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Columbus Commons Finalizes Details

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More details have emerged for what will be built at the site of the old New Britain Police Department known as Columbus Commons.

On Wednesday night the Common Council unanimously approved moving forward with the project after hearing a run down of the revised development and schedule earlier in the week by representatives from Xenolith Partners, LLC.

“This is a very substantial investment in our community. I think this is a great idea,” said Ald. Jamie Giantonio. “That property has been eyesore. I can’t wait to see a new development there.”

“There has been some changes from the original plans,” said Mayor Erin Stewart. “They had been talking 140 units and now there will 160 units. There will be six floors instead of five floors and it will accommodate more two bedroom units.”

There will be two buildings shaped liked an L. Parking will be under the bridge and some on-site. There is 21,000 square feet of commercial retail space on the first floor.

“They originally wanted to put apartments on the first floor, but it doesn’t fit with our zoning regulations,” said Stewart. “This is the final site plan. There will not be many changes.”

Xenolith will now apply for grant money from the State for the project in November.

Ald. Carlo Carlozzi said that he is excited about the project.

“The exciting thing about the first floor commercial space is there will be doors open to Columbus Boulevard. There will be nice courtyard in the back,” said Carlozzi. “These folks have a great track record. They are excited about coming into New Britain and to take advantage of the CTFastrak.”

“We are really excited about the amount of first floor real estate space. That is really going to be able to provide for a good boom of development,” said Stewart. “They will fill the units before the retail.”

Building A will break ground by fall of next year and it will take a year to construct. It should open up in the winter of 2018 and then it may take a year to fill the building. Once this is complete, the second building will be built.

“That is a very, very aggressive schedule, but is something they are committed to,” said Stewart. “This is the biggest development I have worked on since I have been Mayor. It is being done from the ground up and is not the re-use of an old building, but something brand new. They have been great partners.”

Resident Joe Girgenti spoke during public audience questioning if the residents at the new building used 90 parking spots in the garage, would there be enough for the public.

Councilmen said this will not be an issue as over 1,500 parking spots are available.

“If there happens to be a line for our parking garage or our lots are full, I would be happy,” said Smedley. “On average the garage is about one-quarter full. The project is meant to encourage people to take CTFastrak, walk downtown or ride their bicycles.

There is a room in the building that will be dedicated to bike racks.

“This project is a progressive approach to what is going to happen in the downtown area,” said Ald. Daniel Salerno. “It is the beginning of the beginning for the years ahead. It is essential we get behind this and watch it grow. I hope people will embrace it.”

The Council approval allows the Mayor to convey the property to Xenolith for not less than $150,000.

“I feel the development has been well received by all parties. It is a lot to manage and put together, but to find a development group that is interested in putting this amount of money into our downtown area is promising for the future,” said Stewart. “When you are looking at the downtown area as a whole and the potential for development as whole, this is the premiere development that will spur and spark other developments to come off of that. We know what makes downtown thrive is when you have people living in them.”

Apartments will be market rate or workforce housing. Workforce housing will be based on paying about 33 percent of your annual income. The average rents in downtown New Britain will be close to $1,000.