Developer Plans Apartments in Former Middletown Mill
By Nathan Brown
A local social services agency and a development company have been awarded $2.9 million from the state to turn an old factory into workforce housing.
Plans call for the boarded-up, red brick building at the corner of Mill and Harding Streets to become 42 apartments, helping families in an area where affordable housing can be tough to find, says Charles Darden, executive director of the Regional Economic Community Action Program.
“This is meeting an immediate need of young families that are looking to paying a reasonable rent,” he said.
Patrick Normoyle, a principal in Excelsior Housing Group and one of the developers, said the main building and an outbuilding will be renovated and look similar to how they appear now. A couple of other buildings on the property would be torn down, and a large four-story addition would be built toward the back of the former mill. A branch of the Fresh Start Cafe, which provides culinary arts job training for welfare recipients, is slated to open a third branch in the mill’s first floor.
About $1.9 million of the award is a housing trust fund loan; $900,000 is in federal housing credits, and the rest, about $100,000, is a grant related to the cafe. Now that they have the state money, Normoyle said, they can get private loans to fund the rest of the project.
Normoyle is partners in the development company, Mill Street Partners, with Magnus Magnusson, who owns Magnusson Architecture and Planning and designed the project. They’ve been working on it since early 2011.
The mill, formerly a hat and silk factory, and then a furniture manufacturing plant, has been vacant since 1978. Normoyle said that State Historic Preservation Office officials support their reuse plan.
“They were thrilled somebody was going to come in here and try to rehab the building before it’s too late,” he said.
Sixty percent of the units would be for families with children. Thirteen apartments are to be set aside for people in designated “special needs” groups; Darden said female veterans are one of the groups they plan to reserve apartments for. There will be two studio apartments, 15 one-bedrooms, 22 two-bedrooms and three, three-bedrooms. Normoyle said construction is expected to take 14 to 15 months, so if they start this fall, the apartments will be ready in early 2015.
The property was approved as senior housing in 2004; in 2011, the Planning Board removed the 55 and older restriction, said Mayor Joe DeStefano. He said they were looking into whether or not the project needs any other planning or zoning approvals from the city.
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