Tuesday, March 06, 2007

But Then There's This

Today's News-Times reports that BRT is definitely going to market its new Crosby Street apartments to WestConn students.

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it might rent the complex to students earlier this year, some city officials questioned whether the incentive should be rescinded.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.

# Contact Elizabeth Putnam

at eputnam@newstimes.com

or at (203) 731-3411.

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?


SeattleTammy said...

Oh, If you could see "gentrification" in Seattle. They say they leave 50 % of the ground open: McMushroom houses that "muffin-top" over the foundation. But there's plenty of ground left open, it's just always in the shade. Under a 6-to-10 foot bloat.

But not to fear, the 6 foot Cedar Privacy fence will prevent anyone from noticing.

6 foot Cedar Privacy Fences are the best Indicator, "White People ar moving into Your Neighborhood!"

Thanks for your comment at Adam's @ the General's. We do enjoy ourselves!

Sharon said...

That sounds horrible. Why do we continue to allow such ugliness to be built? Do we really hate the suburbs that much?

Anonymous said...

BRT is doing a horrible job keeping students safe. The pamplets that BRT made claim that there is a "community room" on the second floor and a "lounge" on every floor. However, to my surprise the community room has become an Resident Director office and the lounges on every floor are a couple of couches thrown in the middle of the hallway. BRT obviously did not plan the building out very well. Furthermore, they originally claimed that there would be parking available; however, they do not have enough parking spots for all of the occupants. Students have to sign a contract and abide by all the rules; however, BRT has not held up their end of the deal. If you ask BRT about the parking problem they tell you to park at Patriot Garage. They claim that they never guaranteed parking spots to all the occupants; however, in the new contract for 2008-2009 they changed the wording to say that they do not guarantee parking spots to everyone, unlike before. Also, BRT changed the rules and fines a month after I signed the contract and they enforce these rules although some of the rules were never in the original contract. If any family thinks that they would move into these apartments they should think again. The floors are uneven, the cabinets are not straight and have already started falling apart, very few of the toilets have actually been put in straight, and the elevators break daily. Also, BRT refuses to talk to students if they have a problem and treat them as subordinates rather than tenants. The supposedly "secure building" is not secure. The doors can easily be broken into (if you ask BRT about this they will deny there being a problem although the contractor was the one who notified me about the problem) and there was only a "security guard" for the first month, after which BRT decided it was too expensive to keep him employed. Not only is it ridiculous that BRT is getting a tax break for the building, much more tax dollars are paying for the numerous police calls and false fire alarms to the building per week. It is obvious that BRT is just money hungry and does not care about "improving the community."

Sharon said...

Anonymous, this is terrible! I'm not surprised there aren't enough parking spaces, since the building was not originally planned to house college students, each with his or her own car. But the other problems that you describe are intolerable. I hope you have complained to WestConn, and I think we would all very much appreciate it if you took your complaints also to the newspaper and the Common Council. They need to know the consequences of their decision to give BRT a blank check.