HADDAM – Town officials were on hand on a cold Friday morning to welcome Jeff Hartmann’s Elm Tree Partners with ceremonial shovels to break ground on Blueway Commons – a 56-unit market rate apartment complex near the intersection of Saybrook and Bridge roads — one of several planned projects that could markedly change the Tylerville neighborhood west of the swing bring across the Connecticut River.
First Selectman Bob McGarry and Selectman Kate Anderson were joined a number officials to mark what was described as a significant milestone toward providing rental options in Haddam.
“Things are starting to happen in town, and this is the catalyst for a lot of it,” McGarry said.
Anderson described the breaking ground as the start of a “transformative era” for redeveloping Haddam sparked by the extension of water mains, changes to zoning and infrastructure investments by the state.
“One consistent theme we’ve seen [in municipal studies], not only in Haddam, but in the greater region, is not only a want, but a need for multifamily housing,” Anderson said. “That this project started and has progressed during COVID is really a testament to the great support that it has.”
Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce President Larry McHugh said the project would be positive not just for Haddam, but for the entire region – leading to more projects around the county.
“One goes to two, and two goes to four,” McHugh said. “You’re bringing people here that want to live here and support our businesses.”
Haddam Town Planner Bill Warner said he expects Hartmann will apply to build an additional 24 apartments in a second phase of the development.
A group of developers from Middletown and Hartford have also applied to build 42 apartments nearby at 105 Bridge Road, and the Connecticut Department of Transportation plans to build two roundabouts — one at the intersection of Saybrook and Bridge roads, and another at the intersection of Saybrook Road and the Route 9 Connector.
Meanwhile, the town is planning to build sidewalks along Bridge Road to the crossing of the Connecticut River, and the Department of Transportation will install sidewalks on the bridge to allow a safe crossing for pedestrians to East Haddam.
Hartmann said the ability to walk to the bridge and the close proximity to the Connecticut River would be major selling points when the Blueway Commons complex is completed. Hartmann said that the apartments would be marketed mainly to young professionals and empty nesters, and that opportunities for outdoor recreation like fishing and kayaking would be a draw. The easy access to Route 9 would be another draw for commuters, he said.
Warner said that with 80 possible units at Blueway Commons and 42 units proposed for 105 Bridge Rd., the market for multifamily housing in Tylerville should be satisfied. He said he hasn’t heard from any more developers interested in building housing in the area, and doesn’t expect there would be more interest there.
Bridge Road 105 LLC has proposed building 42 units of “townhouse-style” apartments at 105 Bridge Rd., near the intersection of Bridge and Saybrook roads, where the development would connect to the same water main extension that made the Blueway Commons apartments possible. Groundwater contamination has plagued Tylerville for decades and restricted development.
The Bridge Road developers are proposing to build three buildings: two apartment buildings each with 20 one-bedroom units and one two-bedroom unit, and a community center – each with its own septic system.
The developers are asking for a waiver of the town’s parking requirements of two parking spaces for every unit – which would be a total of 84 parking spaces. They propose building a parking lot with 75 parking spaces between the two buildings.
The developers’ application claims their proposal meets all of the town’s other zoning requirements. A public hearing before the Haddam Planning and Zoning Commission is scheduled for January 20th, and the developers need the commission to approve a special permit.