The West Hartford Town Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a special development district at 24 N. Main St. for a developer to demolish the existing office building and construct an 18-unit apartment complex in its place.
Despite the redevelopment requiring several variances - such as for building height, setbacks and open space requirements - and near-maximum coverage allowed on a lot (39.9 percent out of a possible 40 percent), town councilors were enthusiastic about the project, as it fills a specific need in the West Hartford Center area.
“I look at the footprint of the existing building and the one that’s proposed, and it’s going to be a big building,” Councilor Clare Kindall said. “You are also asking for a fairly long list [of variances]. But there is a lot to be said for redevelopment and spending the time to make it beautiful. Additional rental space is what we need.”
Councilor Burke Doar agreed.
“This is a very dense project,” Doar said. “But given the location in town and the need for additional rental units and the entrepreneurial spirit of the owners to improve what’s currently there weighs in its favor.”
Councilor Judy Casperson said that some of the concessions that the developer looked for - including a waiver of the open space from 3,600 square feet to zero - was “concerning.”
“But replacing what’s there currently is worth it,” Casperson said.
Architect Jack Kemper said that the developer was providing 3,256 square feet of open space, only not the kind recognized in the regulations. Specifically, Kemper said that terraces and balconies were being built that would serve as open space.
The project calls for 11 one-bedroom and seven two-bedroom apartments whose rents will be on par with that of similar apartments in Blue Back Square, according to Alan Koerner, attorney for the developer 24 N. Main St. LLC. Councilor Leon Davidoff said that one-bedroom apartments in Blue Back Square is $1,810 per month and two-bedroom apartments cost $2,800 per month. Koerner said that he did not know the exact rents for the project.
Koerner said that the interiors will have an “upmarket and sleek” look, with bamboo floors and an open design.
There will be a front courtyard and an underground garage for parking, Kemper said. Traffic would not be impacted significantly, he said.
The only item that councilors changed was the time for trash pickup. The developer sought to have a pickup time of 6 a.m., which councilors unanimously changed to 8 a.m.
Agreeing with his fellow councilors, Mayor Scott Slifka said that the project is a relatively small investment. But there are long-term benefits regarding stimulating additional investment in the area.
“I look forward to whatever comes next,” Slifka said. “It looks great. It’s going to be a gorgeous building. I see you took time and care to make it look particularly unique. … This really is a quality project.”