BERLIN - The vision of a bigger and better Berlin town center is beginning to take shape.
On May 23, Town Manager Jack Healy and the two principals of Newport Realty Group, Mark Lovley and Tony Valenti, signed the purchase and sales agreement for 861, 889, 903 and 913 Farmington Ave.
Those four properties next to the train station will make up the project known as “Farmington at Steele.”
The planned 80,000-square-foot development will include 76 market-rate apartments, 10,362 square feet of medical office space, and 8,618 square feet of restaurant and retail space, all organized into five buildings.
Building “A” will be a two-story medical office. Building “B” will be three stories, with retail space on the ground floor, and a total of 16 market-rate apartments on the second and third floors. Building “C” will be a coffee shop-style establishment with potential rooftop seating. Finally, buildings “D” and “E” will be connected by a clock tower and underground parking garage, and will have 30 apartments each.
The estimated $18 million project will be funded entirely by the Newport Realty Group’s private financing through equity and banking partners. No state funds will be used during the development phase.
Approximately $2 million in grants from the state Department of Economic and Community Development and the Office of Policy and Management will be used for aspects of the project that are required by the state, including an environmental survey of the land.
While, initially, the proximity to the train station was what attracted him to the project, Valenti told The Herald that working with the town of Berlin “has and continues to be awesome.”
“In partnering with the town, we will give Berlin what it needs. Luckily, those needs fit perfectly with ours,” Valenti said. “This is one of our bigger projects, so we’re definitely focused on it.
The project is being completed in phases, and at least one step is getting completed every single day, Valenti said.
The next big step is formal application and approvals from the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission, which should take place around the end of July or early August. This would allow for construction to start in October.
Farmington at Steele is part of an expanding vision for Berlin Economic Development Director Chris Edge.
“My goal is to have five restaurants and a brewery between Dairy Queen and Walgreens,” Edge said.
According to Edge, this project will generate tremendous commerce, and bring residents, businesses and additional excitement to the Farmington Avenue corridor.
This development is an example of the transit-oriented opportunities that the new train line from New Haven to Springfield has created for the state of Connecticut.
Adam Hushin can be reached at 860-801-5046 or firstname.lastname@example.org.