'A once eyesore to downtown is now a gem and asset': Historic Court Street property complete, ready for occupancy

Published on Tuesday, 24 November 2020 19:10
Written by Ciara Hooks


NEW BRITAIN – After just about a year of construction, Chrysalis Center Real Estate Corporation announced the redevelopment of the Courtland Arms Apartments, at 57 Court Street, is complete and ready for occupancy.

“We have received tremendous feedback from the city of New Britain, our neighbors and the community on the transformation of the building. A once eyesore to downtown is now a gem and asset,” said Sharon L. Castelli, CEO of Chrysalis Center, Inc and Chrysalis Center Real Estate Corporation.

“This is one of the ultimate projects for the city of New Britain. Where this building was not only an eyesore, but a very intimidating building and is now spectacular,” said Economic Development Director Bill Carroll. “It’s absolutely stunning what Chrysalis has done.”

The historic five-story building, originally built in 1910, sat vacant for 25 years before undergoing a complete renovation which now includes 24 individual one-bedroom apartment units, four set aside for veterans and the rest are mixed income.

The four veteran units are 25% of Area Media Income (AMI) with a max rent of $391. There are seven units at 50% AMI with a max rent of $872; the max income for one person for example is $35,950. There are 10 units at 60% AMI with a max rent of $1,065. And there are 3 units at 80% AMI with a max rent of $1,450.

The apartments range from 1,000 to 1,150 square feet.

“All the units are identical,” Castelli said. “So the two end units are identical and the two front units are identical.”

Floors two, three and four all have laundry facilities. The lower level contains property management office space, other offices, a community room with a half kitchen for the tenants if they want to have birthday parties or other events and a bathroom.

“This is the courtyard I put gravel in because the sidewalks were cracking, they had to come in and dig the gravel up to put all the shrubbery in there,” Castelli said.

There is also onsite parking.

“The back entrance is where everyone will come in,” Castelli said. “It’s a pretty secure building, meaning everyone will have key fobs so we can control if somebody looses a key.”

Castelli shared that fortunately covid did not severely get in the way of the completion or leasing of the property.

“Now there are three things that happened during these projects: number one your workers get it and it just stops the project because you have to shut down for two weeks every time; the second thing is all of your appliances come from China so we have projects that couldn’t get refrigerators, but we ended up getting them in; and the third thing is all the miscellaneous things that you need on a project that sort of roll in you get from China a lot of the electronics for the elevator that were on backorder. So we tried to order everything out as early as we could and we got it done,” Castelli said.

Four of the apartments have been leased as of now.

“They’ll probably start moving in the second week of December,” Castelli said. “The property manager said we’re going to rent out 100%. I’m looking forward to it and we’re really pleased at how the property came out.”

“This is absolutely beautiful. I don’t think they will have a problem renting this out,” Mayor Erin Stewart said.

The project cost a total of about $11 million.

“This funding gets patched together. We have funds from HUD that comes through the city, the department of housing, the Connecticut finance authority, low income credit tax investor and then we got a million and a half with the historic tax credit,” Castelli said. “So every piece (of crown molding) had to be cut, brought down, sanded and put back up. This is the old elevator; you can’t touch that so it’s sealed together just the way it used to be.”

“So everything is about preserving the historic features of it,” Stewart said.

“The way I was introduced to the property is Paul Bailey, who is an architect out of New Hampshire, had done 90% plans on the project I want to say maybe 20 years ago. So he called me and said, ‘hey, are you up for doing another project?’ I said sure. We went through the building and then started piecemealing the funding together,” Castelli said.

“Paul Bailey is known statewide for his rehabilitation, so he’s a go to architect for historic rehabs. He’s worked on a lot of other projects in New Britain. This is absolutely beautiful,” Stewart said.

The entire process was started in 2017.

“That’s how it long it took for the application to go in and get funded,” Castelli said.

“It has literally taken years to get to this point on one property and you’re lucky you have someone dedicated like Chrysalis that will make it happen,” Stewart said.

“I will tell you, his municipality should be a model for not only being open but seeing projects get done. These guys are wonderful to work with,” Castelli said.

Posted in New Britain Herald, New Britain on Tuesday, 24 November 2020 19:10. Updated: Tuesday, 24 November 2020 19:12.