MONROE, CT — Graveling and blasting at 127 Main St. could make way for Pond View, a mixed-use development with 174 luxury apartments, a club house, pool and other amenities, as well as a building with restaurant and retail uses on the ground floor and apartments on the second floor.
Kevin Solli, the engineer for the $40 million project, estimates it would generate $900,000 in gross tax revenue for the town.
He presented a report to the Planning and Zoning Commission Thursday night, with developer Continental Properties and Realty Concepts Inc., to get feedback before submitting a formal application.
“A luxury residential development, Pond View would be an extremely valuable and unique asset to the Monroe community,” Solli said, adding it would provide “alternative housing opportunities not currently available, but very much desired in Monroe.”
Solli said the apartments would attract empty nesters looking to downsize and young professionals, who are not ready to buy a home.
The late Jay Keillor purchased the nearly 20 acre Main Street property over 20 years ago with plans to build a shopping center with a grocery store. Though Keillor received wetlands and zoning approvals, Solli said he was unable to find an anchor tenant and the market determined the best use of the property is multi-family residential.
Solli said a pre-construction meeting was held in 2015 and site work commenced that is still going on today. Rockhead 25 LLC is doing major earthwork and material removal to prepare the site for construction.
Neighbors have complained about the noise from blasting and graveling, and expressed concerns over potential damage to their wells and foundations.
Robert Westlund, a Planning and Zoning Commission member, asked how much longer the site work is going to take.
Greg Kamedulski, a representative of the property owner, said, “we think 18 to 22 months, roughly.”
‘Jewel of the municipality’
Pond View would have 65-percent two-bedroom and 35-percent one-bedroom apartments, according to the proposal. The one-bedroom apartments would be 770 to 860 square feet with projected rentals ranging from $1,800 to $1,925 per month. Two-bedrooms would be 1,058 to 1,210 square feet with rent from $2,100 to $2,400.
Continental Properties is a privately owned real estate firm primarily focused on development, redevelopment, and management of residential and commercial real estate investments throughout the United States, according to its website. Founded over 50 years ago, it built over 25,000 homes throughout New Jersey, New York, Florida, Connecticut, California and other locations.
Howard S. Rappaport, a principal with Continental Properties, said it has communities in Trumbull, Shelton, Glastonbury, Rocky Hill and South Windsor. Of the 23 residential communities it built, he said Continental Properties still owns 19.
“Our communities are really the jewel of the municipality in terms of multifamily housing,” he said, adding all have an occupancy rate of over 95 percent.
“Our vision for Pond View here is to build an upscale community with high elevations, with extensive indoor and outdoor amenities, in a community that everyone can be proud of,” Rappaport said.
The apartments would be spread out over six three-story buildings with the 12,435 square foot mixed-use building in front, facing Main Street.
“The apartment interiors and building exteriors feature high-end finishes,” according to a packet shared with the commission.
Proposed site amenities for Pond View include a pool, fire pit(s), cabanas, patio space and lounge areas, hammocks, a bocce court, dog parks, walking paths, outdoor dining and kitchen areas, a putting green, bike share, EV charging, art installations/sculptures, lawn areas and green space.
A 4,800 to 5,100 square foot clubhouse is proposed for Pond View. Its amenities would include private dining rooms, “a fitness center, business center, cinema room, catering kitchen, fireside lounge and billiards/sports lounge,” according to the presentation.
William Agresta, the town’s planning and zoning administrator, asked if any of the amenities would be leased to people outside of the community. Rappaport said no, adding the cinema room and dining rooms are rented out the most.
Stanley Gniazdowski, of Realty Concepts, shared a preliminary impact analysis with the commission.
In Monroe, 12.42-percent of current households, or 834 out of 6,710, could potentially rent, according to Gniazdowski.
He said people with higher income levels tend to have less school age children. The average household income in Monroe is $124,249 and the median income is $154,454. Gniazdowski estimates the apartments may add 15 new students to the school system.
To illustrate how Monroe public schools could absorb the new students, Gniazdowski said its total enrollment declined by 2.23-percent from the 2016-17 to the 2018-19 school year, according to the Connecticut Department of Education, and by 5.37-percent in the Stepney school district, where the apartments are proposed.
When Solli asked commissioners for their feedback on the proposal, Ryan Condon, the commission secretary, said he has friends who live at The Mark, Continental Properties’ luxury apartments in Shelton, and they are very nice buildings.
“I think it’s an excellent proposed project for this location,” Chairman Michael O’Reilly said, “and I’m excited to move forward with this.”
But wait “…Pond View LLC, has town land use approvals to excavate and prepare the property to make way for construction of a grocery store-anchored shopping center behind the Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins on Main Street.”
Now we’re at Luxury apartments?
So perhaps the real story here is that there is no actual plan to develop the property as promised in the zoning approval for the excavation activities, and different ideas are being published in order to market the land for sale once the excavation goals have been reached.
Who do we trust? Who can we trust?
This site has gone from a small residential nursing home, to a restaurant, to a grocery store, and now to a four story apartment building, with many amenities and shops.
Before the blasting began I was sent a letter saying an appointment would be made with me to walk through my house including examination of my field stone foundation. I called And asked for an appointment. I was told that I would be contacted when the project began. I was not contacted. When the blasting started so called them again. I was told they did not expect any damage as they would be doing, low level, precise blasting. For a short period of time monitors were placed on my property prior to blasting after I let them.know my dining room door would not close. They no longer monitor. Instead I get a call letting me know what time they will be blasting.
Meanwhile blasting shakes my house, knocks things off open shelves and pushe pictures askew or drops them to the floor. And, now we learn we have at least two more years of this being imposed on our lives. Each time I turn on my water faucet I worry if I will have to dig another new well.
When they blasted for the strip mall, with Enterprise, on Main Street, Stepney, the water stopped running as my husband stood at the kitchen sink washing his hands.
The traffic on Main Street is heavy. I have waited up to 7 minutes to get out of my road. I can not imagine how much worse it will be with a new road coming directly on to Main Street from a project of this size.
Who do we trust? What protects us?