Some of your Questions:
Q. Why are there more units than there are now?
There is a real need in New Canaan for a different type and variety of housing that the Town does not have. This project would help fulfill this need. Based on the Town of New Canaan’s own studies, New Canaan housing needs a range of housing to include those who wish to age in place or require single floor living. In our town, we currently lack the diversity in housing that will be provided by Merritt Village. We have numerous single-family homes on larger plots outside of town, and some older, multi-floor condominiums in town, along with some larger homes on medium to smaller lots, but not much in between. With one-floor living accessible by elevators and a choice between purchase or rental units, this complex will offer underground parking, a concierge for purchased units and interior and exterior community gathering spaces. Merritt Village provides a unique opportunity for our town to create the housing diversity and options so sorely needed. We have the opportunity here to hold on our existing citizens who are looking to downsize or otherwise “migrate to town”. We have the opportunity to have new post-college residents who might commute to a new job in local towns or NYC, while becoming a part of the New Canaan community. We have the opportunity to provide housing for those individuals who are transitioning in other ways. With 116 maximum units on the 3.3 acres, these apartments/condos will help span the need for a variety of housing.
Q. What will these buildings look like?
These new buildings were designed in a way to fit into the aesthetic of our town. They will have exteriors that have architecturally interesting articulation, with dormers, changing rooflines, bay windows, etc., and a mixed of exteriors such as stone, shingles, and clapboard. They are carefully positioned so that there is a communal courtyard for gathering and walking paths for easy access. The buildings have been positioned away from Park Street (40 feet further away than current buildings are) such that the viewing angle is actually lower. A developing landscaping plan includes ample green landscape screening to soften and minimize the view from neighbors.
Q. Will traffic be a concern?
M2 Partners, the developers of Merritt Village, have hired a well-respected traffic engineer in Mike Galante of Frederick P. Clark Associates. He and his firm have previously worked numerous times in Town and have publicly stated “there will be no change in service.” Additionally, at M2 Partners’ cost, the Town of New Canaan will hire an independent traffic engineer to review the data and the results that have been submitted.
Q. Why does the project have 3.5 stories?
There currently exist buildings on the site that are 48 feet tall. We are asking for buildings that would be an additional 4 to 6 feet in height that will be less noticeable from the streets. The new building will be located approximately 70 ft. from Park Street verse the current 25 ft. setback required so that, visually, the new buildings will appear less tall in height. Additionally, in order to place the parking underground (6 to 8 times more expensive than surface parking) and gain the 50% open and green space, build the buildings with elevators, use high quality building materials and a public walk through the property, the new buildings need to be four stories to make the project economically viable.
Q. Will my current condominium have its value affected?
With approximately 850+ existing condominium units in New Canaan, the 60 units (maximum) in Merritt Village represents only about 7% of the stock. These new units are unique in that they offer one floor living, with elevators and underground parking, so they will likely appeal to a specific set of buyers.
Q. What will be the Impact on Schools?
Historically, based on the size of the proposed units and the type and style of complex, there should be little to no impact on the schools. The impact on schools is based on both local and national data. This was similar to the issue raised when Avalon came to town 12+ years ago, and history has shown there was no adverse impact to the school system. Currently at Merritt, there are children who live in the complex and under the Fair Housing Act we cannot and will not discriminate.