New Haven, CT - Governor Dannel P. Malloy on Tuesday joined state Department of Housing (DOH) commissioner Evonne M. Klein, executives from Forest City Residential Development, New Haven Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. and other state and local officials to break ground on the construction of The Winchester Lofts, part of a two-phase $59.26 million project to turn the long-vacant, former Winchester Repeating Arms Co. factory into a mixed-use property with office space and housing units. Located at the edge of Yale University campus, The Winchester Lofts is Phase II of the project and was financed in part by a DOH $4 million Competitive Housing Assistance for Multifamily Properties (CHAMP) grant for affordable housing which, at the time, was administered by the state Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD).
“Allocating funding for quality, mixed-income housing is a smart investment for the state - we have already seen that it creates immediate construction jobs and industry-related activity while, over time, fueling local and regional economic growth and fostering a sense of community,” said Governor Malloy. “The Winchester Lofts project is transforming a vacant but historic factory building into affordable, safe housing that will yield a ten-fold return in private investment and economic development and attract talented workers to the area. This is what we mean when we talk about an effective public-private partnership.”
The Winchester Lofts will be developed by Forest City Enterprises (NYSE: FCE.A), a Cleveland-based, publicly-held firm engaged in the ownership, development, management and acquisition of commercial, residential and mixed-use real estate and land around the country. When completed in mid-2014, The Winchester Lofts will offer 158 mixed-income apartments of which 32 units, or about 20 percent, will be designated affordable housing. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, a housing unit is designated as affordable if it costs an occupant no more than one third of his or her annual income, where the income is less than or equal to the area median income (AMI) for the municipality where the housing is located.
Sixteen of the 32 affordable housing units at The Winchester Lofts’ will be priced for low income residents earning 60% of AMI, and the additional 16 affordable units will be priced for residents earning 100% of AMI. The affordable housing component made the project eligible to receive a competitive CHAMP grant, which helped redevelopment plans move forward in 2012 after financing issues caused the project to stall several years ago.
“Effective economic development policy includes improving quality of life and strengthening urban communities like New Haven,” said Commissioner Klein. “A project like Winchester Arms has an immediate impact on jobs at the same time it is creating an environment that is increasingly attractive to employees, and that is key for businesses to attract and retain top talent.”
After being dormant for decades and falling into a state of disrepair, the former Winchester industrial complex, renamed Science Park, has seen a significant resurgence in private investment, development and commercial tenants in recent years. Under the stewardship of the Science Park Development Corporation, a nonprofit represented by the City of New Haven, Yale University, property owners and neighborhood stakeholders, Science Park now houses more than 80-acres and a million square feet of business incubator space. Phase I of the Winchester redevelopment project focused on converting 140,000 sq. ft. of Science Park into office space for New Haven-founded technology and financial services company Higher One (NYSE: ONE) which has approximately 275 employees on site.
“Redevelopment of the Winchester factory site is a perfect example of the type of project Forest City does very well—adaptive reuse and urban mixed-use in a strong and growing market like New Haven,” said David Levey, executive vice president of development for the Forest City Residential Group. “The original character of these types of former industrial buildings, when retained and allowed to show through, provide a very distinctive living environment.”
Phases I & II of the Winchester redevelopment project are both compatible with the State of Connecticut’s Conservation and Development Policies Plan. As an urban infill and adaptive reuse development, The Winchester Lofts is being built within the existing footprint of a derelict building complex and will not require the infrastructure extensions or create the type of ground disturbances and storm water runoff typical of new construction projects. The apartment units and common areas at The Winchester Lofts will utilize energy-efficient lighting, insulation and appliances, and feature bicycle racks that will be installed around the complex for both residents and office workers. The Winchester Lofts is also well located to take advantage of New Haven’s existing public transportation infrastructure, encouraging walking and cycling and reducing the need for automobile transportation.