Hartford Business Journal

February 10, 2020

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www.HartfordBusiness.com • February 10, 2020 • Hartford Business Journal 3 After quarter-century drought, new apartments bloom in Wethersfield By Greg Bordonaro gbordonaro@hartfordbusiness.com P rior to 2018, the town of Wethersfield went more than a quarter-century without any new apartment construction. That's changed significantly in recent years with the addition of nearly 250 market-rate apartments, driven largely by Millennial's and empty nesters' desires to rent rather than own a home. But Wethersfield isn't experienc- ing an apartment boom. In fact, it doesn't necessarily want one. Since 2008, town officials have been encouraging mixed-use develop- ment with a residential component, but they don't have a concerted plan to add more rental units, and the projects that have come online have been driven by developers not town planners. That's in contrast to the city of Hartford, which has been eagerly pushing new market-rate apartment de- velopment with hopes of bringing more people to its central business district. Wethers- field officials say they welcome the new apartments but also want to see more commercial development. "We really don't have much devel- opable land left," said Peter Gillespie, Wethersfield's director of planning and economic development. "We need to be careful about some of the land-use decisions we make because we really don't have significant op- portunities like other communities." "We are not opposed to [more apartments] if the market is there for it and it's the right site, but we also like to see other commercial activity on some sites," he added. With a 40.74 mill rate, Wethersfield does have one of the highest property tax rates in Greater Hartford, under- scoring the need for more commercial development to boost its grand list. Additional housing can also bring higher municipal costs, especially if new children enter the community. But it's been market demand — particularly among people without school-age kids — that has spurred new apartment construction. Developer Greg Patchen, whose Ridge Road Development Group LLC recently converted a former priest- retirement community at 275 Ridge Road into 64 luxury apartments, said his project was fully leased within six months, mostly by young professionals and older adults tired of homeownership. "It's people who don't want to do maintenance," Patchen said. Ridge275, as the apartment community is called, has 25 one- bedroom and 39 two-bedroom units with monthly rents ranging from $1,450 to about $1,950, Patchen said. Amenities include a pool house, gym, dog-wash station, community room and lounges. The basement also has storage units tenants can rent. Patchen, whose development group also has projects in West Hartford and other nearby towns, said he doesn't have plans for more apartments in Up Front Continued on page 4 >> TOWN PROFILE: WETHERSFIELD WE FOCUS ON YOUR FACILITIES— SO YOU CAN FOCUS ON YOUR BUSINESS. The company that builds and installs the critical systems in virtually every type of facility is the same company you can rely on to maintain them. For over over 50 years, our clients have trusted us to deliver end-to-end facilities solutions, so they can focus on their core business. We design, install, and maintain systems in: Industrial, Manufacturing, Commercial, Higher Education, Healthcare, and Pharmaceutical facilities. 860.871.1111 Toll Free: 800.741.6367 nemsi.com MECHANICAL | ELECTRICAL | PLUMBING | SHEET METAL | BUILDING AUTOMATION | FACILITIES SERVICES License #'s: E1-0125666 S1-302974 P1-203519 F1-10498 SM1-192 MC-1134 NEMSI HBJ_QtrPg Ads_200117.indd 4 1/17/20 1:31 PM Capital City migration While Wethersfield has one of Greater Hartford's highest mill rates, it's been fortunate to be next door to Connecticut's high- est property tax municipality: Hartford. At 74.29 mills, Hartford has by far the highest property tax rate in the state. That's allowed Wethers- field to poach several small businesses from Hartford over the years, including some well-known names like D&D Market, Gordon Bonetti Florist and the fulfillment operations of Classic Restaurant Supply company. Peter Gillespie, Wethersfield's director of planning and economic development, said the town hasn't deliberately poached businesses from its neighbor to the north; those companies migrated to a lower- tax destination on their own. The Borden apartments on Silas Deane Highway in Wethersfield will have 150 market-rate rental units once complete this spring. HBJ PHOTO | GREG BORDONARO

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