Developers make their case for Trumbull apartment complex
TRUMBULL —Developers of the planned Residences at Main hope to break ground on the 260-unit apartment complex adjacent to Westfield mall in early 2021, with the first tenants moving in by mid-2022.
The developers, in a three-hour presentation to the Planning and Zoning Commission July 15, filled in some details of the proposal and answered questions on their 627-page zoning application. The presentation included traffic analysis, comparisons to similar mixed retail and residential zones, landscape and architectural renderings and more. The commission will resume the hearing at its August 19 meeting.
Commission Chairman Fred Garrity opened the meeting explaining to the public watching the meeting via Zoom that the commission’s current role is to determine if the application meets the requirements for a mixed use design district, which the commission had created in 2018.
“We’re here to talk about an application being made toward a regulation that already exists from 2018,” Garrity said. While some current commissioners may have voted against creating the mixed use zone, the fact is that it passed and is now part of Trumbull’s regulations, he said.
Garrity cautioned against “disinformation” and “misinformation” circulating on social media and promised a meticulous review of the entire application.
“We’re not going to be done until we’ve gone over all the details,” he said.
Leonard Glickman, of the real estate management firm Rose Equities, also indirectly mentioned social media rumors, stating that the application would be fact-based and the hearing would be conducted based on fact.
“Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but no one is entitled to their own set of facts,” he said.
In his brief comments to the commission, Glickman said the target demographics for the development young professionals and empty-nesters, with an estmated average income of about $150,000.
“These will be renters of choice, not renters of need,” he said.
Scott Loventhal, of Garden Homes Management, explained that “renters of choice” were people who could afford to live in many different types of housing, but chose what he called a pedestrian-centered, town center style community.
“If their lifestyle changes, they would have the opportunity to garden style, townhome, or single family home,” he said.
In his presentation, Loventhal explained the rationale for the developers’ projection that there would be about 27 school-age children living in the apartments. Even though the bulk of the units would have two bedrooms, Loventhal said most of those two bedroom units would only have one or two people living in them.
“That second bedroom tends to function as a home office, or a television room,” he said.
Young couples that move into the apartments could certainly have children while living there. But by the time the child was ready to start school five years later, the couple likely would have decided to move on to different housing, he said.
“In looking at the nearby Ten Trumbull apartment complex, there are currently 60 occupied units, and three school-aged children,” he said.
Traffic going into and out of the complex generated a series of questions from the commissioners. Michael Dion, who conducted the traffic study for the applicants, explained that there would be a gated entrance into the complex directly off Main Street to accomodate residents exiting the nearby Merritt Parkway. However, traffic exiting the complex onto Main Street would be restricted to right-turn only. All other traffic would exit onto the mall’s ring road and leave the complex via the mall’s Main Street or Madison Avenue exits.
Garrity questioned whether the intersection where traffic from the mall exits onto Main Street would require upgrades to accomodate renters leaving and heading toward the parkway. Athough there are two left-turn lanes for those exiting the mall, with separate turn lanes for the northbound and southbound parkway traffic, it is clear that drivers don’t fully understand the traffic patterns, Garrity said.
“That turn needs some love and attention, especially with the fact that we’re going to be sending 50 cars a day around it,” he said.
Dion replied that residents would be leaving the mall at a time when there are unlikely to be shoppers or mall employees exiting and that the additional traffic would be minimal, but agreed to deliver a more detailed answer at the commission’s August meeting.
“We’re happy to take a look at it,” he said.