Darien’s Old Town Hall Homes redevelopment takes step forward
DARIEN — When the Old Town Hall Homes on the Post Road were built in 1988, they were up to industry standards. That’s no longer the case, according to John McClutchy, the developer and president of Stamford-based JHM Financial Group.
“The existing Old Town Hall Homes structure is not appropriate for the aging population that is occupying it at this point,” Mcclutchy said at the May 1 meeting of the Board of Selectmen, at which a request for the allocation of $360,000 from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund was approved.
Among the issues with the affordable and senior housing units are a lack of covered entrances, walk-up stairways for those living on second floors and lack of wheelchair accessibility, McClutchy said.
The new plan would see the 30 units in the complex expanded to 55 mostly one-bedroom and studio units, with two two-bedroom units, along with a laundry facility, community room, access computers and elevator and wheelchair accessibility.
“The building will have all the amenities a modern facility would have,” McClutchy said.
The allocation from the Darien Housing Authority Trust Fund is contingent upon approval from the Board of Finance and Representative Town Meeting, but is a small part of the roughly $22 million project’s funding.
Private resources will fund $13 million of the project, while it is hoped the state will contribute $8 million, though the latter has been applied for, but is not guaranteed. The project will have to beat out other towns also applying for subsidized affordable housing projects. McClutchy, however, believes the town is in good shape to receive the award, especially if money from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund is ultimately approved, as local interest in projects is weighed heavily by the state.
“It’s a significant amount of money. We believe that the proposed development warrants it,” McClutchy said. He noted the Old Town Hall Homes are ideally situated on the Post Road in walking distance from a grocery store, the downtown shopping district and Metro-North Railroad.
McClutchy asked, in order to make the project financially possible for his firm, that the town consider tax abatement, possibly reducing property taxes per unit below $250. The Board of Selectmen will vote separately on that issue at a later date.
First Selectman Jayme Stevenson voiced her support for the project.
“I think it’s an excellent use of the Affordable Housing Trust Fund’s money, quite simply, in that you’re leveraging the ability to go from 30 units of senior affordable housing to 55 units,” Stevenson said. “I think that is expressly called out in the mission statement of the Affordable Housing Trust Fund Commission.”
Assuming approval, construction could begin by fall, though McClutchy stressed that depends largely on the speed with which the state responds to the Old Town Hall Homes application.
The Representative Town Meeting and Board of Finance next meet May 12 and 23, respectively.