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Great Pond Village to Add Thousands of Windsor Residents

Developers presented a plans for development of the 600-plus acre residential, commercial and recreational property to the town council and planning and zoning committee Wednesday night.

One way to attract big businesses and and a strong workforce to the area is to build a town customized to fit their needs — a town complete with residential units that range from classic, single-family homes to studio apartments for rent above retail shops, and eateries designed to attract patrons from near and far, located within walking distance of sprawling recreational facilities and open space.

That's what Massachusetts-based company Winstanley Enterprises and ABB plan to build in Windsor. With the development and transition of ABB's property off of Day Hill Road into Great Pond Village, the two companies and town officials are hoping to allow the town to remain competitive as a potential home for employers and their employees while maintaining the current property tax base, to which property owners contribute 30 to 40 cents on every dollar the town makes, according to Town Manager Peter Souza.

Both Winstanley and ABB addressed the town council and the planning and zoning committee on Wednesday, presenting a concept plan for a development like no other in the area.

The proposed 653-acre development would include:

  • 4,010 residential units, including multifamily homes, condos and rental units, and single-family attached and stand alone homes for sale.
  • a projected population of 7,847 residents upon completion (including 720 children who could attend Windsor Public Schools).
  • 640,000 square feet of small business and corporate office space.
  • 85,000 square feet of retail space.
  • Connection to the Farmington River and Northwest Park trails
  • State of the art technology (broadband wireless access, community intranet and energy efficiency)
  • 355 acres of open space, recreational space or natural preserve (including small, neighborhood parks throughout the development).
  • A pedestrian-oriented market district with small retailers, restaurants and an active market house (year-round farmer's market).

"This is not a gated community," said David Winstanley of Winstanley. "It's a unique project unlike anything in the area... In New England people tend to build small developments with little risk. This is a big risk... We know the potential is there, and we think we have the right piece of land to do it on."

One of the major reasons the risk is worth taking, according to Jim Burke, economic development director for the town, is the need to attract the people businesses are looking to hire: young professionals.

"If we don't do something like this... It's more likely that we'll lose companies," Burke said.

The reason for the potential loss of Windsor companies is the inability to find a large, qualified workforce nearby, said Burke. Winstanley added to Burke's assessment of Windsor's attractiveness to young professionals, saying that people move to either Manchester or Middletown after graduating from college. Windsor's lack of rental properties is tha largest contributing factor, added Burke.

"Workers who are coming out of college need a place to live," said Burke. "Over 68 percent of housing in Windsor is owner occupied. We haven't built a rental project in Windsor in 35 years."

The property, to be built on the former engineering and development site that was once Combustion Engineering, would be completed over a 14 to 20 year span.

According to a December 2010 Hartford Business article, the project would cost $750 million; however, it was revealed during the town council meeting Wednesday night that the town would not be responsible for bonds issued to fund the project.

In addition, a financial study commissioned by Winstanley and ABB and conducted by TischlerBise, Inc., a national group that analyses cost growth and revenue enhancement issues, found that the project would yield approximately $2 million annually to the town.

Inflation was not taken into account in the study, however, the study did find that "projected revenues are sufficient to pay for capital improvements," which would come in the form of a new fire station and apparatus, new police station or substation and vehicles, and additional seats for added students, all needed to serve the growing population in town, according to TischlerBise principal Julie Herlands.

According to town documents, the former Combustion Engineering property, located off of Day Hill Road and used in the company's production of fuel for nuclear power plants and development of fossil fuel technologies, has undergone an intensive cleanup program over the past 15 years.

The cleanup process is expected to be completed this year, according to ABB's Web page dedicated to the cleanup effort. According to the site, the cleanup is on track to meet local farming standards, making it suitable for a person to "live on the site and be able to get water and grow food on the site safely for 40 years."

 

R Eleveld July 31, 2011 at 08:38 PM
Questions/Comments: This large number of houses with families lead to an over crowded school system, lowering the quality of education, followed by a sharp rise in crime. ANSWER: This argument about schools unfortunately does not stand up to the demographic evidence. In the past 3 budget years we have lost almost 400 students. There is no baby boom, as has been noted by others. In the FY2010 year we had 3,886 students, and in FY2011 we had 3,624 a loss of 262 student, and in FY2012 we are projected to have 3,487 students a loss of 137 students. 399 student in 3 fiscal years. When I started on the council 4 years ago we had over 4,000 students. The loss in just the 3 years mentioned is 57% of the "potential" 700 students in Great Pond OVER 15 years. The issue with school quality is not related to students in the schools. Sorry the facts clearly indicate no correlation with more kids and lower performance, we have fewer kids and no annual increase in performance has occurred, so more kids will not equal less performance. The issue with education is to make a BoE leadership change. A reader might want to read Mr. Jubrey's recent comments.
R Eleveld July 31, 2011 at 08:42 PM
Question/Comment: The speed and high number of rental units is a concern tothe writer... He continues... This can be slowed down by demanding that the development phase in single family units first. With rental units strategically intergrated throughout the development, in the latter phases. ANSWER: The units will be built at a rate on a linear scale of ~125 rental units, and ~140 owner occupied units per year, not an overwhelming number. Also no builder will build a rental building knowing he will not be able to rent them out. No builder will build homes without having the existing stock sold. So if 100 are built and can not be rented/sold PROFITABLY he will not build another 100 units in the hopes 'they will come'. The 'they will come' concept is the basis of governmental expenditures for the busway and the commuter New Haven/Springfield rail system. So the ~60% of owned units will be made unstable by the 40% of renters? I am not a real estate pro, but I understand good business practices. There are multiple projects like this that have been successful. [A person] has said from his own direct knowledge that a VA project similar in concept to this has been very successful.
R Eleveld July 31, 2011 at 08:45 PM
Question/Comment: As to [person at meeting], I will not question his reasoning for purchasing in West Hartford. Only to say it was not because Windsor did not offer good quality homes in great neighborhoods! [Person at meeting], said Windsor did not offer RENTALS of a quality or type he was looking for. He did rent first, in West Hartford. The argument was he could not find an acceptable, to him, rental in Windsor, and most likely did not want a home, even as a rental, with its upkeep requirements as a young person. We both know the decision to live in West Hartford is the schools, or at least it is an element... However Windsor does not have the same reputation as has been written in the past. So it is more important we provide great rental opportunities.
R Eleveld July 31, 2011 at 08:49 PM
MY FINAL COMMENTS: I want to thank those that do write... This is an important issue for Windsor and all respectful feedback positive and negative is registering with me. As can be seen I do try to answer those concerns. This project has been put together by private people, using private funds and private risk. The options are to develop this project as a mixed use community OR they could have created a monster office park with no amenities? Which approach do we want? This is the real question! The next issue is finances... They are asking for a possible 'investment' in infrastructure by the town, in the form of some type of Tax Increment Financing [See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tax_increment_financing]. The specifics are unknown and this is a very 5,000 foot concept. The finances will be discussed at the next meeting, I do not know the date yet. This is the ONLY decision that the Town Council has any input on.
R Eleveld August 16, 2011 at 01:46 PM
I wanted to remind you that the next Great Pond meeting is August 22nd. Ron 1. Great Pond Informational Meeting The next planned informational meeting is scheduled for August 22nd at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers here at town hall. This meeting will focus on the fiscal impact study completed for the development. Mr. Carson Bise of TischlerBise Consulting will present an overview of the fiscal impact analysis.

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