the back door
#5 Mar 9, 2014
Otherwise known as "NOT in MAH naybuhood you don't!"
What do you call it when it's all within the same species and you can't call it racism when the relatively smart (ones) KNOW that the lowlife (ones) are gonna drag-down the entire area?
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