Bridgeport Avenue apartment plan draws Anglace’s ire

Photo of Brian Gioiele

The president of the Board of Aldermen wants the Planning and Zoning Commission to reject plans to place apartments on the property that also houses PerkinElmer.

“Just say no,” said John Anglace Jr. at the commission’s public hearing Jan. 29 on a proposal to build four buildings with a total of 272 apartments at 710 Bridgeport Ave.

Anglace said that the city has spent some two decades seeking “balanced growth” — attracting investors by promising to provide adequate services to ensure their financial success. But the latest proposal, coupled with the massive Shelter Ridge development plan and others on the horizon, has Anglace saying the city has reached “optimum balance.”

“We've maxed out,” Anglace said. “They’ve said we need restaurants. We have plenty of restaurants; we need hotels, we have plenty of hotels. They need condos, we have plenty of condos; they need apartments, we have plenty of apartments. But the time has come to just say no. End of story, just say no.”

The property owners are seeking a zone change for the site to a Planned Development District in order to add the apartments to the location that presently houses offices, light industry and warehouse space. PerkinElmer is the main tenant, and representatives from that company stated that they support the application as presented.

This was the third public hearing on the plan, which started as a five-building, 340-unit proposal. Attorney Dominick Thomas, representing the property owners, said that the plans have been reduced to the four-building, 272-unit size, with 10 percent of the units (27 total) listed as affordable housing. The impervious surface of the construction, once complete, was also reduced to 65 percent. If approved, the work would take 18 months to two years to complete, said Thomas.

The commission continued the public hearing to a future date, with commissioners seeking more details on parking and traffic flow. Attorneys representing a neighboring property also submitted a list of concerns at the Jan. 29 meeting, and those are expected to be answered at the next hearing.

“The plan is truly a collaborative effort,” said Thomas, noting that the owners and PerkinElmer officials reached agreement on the project.

“The uniqueness of it is we are taking a property that was once the Philips Medical Systems property in the 1970s with extremely excess parking … and repurposed that into a residential amenity for the area and the site.

“We are not, as was said by a member of the Board of Aldermen at the last hearing, removing office park space. We are not removing economic development, we are putting in economic development,” said Thomas. “Office and office space rentals are enhanced by having as many services around them, including residential.”

The application has faced opposition from residents concerned about density, and some city officials and developers who are concerned that further introduction of apartments along Bridgeport Avenue would hurt downtown development.

Owners of The Mark, a nearby luxury apartment complex, have also voiced opposition.

“There is no evidence of competition between downtown and Bridgeport Avenue,” said Thomas, adding that the offerings differ, with Bridgeport Avenue offering more amenities than their downtown counterparts.

Commissioner Mark Widomski said he was concerned with the amount of traffic that would be generated, as well as the available parking, by adding the apartments to a site that already houses PerkinElmer. Widomski questioned statements that traffic from the apartments would have little impact to flow at peak times.

"To sit back and tell us it doesn’t impact anything, that is just not true,” said Widomski. “The numbers sound great … it looks great on paper, but the reality is just not there.”

Dave Sullivan of Milone and Macbroom, who prepared the site’s traffic report, said his firm identifies the traffic impacts and offers appropriate mitigation plans.

“It is hard for people, especially the general public, to believe me. It is not fun not being believed all the time,” said Sullivan. “But we are using reliable methods, identifying impacts and mitigating them to the best of our knowledge.”