Apartments marketed to WestConn students
By Elizabeth Putnam
Brookview Commons on Crosby Street in Danbury, a 115-unit apartment complex marketed to Western Connecticut State University students, is scheduled to open in August.
DANBURY -- A new Crosby Street apartment complex marketed just for college students is on track to open in August.
The developer, BRT, will rent all of its 115-unit apartment building to Western Connecticut State University students. The building, called Brookview Commons, offers furnished studios and one- and two-bedroom apartments and is on WestConn's shuttle bus route.
"We are doing well. About 15 percent of our units are reserved. It's going to be great energy for downtown," said Dan Bertram, a principal in BRT.
BRT, which officially began marketing the development to students last month but had been considering the option for several months, also likely will keep the tax incentive it received from the city in 2005 to build downtown housing.
The incentive allows BRT to pay a flat fee of about $25,000 in annual property taxes for seven years, after which the taxes will jump to about $340,000.
After BRT announced that it might rent the complex to students earlier this year, some city officials questioned whether the incentive should be rescinded.
BRT never agreed in writing or verbally to build market-rate housing for families and can rent its new complex to college students, according to a recent review by the city's corporation counsel.
"The possibility that the apartment building may ultimately have ... an occupant class that has been changed as a result of a market need is therefore insufficient to rescind ...," Deputy Corporation Counsel Les Pinter said in a report to the mayor and Common Council.
Democrats said BRT received the deferral with the understanding that the company would build "middle-income, market-rate housing for families."
"Although this legal opinion rules out rescinding the tax giveaways, the fact remains that the developer violated the spirit of the agreement with the city, which underscores the need to more closely scrutinize any such proposals in the future," Democratic caucus leader Tom Saadi said Monday in an e-mail.
The corporation counsel's report will go before the Common Council today, where it likely will be accepted by the Republican-majority council.
Saadi, however, said the city needs to do more to restrict tax incentives.
"The city should amend the ordinance and limit these types of tax deferrals and abatements to those businesses and industries that create long-term jobs in our city and increase our tax base, not weaken it," he said.
BRT received a similar tax incentive to build about 560 condominium units on Kennedy Avenue. That tax deferral will benefit the condo buyers, who will pay no property taxes for seven years.
Construction of that project is expected to start this spring.
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I don't know about you, but this isn't what I had in mind when I heard that BRT was building "downtown housing." I had in mind a lot of working singles and families who wanted to be near public transportation, restaurants, shops, and grocery stores, not a building full of transitory college students.
I wonder what this signals for the fate of the "luxury condo" project scheduled for the empty parking lot that used to be the old Amphenol property?