NEW LONDON — Officials and well-wishers enjoyed the harbor view from the sunny fourth floor deck of The Docks, a new 137-unit building at 500 Bank St., before stepping indoors for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of construction on Thursday.
On the deck, pre-ceremony, Jason Kambitsis, senior vice president of acquisitions and development for AR Building Co. of Pittsburgh, which developed the building, said there had been many concepts for the 2.5-acre site formerly known as Perkins Green.
“Since we’ve been working on this, there were myriad ideas that happened on this property before, but we’ve always looked at this as a 4-story building. We originally had it at 98 units and then as we started the construction we said we need to up the unit count to make it work, so we focused on doing a lot more one-bedrooms than we had originally, and we got it to 137 units.”
Kambitsis soon joined by Mayor Mike Passero, City Council President Efrain Dominguez Jr., City Councilor Curtis Goodwin, AR Building President Daniel Mancosh, Director of Economic Development and Planning Felix Reyes and others, inside and was handed a large blue pair of scissors to cut the wide red ribbon at the proper moment.
Passero told the crowd that shortly after he was elected, Kambitsis and Mancosh met with him to talk about projects in New London and went on to build 60 Mansfield Road, a residential apartment building, in 2017.
“They’ve been terrific partners from day one,” Passero said.
The Docks represented an important piece of downtown New London’s economic development, said Passero.
“This is what Felix Reyes would call a ‘keystone project’ for the revitalization of our downtown area. It checks all the boxes. It truly is transit-oriented development and a type of inventory of housing that we just don’t have in the downtown district. It’s going to deliver a quality of life and a lifestyle for our residents in our downtown that we haven’t been able to supply prior to this,” he said.
Passero said the complex would bring a synergy to downtown businesses. “It’s going to stand up our small businesses downtown and help with everything else we’re trying to accomplish here.”
Reyes, who said he grew up in New London, told the audience that the success of New London was due to the hard work and contributions of the city’s residents and businesses.
“It’s everyone in this room, it’s everyone that loves New London, everyone that lives here, that shops here, that dines here, that enjoys the culture here, that volunteers. It’s that reason that someone like AR Builder comes here and says, ‘This is a viable town, this is a place I want to invest,’” said Reyes.
He noted that a groundbreaking was scheduled after the ceremony for another AR Building project, Mansfield II, an 86-unit building on Georgetown Road.
“It’s not over yet. I’ll bet anyone that New London is the only city in the state of Connecticut that has a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a groundbreaking on the same day. That’s a powerful thing to see,” he said.
Kambitsis told CT Examiner that his company has about 20 projects in underserved markets the Connecticut and Rhode Island area that are either completed or in process.
He said he had projects in Brookfield, Groton, and was looking around Hartford. “We’re kind of looking anywhere that makes sense.”
His company chose to build in New London because of the city’s potential for growth, Kambitsis said.
“It was just a place that had been underserved for so many years. When you come to a place that has a growing job market, rapidly changing demographics and no new apartments, you start saying, ‘Maybe we should be here.’ That’s really what it was. Take that on top of the fact that you have a willing community that wants development and people that want to work with you.”
He said about one quarter of The Docks was already leased.
The building contains mostly studios — known as “carriage apartments” — and one-bedroom apartments, with only about nine two-bedroom units. The carriage apartments range from 443 to 629 square feet and cost between $1,110 and $1,330 per month. One bedrooms vary from 702 to 876 square feet, with prices from $1,415 to $1,785. Two bedroom apartments range from 1066 to 1,103 square feet and cost prices between $1,910 and $1,995.
A $175 per month amenities package includes basic cable and internet, trash pick-up, snow removal, gym maintenance, landscaping, building and emergency maintenance, free copies, use of car battery charger and use of tire inflator kit. Pets add $40 per month to the rent, plus a $350 non-refundable pet fee per pet. There is also a one-time, non-refundable application fee of $75 and administration fee of $275. Renters pay their own utilities for electricity and water and sewage.
Kambitsis said beyond the upcoming Mansfield II building, his company didn’t have any further projects for New London.
“But we are looking,” he said.