New elderly housing is approved in Shelton

The Shelton Housing Authority (SHA) has received zoning approval to add a building with 24 units to the Sinsabaugh Heights elderly housing complex on Meadow Street.

The new building would have all one-bedroom apartments. The three-story structure would be built on a hillside so the top floor will be accessible from a rear parking lot, and the bottom floor from the front at ground level.

Looking at the building from the rear, it would appear to be only one story in height.

“It can’t be seen from neighboring properties,” so there would be no impact on the surrounding area, Thomas P. Arcari, an architect representing the SHA, told the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) during a presentation.

The project is being pursued because of funding opportunities through the state.

Peter DiCarlo, SHA board chairman, said the state is prepared to fund a certain portion of the new building, and the SHA will have to show it can access the rest of the money, perhaps through grants or its own reserve funds.

Sinsabaugh Heights serves primarily elderly residents but also is open to individuals with disabilities. The rental complex is located on a 20-acre parcel and now has 80 units in multiple buildings.

“We think this is a very nice project, not only for the community but it helps the housing authority expand on its mission,” said Arcari, a principal at Quisenberry Arcari Architects of Farmington.

He noted the proposal would increase the number of affordable housing units in the city, helping the city get closer to the state’s desired goal of having 10% affordable housing stock in every municipality.

The P&Z unanimously approved the site plan for the Sinsabaugh Heights expansion.

Central lobby, outdoor balconies

The new building would have a central lobby, fire sprinklers, and outdoor balconies in every unit. There would be common-area laundry facilities, which would lead to bonding among residents and help prevent accidents involving washers or dryers.

The building has been designed to be energy-efficient.

At least 36 new parking spaces would be built as required by regulations, providing one per unit plus community spots. Arcari pointed out the actual parking needs at the existing complex are well below one vehicle per unit.

The new building, parking areas and driveway would have “no impact” on wetlands because nothing is being built in the regulated area, Arcari said.

The city engineer expressed some concerns about the steep grade of the driveway to the back of the building.

P&Z members questioned why the new building wouldn’t have an elevator if it was being designed for elderly residents.

Arcari said only six of the 24 units would involve the need to use stairs, and an elevator would cost in the $150,000 range. He said an elevator wasn’t required based on building codes but might be added as the project moves through the complicated funding process.

Renovation work to existing structures

The SHA also would do interior and exterior renovation work on the existing structures at Sinsabaugh Heights as well as its 40-unit De Vaux Apartments on Howe Avenue. All existing buildings were constructed in the 1970s or 1980s.

The upgrades should present opportunities for the existing Sinsabaugh Heights structures to look somewhat similar to the new building.

“Architecturally, this is a step up from the buildings that are there,” Arcari said of the new building, which includes stone accents on the outside.

He described the current Sinsabaugh Heights buildings as looking dated and “very vanilla.”

DiCarlo said rehabilitating the existing apartments should give them another 20 to 25 years of use. “We want functional units that will last,” he said.

About 100 people generally are on a waiting list for units at Sinsabaugh Heights and De Vaux, DiCarlo said.