by| Mar 17, 2021 10:30 am
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Posted to: Housing, Downtown, Community Management Teams
One hundred thirty-five new apartments will stand at the corner of Orange and Grove streets next year, as part of the second phase of The Audubon complex.
Two blocks away, a hotel planned by the same developer remains on hold as the hospitality industry’s Covid-19 downturn continues.
“We’re constantly inquiring with lenders and banks about what the market is like for hotel construction. It’s still lukewarm,” Spinnaker Vice President Frank Caico said of the 80 Elm St. project.
Caico provided these updates Tuesday evening to the Downtown-Wooster Square Community Management Team.
Renters have been living in the first phase of The Audubon, a 269-apartment complex with a garage at its center. Construction started on the first phase in 2018 and was done by 2020. These apartments are now 90 percent leased, Caico said.
The second phase of construction fills out the Grove Street side of the block with 135 more apartments and ground-floor retail space. Caico expects construction to continue through the rest of this year and for apartments to be ready for tenants by the spring of 2022.
Neighbor Kevin McCarthy asked at Tuesday evening’s virtual meeting to hear Spinnaker’s strategies for filling that retail space, particularly during the Covid-19 economic downturn.
The restaurant industry is still a good bet, Caico revealed. The street-food-focused eatery El Segundo has moved into the restaurant space in the first phase of The Audubon and seems to be thriving.
Early conversations with restauranteurs and a few other retail companies about the Grove Street spaces has Caico feeling cautiously optimistic.
The South Norwalk-based developer also has approval for a third phase, a townhouse-style building planned for 29 Audubon St. This would put another 66 apartments on what is now a parking lot (pictured above). All told, the complex is expected to cost $160 million.
The Audubon as it stands now is a high-end complex, with a pool, a rooftop terrace, and a sleek coffee bar in the lobby. The Audubon’s leasing website shows studios starting at $1,776 a month. The largest apartment size currently available are one-bedrooms rentable for up to $2,392 a month.
A Boutique Hotel?
One Spinnaker project not moving along is the hotel planned for 80 Elm St. Newly-elected management team chair Ian Dunn asked about the hotel’s status during Caico’s presentation. The site is currently a dirt hole next to the city Hall of Records where a bank once stood.
While lenders still do not want to support a hotel project, Caico expects to see some change in that attitude by the end of the year. He hopes to restart the hotel project by 2022 or 2023.
In the meantime, Spinnaker is considering changing which hotel fills out the six-story building planned for the site. The company is in talks with a more boutique brand for the hotel, rather than the Hilton Garden Inn originally approved. Otherwise, the 80 Elm building plans remain the same.
Tags: Spinnaker, Audubon Square, Frank Caico, Downtown-Wooster Square Community Management Team
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Emily: Thanks for this report. Any update on the planned apartment complex at 201 Munson Street?
New Haven has seen very little growth in population over the last few decades. Where are all these new renters coming from?
New Haven has a large transient population, which makes it difficult to have census accuracy. Clearly there’s demand as these apartments aren’t sitting empty.
[Paul: I’ve been long wondering about this question, too. There has been a gradual population increase in recent years. One downtown landlord said many of the tenants are law, medical, and business grad students from Yale. In some cases people commute or regularly train to New York, including some people in marriages where one person works here. But I think we need to dig deeper to find out!]
Yes, where are all the new city residents coming from? Is the recent pandemic influx of out of state people moving here a temporary move or a more permanent one? Is the new neuroscience hospital center and the other science, pharmaceutical, medicine and technology businesses that are locating here expected to draw more market rate tenants? I questioned the need for all the new hotels being built in the greater New Haven area, and while the pandemic put a hold on travel, I’m sure once we’ve reached herd immunity that market will resurge to its original status, but what is drawing hotel customers here to NH? I’d like to know more about the population market research that is making development of market rate units and hotel patrons so attractive to investors and developers in our area.
You can have an increase in the number of households (and therefore in the demand for dwelling units) without necessarily an increase in the number of individuals. A smaller and smaller portion of households nationwide fit the stereotyped parents-and-several-children profile.
Related, though slightly off topic is what is NH’s actual population… I remember being a little surprised when the 2010 census came out, NH’s population was basically at 130,000 even with the housing units that had been built in the years before that. But the real boom has happened since then. Considering that 360 State opened right after the 2010 census, and all the units built, hasn’t the population increased at least by 7000-10,000 if we just go by # units constructed, average residents per unit, and 90%+ occupancy rates? Even with the concern of undercounting for the 2020 census, I think we will have to be skeptical if the population is determined to be any less than 135,000-137,000.
I have said this before, but the fact is that the total number of new apartments over the last decade is very low. There are more than 50,000 existing housing units in New Haven. We saw between 0-500 new apartments per year over the 2010s, usually on the lower side. Frequent NHI commenter Kevin McCarthy notes that this may barely compensate for older units lost to neglect. Further, as others noted, average household size is declining, so it takes more units to support a constant population.
I think roughly 750 units were permitted in New Haven last year. To grow the population, we may have to meet that rate each year for many years. The new residents would be workers who work in New Haven but currently rent a sad apartment surrounded by parking lots in the suburbs. It would also be new residents who work elsewhere in the region, but prefer New Haven’s walkable amenities. Plenty of people work in some dismal office complex in the suburbs (or Hartford) and prefer to live in New Haven.
For the moment, if we build it they will come. There must be some limit, but we aren’t there yet.
I could be wrong, but my supposition regarding why so many people are undercounted is because the vast majority of students, especially grad students, do not change their legal residential addresses.
Imagine for a moment growing up on One Main Street, Madison, Wisconsin, and then graduating from UW and attending Yale Law. There is really no incentive to change one’s address from WI to CT.
CT is also a reliably blue state during national elections, so unlike when I was in college, most grad students know their vote is a “wasted” vote nationally. Smarter students from swing states actually make the calculation to remain a “resident” of Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania or Wisconsin b/c they know their vote is “worth more there.” (This does point to increasing obsolescence of the Electoral College).
Locally, students do not care about local races, which are reliably blue anyway. (This speaks to a larger problem that most “races” are gerrymandered and not competitive but I digress yet again). Does anyone remember the name of the last Republican to run for Mayor of New Haven?
One need only stroll through the parking garages or East Rock to see a plethora of out of state plates…
Thus, most grad students do not legally change their residences to reflect the census requirement that:
“People are counted at their usual residence, which is the place where they live and sleep most of the time.”
But it may be a good thing if they did, so that states w/ a more educated population have more representation in DC, but while Nate Silver would probably second that sentiment, Yale alum JD Vance might not.
A couple of points.
First, Gretchen is, as usual, correct. Population and the number of households are separate variables. As average household size continues to decline, you need more units to house the same population. Nationally, about 30% of households consist of single individual, which goes a long way in explaining why so many new apartment units are studios and one bedrooms.
Second, you need to look at subtractions to the housing supply as well as additions. There are about 50,000 housing units in the city. Let’s say that the average unit has a lifespan of 100 years and that on average 1% of housing is removed from the market each year. This can be the result of obsolescence, fire or other catastrophe, or conversion to other uses. This suggests a need to add 500 units per year just to keep even.
I live two blocks from this development. More restaurants would be fine, but a bit more variety in retail would be welcome.
The new apartments are needed for the new neuroscience buildings and probably the new Wu tsai institute. A small city that is so promising. They need something to attract folks to live here. Hopefully some of these new buildings will have some affordable units in them. I would also like to add that we need to also clean up the city from trash and violence not just for new comers but for the long lasting residents. I’m frankly tired of the lack of pride.
As global warming barrels down the pike, does anyone know what sustainability features are required for these apartment buildings?
Or are there no restrictions when it comes to saving energy in New Haven’s new apartment complexes.
I recently spoke with a shop owner on lower Chapel about the Audubon. She said with eating places inside the complex, it tends to stop foot traffic downtown.
If there will be retail shops and a restaurant on the ground floor of one of these complexes, how will that affect businesses downtown?
Or should those of us who live downtown, just plan for the “ghost town” affect?
Also, I don’t see how these huge, block style apartment buildings harmonize with any downtown historic buildings OR with Yale for that matter.
Maybe they’ll plant a lot of tall trees?
Wesunidad, CT has a state building code that is decent on sustainability. The code is updated every three years in a process that makes the adoption of legislation look straightforward. Municipalities cannot adopt their own codes, although there have been proposals to allow them to adopt a “stretch code” with stricter sustainability provisions.
Shadowboxer, the Census Bureau does its best to count people where they actually live, which may not be their legal address. It even tries to count homeless individuals.
Kevin McCarthy….Thank you! You’re very informative as usual!
Esteban—- all the renters dying to pay top dollar to live in a beehive are coming from the skies!!!
so there’s a shortage of affordable housing in the city, and the city allows new units to be built with rents at over $1700 and $2300 a month? makes no sense. why couldn’t these properties be developed by someone like say the housing authority who are trying to force suburbs to adjust their zoning laws to accomodate them and usurp the rights of the taxpayers in those cities, as affordable housing units?
pdr423, I’ve mentioned this elsewhere…. the real reason NH is seeking to push affordable housing on to places like Woodbridge is because NH wants to reinvent itself by doing what places like NYC did in the 1990s: push the poor out, and bring in the affluent – thereby making the tax roles greater as property values go up, and bringing down crime at the same time.
It’s a win win for the cities, and those displaced wind up getting a taste of suburban life, which must be a culture shock to some I would imagine, but then again maybe not.
What is affordable housing anyway ??
Is it $600 – $800 a month rents ??
Homes for $150 K
Condos/Coops for less than $100 k with all the bells and whistles ??
I’m just curious… because I am well aware of the stigma that comes with affordable housing.
Does it include vouchers ?? Section 8/title 19 ??
My city is looking to do all market rate [what the hell does that mean ??] apartments like across the river has been doing for quite sometime now, although I can’t help but wonder just how many apartments are truly needed here along the New Haven Fairfield county line – is our population really going up by that much ??
If NH is to remain the land of opportunity for extremely well off non-profits, then NH needs to generate their revenue elsewhere, and there’s no better place to start than by soaking the homeowner.
If property values go up, tax revenue goes up too.
It’s that simple.
That’s why apartment complexes like these in the article get the green light.
I’d be curious what the prices will be in there once I am ready to retire, as my main retirement goals include no longer having to drive a car.
Although my gut reaction to luxury condos like this is usually to feel pretty wary, I remember reading somewhere that these types of developments can actually suppress the pricing of surrounding rental units. I wonder if anyone knows more about this or has an idea of how this will affect the rental market. This along with the development right at the end of Wooster Street means a lot more housing stock, but almost all of it is luxury. (Are there any units secured for affordable housing?)
As to the interesting discussion about stable population size vs. changing household size – as a young New Haven resident, I can say that makes sense for my experience at least. I would love to see more (affordable) 1 bedrooms.
PDR: The housing market is almost 100% determined by the private market. Developers will only build something if they can turn a profit.
Unless Biden and Congress pass a budget that includes a 10,000% increase in housing subsidies (something I would love to see), then building more new housing is the only realistic way to get more affordable housing in our area.
Requiring developers to include affordable housing is nice in theory, but if it’s too aggressive it could slow the supply of new housing and thereby make prices rise for everyone. Subsidies are a great idea overall, but we should keep in mind that the $300,000 the government spends to subsidize the cost of a new housing unit could also be used for things like infrastructure or brownfield remediation that make it easier for developers to add supply more quickly. Another approach is to roll back zoning and parking requirements, so that developers can easily build large housing complexes in Woodbridge, for example.
Generally speaking, the new units of today become the affordable housing of tomorrow. For example, the hundreds of large homes near Saint Raphael’s hospital were built for the “top 1%” of the 1880’s, but they are now relatively affordable as multi-family apartments.
pdr423, there is nothing in the bill that deals with housing authorities (H.B. 6430, favorably reported by the Committee on Housing) that affects zoning law. If you disagree, please give me a line cite.
ge.wat_NYC, most of the market rate housing developments in New Haven have been built on former parking lots. Others (Strouse, Adler and the Corsair) were built on the sites of empty factories. Another site was the former Red Cross building. There were no poor people (or residents of any sort) on any of these sites to push out. Rents are rising faster than incomes, which is a real problem. But this happening in areas where there is no development as well as in those where there is extensive development.
ok Kevin, thanks for explaining this to me.
PS hope you had a happy St Paddy’s Day 🙂
Dear anonymous, I think the handouts to developers with the fake demand of “affordable” units has given builders tax breaks, tax deductions, tax forgiveness and this adds up to PLENTY OF PROFIT.
No one will build for the poor or low income because there is NO profit in that and more trouble than they are worth. So—-The govt must build these projects.
I also don’t see any of the bleeding hearts donating their property to be made into low income units or maybe renting out rooms in their homes to poor drug addicts and ex-cons. They wish to impose their charitable inclination bills on others while they stand back and weep for the poor.
All of that money talk aside, I moved from the segregated white suburb of Branford to downtown New Haven seeking diversity. Why? Because it makes me feel balanced. The world has changed in terms of some counties becoming more diverse.
The white man, knowing this is reality is freaking out because he could be the minority group he has exploited for decades. Cry me a river!
My worry about all of these new apartment places is that the new occupants might be mostly white people with $$$ and the demographics of New Haven might change in this direction.
Say it isn’t so!
Don’t worry; wesunidad—- if all the nasty white people move into the new condos/apts, there are plenty of diverse areas of NH that you can go to!!! Also—“Look at me—I moved to a diverse area” —- You have a choice—can the rest of us also have a choice in where and with whom we want to live??????? Or does the dictatorship of the proletariat forbid it?
Anonymous, I largely agree with you. Cities and towns in the region should encourage the development of housing, both market rate and subsidized.
But New Haven’s affordability problem is not primarily due to to a shortage of units, but rather a shortage of income. The New Haven market has a rental vacancy rate only slightly below the national rate (5.7% vs. 6.0%). The inflation-adjusted median rent in New Haven has been essentially flat for the past ten years, notwithstanding the addition of thousands of new units. The median rent in the city is virtually the same as that for the regional market. The larger problem is that far too many city residents do not have the income to afford this rent.
If housing production were to dramatically increase, as you have urged, rents would go down. But as you note “developers will only build something if they can turn a profit.” I suspect Spinnaker et al. are making a profit on their current developments. Were production to increase dramatically, I’m not so sore.
WV: Yes, demand for older apartments has gone down. Rents are at least stable, and may slip slightly. People who want and can afford a new place with straight walls can rent here rather than a third floor apartment in East Rock.or Dwight. Sure, there are professional students, but also twenty-somethings starting their careers who do not want the responsibilities of house maintenance and want a short commute. There is, however, a floor below which rents cannot fall simply because costs, even absent a mortgage payment, cannot be covered. These costs include repairs, insurance, and taxes. So, while a former Norton Street landlord was charging only $900/month for a three bedroom, he was, also, letting the place rot to the point of collapse. If rents cannot support basic costs, we will once again see abandonment and arson.
WV, to (belatedly) get back to your question, I don’t believe that any of the developments in Wooster Square have units that are subsidized to make them affordable to low- or moderate-income people. (In addition to the development at the end of Wooster, there are two large developments on Chapel Street, and two small developments, one on Olive and one recently opened at the former St. Michael’s school and convent. A couple of dozen of the several hundred units going up in the Hill are subsidized.