Plans to build new senior and disabled housing ahead of schedule
DARIEN — Plans to relocate the elderly and disabled residents and demolish Old Town Hall Houses is ahead of schedule.
“As soon as the last person is physically moved we can begin taking steps to start the demolition,” said Joseph Warren, chairman of the Housing Authority, who oversees the public housing development.
Originally, the Housing Authority planned to have residents relocated by Jan. 1. With three residents out of 18 left, everybody is scheduled to be moved out by Nov. 6. With the announcement, Warren said they could break ground for the demolition as early as the beginning of the new year.
To relocate tenants the Housing Authority approved $654,917 in July. In addition to this, the State’s Department of Housing gave a $6 million loan to Old Town Hall Houses to help develop the new units.
“Normally we would do the closings all at once and we would take the money coming from state funding as a lump sum,” Warren said. “We’re not going to do that. We’re going to take it as two separate chunks.”
One would go toward the demolition and the second would go to reconstructing the building, he said. Doing this will ensure the Housing Authority doesn’t lose time gained by relocating everyone so quickly.
“It’s so we can jump-start the demolition,” Warren said. “We’re going to move as quickly as we possibly can.”
The projected amount of time for tenants to be off-site while the redevelopment occurred was 16 months. Warren said having everyone relocated ahead of time was good news, but they have to continue the pace.
“If we fall back on schedule, then we end up having them relocated for a longer period than expected,” he said. “Then whatever we gained on the front end we could lose at the back end.”
Allen Delaney, president of the Old Town Hall Houses Association, said the process was handled efficiently. Delaney was the first resident to be moved in July. He chose to be relocated to Jamestown Rhode Island with family
As one of several residents that will need special needs accommodation, Delaney hopes to see an outline of the new structure.
“We haven’t seen the actual plans yet,” Delaney said. “I would like for everybody to get a copy of those to at least look at the floor plan.”
The residents moved out will be given priority in choosing their unit once the new building is established.
“It will be done by seniority. Whoever lived there the longest has the first choice,” Delaney said.
Old Town Hall Houses’ residents are still kept in touch with the help of the Human Services Department at Town Hall, he said. Every first Tuesday of every month the residents meet at the senior center for a coffee together. The relocation process has been handled with care, he said.
“They had to give us six months, which they did, but they worked very diligently within the first month instead of waiting all six,” Delaney said.