Edgerton housing development on hold, for now

New London — Construction will not start this year on a 72-unit mixed-income housing complex at the site of the former Edgerton School.

The owners of the Cedar Grove Avenue property failed to secure needed state funding for what is expected to be a $25 million project — a slimmed down version of what was once a $40 million, 124-unit replacement home for the residents of the troubled, federally subsidized Thames River Apartments on Crystal Avenue.

Representatives from site owner FW Edgerton LLC, the team of Massachusetts-based Peabody Properties and Affordable Housing and Services Collaborative, say they remain committed to the project.

Michael Mattos, president and executive director of Affordable Housing and Services Collaborative Inc., said applications were made in the fall for a mix of funding sources through programs administered by the Connecticut Housing Authority and Connecticut Housing Finance Authority.

The state announced in March that its funding recipients did not include FW Edgerton.

“We’re obviously a little disappointed but not overly surprised we didn’t get funded the first time around,” Mattos said.

Mattos said he has since met with CHFA officials for a debriefing and to obtain tips on how to strengthen an application he intends to submit during the next round of funding in the fall. Applications are only accepted once a year, he said.

He said that despite an evolution of what was originally envisioned at the site, “we’re not going to abandon the project.”

FW Edgerton was initially lured to town by the New London Housing Authority as it sought to comply with a stipulated court agreement that mandated new or improved homes for the residents of Thames River Apartments involved in a long-running class-action suit about the unsafe and unsanitary conditions there.

The 124-unit affordable housing proposal hit a snag, however, when the Planning and Zoning Commission denied the application. It led to a court appeal and eventual compromise — an agreement and approval of a 72-unit proposal.

The denial delayed the project for more than a year. The New London Housing Authority has since gained approval from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to move forward with plans to vacate the Crystal Avenue property and sell the land to the city. The process of relocating residents is ongoing.

Attorney Mathew Greene, who represents FW Edgerton, said the company, in addition to buying the former Edgerton School, has invested in the project not only by developing plans but by purchasing three of the properties adjacent to the former school site.

Plans for the development, called The Edgerton, include 10 buildings with a mix of two-, three- and four-bedroom units, along with a community center.

Though no activity is expected there over the next year, Greene said FW Edgerton has a management company in place to keep check on the goings on there. A man’s body was discovered in the parking lot of the former school earlier this week. The cause of his death is unknown.

Renovations to Veterans Field, adjacent to the Edgerton property, are ongoing. New London Public Works Director Brian Sear said he expects the field, with baseball diamond, retaining walls, dugouts, bleachers, restrooms and walking track, to be completed by fall.

The field is expected to be used for a variety of sporting events managed by the Parks and Recreation Commission.

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