Developer proposes converting, expanding Greenwich Woods rehab center into 162 apartments – Greenwich Time

GREENWICH — Another proposal for a large apartment complex, with an affordable housing component, has been submitted to town planning and zoning authorities for approval.

Eagleview Holdings is putting forward a preliminary plan to convert the Greenwich Woods Rehabilitation and Health Care Center at 1165 King St. into a new housing development that would add three stories to accommodate a total of 162 apartments.

Earlier this month, another developer submitted a preliminary application to the Planning and Zoning Commission for 192 apartments off East Putnam Avenue at Church Street and Sherwood Place in central Greenwich.

Like that application, the King Street proposal would also designate 30 percent of the units as affordable under section 8-30g of the Connecticut General Statutes. The law encourages the construction of affordable housing by lessening local zoning restrictions that other market-rate projects are required to meet.

Under the proposal, the parking at the location would go from 119 spaces to 248 spaces, plus ADA-accessible parking. The apartments would be a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom units. The development team said senior housing would continue at the site with this plan.

At the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting Tuesday, where a brief introductory discussion was held, commissioners expressed concerns about the scale of the project and its traffic impacts, as well as how a septic system could accommodate a large new construction. The facility currently uses a regional sewer system operated just over the border in Westchester County, N.Y.

The proposal will be scrutinized closely in terms of traffic and environmental impact, P&Z Chair Margarita Alban said.

“Here you have a high-density development, in an area that does not have such development,” she said. “What are the implications? Is it safe traffic-wise and environmentally?”

She also questioned whether “a smaller building” would work better at the site. Alban said it was not “an ideal location” for the proposed housing

Sam Romeo, chairman of Greenwich Communities, the town’s public housing authority, struck a critical note about the plan during the teleconferenced hearing.

“This application troubles me,” Romeo said. “This is out of character for the town of Greenwich.”

Romeo said he believed private developers were using the state’s affordable-housing laws in ways that were not necessarily conducive to creating significant amounts of affordable housing in communities such as Greenwich, while reaping rewards for private investors.

Greenwich Woods now accommodates 217 senior residents, and it also has a unit for people coping with memory loss. The rehabilitation and health care center was constructed in the 1980s on the 16-acre site in northern Greenwich along the border with New York.

It is also located near the Gimbel Audubon Sanctuary, the former Gimbel estate, an 80-acre wooded site now preserved by the Greenwich Audubon Center, according to Greenwich Woods.

The state’s 8-30g statute was established more than three decades ago to promote the development of affordable housing in towns and cities. Under the statue, 10 percent of the housing in a municipality must be “affordable,” under a formula. In Greenwich, the number has been at about 5 percent for years.

The preliminary application for a 192-unit apartment building in central Greenwich was filed by SJP Properties, based in New York City. The units would be a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom layouts in a seven-story building, according to the developers.

“We’re committed to bringing a world-class residential development to downtown Greenwich,” said a statement from the development team, which includes Eagle Ventures. It would “help Greenwich make significant progress on its state-mandated affordable housing requirement.”

In the past year, the issue of affordable housing has gained ground in Greenwich. Under a proposal set to go before the Representative Town Meeting, the town has proposed forming a trust fund of privately raised money, with an 11-member board to oversee it and allocate funds to private developers to build new units or renovate existing units of affordable housing in Greenwich.