Proposal: Arcadia Crossing in West Hartford

John Scobie, of Center Development Corporation, spoke to the Park Road Business Association this morning about his firm’s plans for the Sisters of Saint Joseph property on the southwest corner of Park Road and Prospect Avenue in West Hartford.

Center Development hopes to build a 320 unit apartment community that will be called Arcadia Crossing. The existing 185,000 sqft structure would receive a 308,000 sqft addition to connect the southern end of the existing wings, and wrap around the eastern end of the chapel.

2015-02-20 Arcadia Crossing

Scobie said that the $90 million project is designed to include 60 studios, 120 one bedrooms, and 160 two bedrooms. It is a market rate project, and rents are expected to range from $1,400/month to $2,800/month.

One of the unique features of the development is that the Sisters of Saint Joseph will remain on the site. The property will be legally structured as a condominium community, but with only two units. One unit will be the residences for the Sister in the west wing of the building. The other unit will be the 320 apartments and associated common spaces that will be managed by Center Development.

Scobie highlighted two other constraints that were a point of emphasis in the design phase. Center Development wanted to maximize the amount of open space on the property, and has 14 acres of it in the current proposal. They also wanted to minimize the visual impact of the addition. The southern wing will not be visible from Park Road, and they have broken up the exterior design so that the façade is architecturally varied when viewed from Prospect Avenue.

The current proposal calls for 549 parking spaces for the apartment residents (plus more for the Sisters). A two level parking garage will form the base of the southern addition, and will accommodate 295 cars. The remaining 254 spots will be surface parking.

Community amenities will include a swimming pool, tennis courts, barbecue/picnic area, community “living room,” fitness center, yoga/pilates studio, and catering kitchen.

Scobie said that Center Development plans to pursue the necessary zoning permits soon. They hope to begin construction in the fall of 2015 and be ready for occupancy in the spring of 2017.

Masonic Temple Site in West Hartford

2014-07-31 Former Masonic Temple

The new owners of the Masonic Temple in West Hartford Center have knocked the building down. This is what the site looked like from the top of the Town Center Garage at the end of July – demolition appeared complete.

Their vision for the site includes a new building with 21 one bedroom apartments over ground level retail. There will also be a 21 space secure parking garage under the building for residential tenants. Construction is estimated to take about a year, so by next summer it should be ready for new tenants to move in.

Here are the draft minutes from the June 10, 2014 public hearing on the project.

Visible Progress at 179 Allyn in Hartford

179 Allyn Apartments

Dakota Partners is in the process of rehabilitating the historic Judd & Root building at the corner of Allyn and High streets in Downtown Hartford into 63 one bedroom apartments over ground floor commercial space. The developer’s project page notes that tenants are expected to begin to move into the units in the summer of 2014.

The above photo was taken on Wednesday, July 30th, 2014 and shows that work is well underway. Windows on the 5th and 6th floors have been replaced, as have most of the windows on the 4th floor. Zooming in on the original image, one can see studs through the windows on the 4th and 5th floors but not on the 6th. Perhaps the top level is close to ready for new Downtown residents.

A call to the Dakota office seeking comment on the project’s timeline and a local contact for potential tenants was not returned.

Interest in Landlording

Landlords are required to follow rules while handling the money of their tenants. One of them relates to the security deposits that they collect when someone first moves in. Tenants are supposed to earn interest on their deposits at a rate defined by the state.

Not for Sale - But a Nice Looking Multi-FamilyFor many years (since 2002) the state held the required security deposit interest rate at 1.5%. This page on the CT Department of Banking site shows the historical interest rates for a wide variety of deposits held in the state of Connecticut. As most everyone knows, it’s been really tough to find a 1.5% interest rate for deposits over the past few years. So landlords have been out of pocket each year to make up the difference. It’s not like it’s a huge amount, the entire 1.5% on a $3,000 security deposit would be $45, but still.

The state reduced the rate dramatically in 2012 to 0.16%. This is more in line with the current interest rate environment, so in that sense it’s long overdue. That same $3,000 security deposit will now only earn $4.80 per year.

But the bigger question is whether or not your landlord is actually paying interest. We would hope that the larger, professional organizations know about the law and comply with it. But the mom-and-pop landlords may not actually know what they’re supposed to be doing. We’re frequently surprised at how fast and loose some landlords seem to run their businesses.

Keeping up with the various rules regarding landlording was one of the main reasons we exited the business after only two years. It really is a commitment to do it right, and for us to be renting a single unit just didn’t make sense. We could see how it would be different if we made that our full-time job, or hired out the management to professionals, but neither of those options were right for us.

It’s actually a good time to be a multi-family property buyer right now. Prices are down overall, and in the more urban towns there are plenty of opportunities for distressed buildings. Many need a cash investment to bring them up to rentable condition, but that’s part of the reason they’re so cheap. People with cash to invest (and who want to earn more than the 0.1% the banks offer) may want to consider real estate. But keep in mind that it’s a tough business that will require time and attention.