HARTFORD – The State Bond Commission approved a $6 million loan to go towards the first phase of New Britain’s Columbus Common project Friday morning.
The $58 million project, developed by New York-based Xenolith Partners and Massachusetts-based Dakota Partners, will be a mixed-use property consisting of two six-story buildings. It will contain 160 residential mixed-income units and ground-level retail and office space.
The $6 million, 50-year, interest-free loan will help project stakeholders with the first phase of the project: the building of the first structure. The L-shaped building will contain 80 new units of rental housing, 64 of them being income-restricted, affordable units.
Gov. Dannel Malloy, who chaired the meeting, spoke highly of the investments approved Friday morning.
“We are investing nearly $29 million in housing projects to continue making Connecticut a more attractive place to live and to ensure that our firemen, police officers and home-health workers, amongst others, can actually afford to live the in the towns where they provide critical services,” Malloy said following the meeting.
State Rep. Rick Lopes, D-New Britain, said the Columbus Commons project will encourage further development in downtown New Britain.
“I’d love to see New Britain’s downtown rekindled,” Lopes told The Herald following the meeting.
State Rep. Bobby Sanchez, D-New Britain, said he’s pleased to see the project move forward at a steady pace.
“Without a doubt, once completed, Columbus Commons will bring great benefits not just to residents, but an overall economic boost to the entire city,” Sanchez said. “I am thankful to our delegation for our continued collective work in making things happen for New Britain and ensuring that all our districts are taken care of.”
State Rep. Peter Tercyak said he was grateful the loan was approved.
“I expect the mixed-use Columbus Commons project with its residential, commercial and retail facilities to be an economic engine for the city thanks to its prime location on the edge of downtown and close proximity to CTfastrak,” Tercyak said.
The Columbus Commons site once was home to police headquarters. The city conducted significant environmental remediation of 125 Columbus Blvd., funded through the state Department of Economic and Community Development’s Targeted Brownfield Remediation program.
The first phase of the development was awarded a $1.6 million Low Income Tax Credit allocation by the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority last spring.
Bank of America will provide the construction loan and permanent loan and also invest in tax credits generating about $16 million in equity for the project.
In addition, the Department of Economic and Community Development invested $2.7 million in Brownfield funds to help with the demolition and environmental cleanup of the site in preparation for the project.
The project officially broke ground in October 2017.
During the groundbreaking, Mayor Erin Stewart praised its proximity to the CTfastrak hub and its potential to attract more shops, restaurants and other services downtown, saying it will help attract more millennials and working professionals to the city.
Supporters of the project expect it to bring new life to downtown.
“We are looking forward to Columbus Commons reshaping our downtown and creating a multitude of new housing opportunities for residents,” Stewart told The Herald on Friday. “This mixed use project, just steps away from our downtown CTfastrak station, is a smart investment in our community that will attract new businesses and services. It will be the catalyst for a new era of livability and vibrancy in New Britain.”
Skyler Frazer can be reached at 860-801-5087 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.