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Revised Meadow Gardens Housing Plan Approved by P&Z 

A look at the updated plans for Meadow Gardens, with the newly approved updates on the right. (Courtesy of Norwalk)

The Norwalk Planning and Zoning Commission voted Wednesday to approve a slightly modified site plan for the Housing Authority’s redevelopment of the Meadow Gardens complex. 

The authority plans to reduce the number of housing units on the site by one and move the community center from the middle of the complex to the side. Last year, the Housing Authority received approval from the commission to demolish the 54 units on site and replace them with 56 new units, all of which would be affordable housing. The project cost was estimated at $42 million. 

Attorney Liz Suchy, representing the Norwalk Housing Authority, said the changes came after the authority took “another look at the approved site plan.”

“It will have 55 units instead of 56—there is still the community center, there are still the playground areas, outdoor areas and gathering spaces, same number of parking spaces,” Suchy said. The revised plan, she said, “moves the Community Learning Center to the east, and then in its place in the center, those residential units will be structured in that center area..”

Suchy said the changes were primarily driven by costs.

“It had to do with cost estimates that came in connection with the site work, the design construction,” she said. “The housing authority went back and did some value engineering and cost estimating and it was determined that putting the community center in that right area would be more cost effective than keeping it in the middle.”

Commissioners questioned why a unit  was lost and if more could have been added.

Adam Bovilsky, the head of the Norwalk Housing Authority, said that this site was challenging.  

“Every unit we can create is critical,” he said. “If on this site, we could have done something much more large and grandiose we might have considered it. It’s just the site, to be perfectly blunt, is a terrible site—it just made for a very difficult building and development. We are always looking for new sites to expand with plans for that. But not on this site.”

Still, Commissioner Tammy Langalis, who abstained from the vote, voiced frustration that the authority didn’t look to add more housing on the site. 

“I really don’t understand why we couldn’t have added another floor and gotten another 20 or 30 units out of this,” she said. “I think the cost of construction here is pretty exorbitant, but you already own the land. So building more units should have been an incremental cost, not a Herculean cost.”

Langalis said that additional units, created by downsizing larger apartments, would have benefited the community. 

“The media keeps continuing to say that we have a housing crisis here in the state of Connecticut and this is a perfect opportunity to add more affordable housing,” she said. “And some of the units in here, I believe seven of them, are four bedroom units. So that’s really like a single family house. Would it not be more advisable to make some of those smaller and get additional units?”

Bovilsky said that the size of the units was based on the current residents’ needs, as they promised all the families that are current residents “that they would have a right to return, and we felt like if we want to promise a family to have a right to return, we need to have an appropriately sized unit for them to return to.”

“We found a lot of families were either what we refer to as over-housed or under-housed—they’re either too many people for a three-bedroom unit, and we hadn’t had an opportunity to transfer them to a larger unit,” he said. “There were some families that had kids that moved out and now they were only a two or even a one bedroom size family.”

Bovilsky said that the decision to keep the housing development about the same size was that they were trying to build what they could and make sure they met the parking requirements.

Comments

One response to “Revised Meadow Gardens Housing Plan Approved by P&Z ”

  1. Tanner Thompson

    It’s buried at the very end – the reason we can’t have more housing on the lot is because of the need for parking.

    A great example of how we won’t be able to solve the housing crisis until we improve our alternatives to driving – walking, biking, and public transit.

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