Town Council members voted on two motions aimed at improving Windsor Center Monday night: the sale agreement of Mechanic Street properties that will be developed into apartment buildings and the application for a grant to develop the area around the rail station.
The agreement with the developers of 55-69 Mechanic Street, Upton+Partners, LLC., outlines the sale of the property for $900,000, the towns use of the funds, and the developers' plans for the 130-unit development.
According to Windsor Economic Development Director Jim Burke, Upton+Partners intends to rent the one- and two-bedroom units for an average of $1,100. The rental units will eventually be sold as condominiums, Burke added.
The property development agreement, which includes property that is east of the railroad tracks, south of Central St., but not the pond, parking lot and dog pound, according to Burke, was approved by all but Council members Donald Jepsen and Aaron Jubrey.
Jubrey expressed concern regarding the price of the units and potential vacancy rates. "[The plan] is beautiful," he said, then adding that the price of the rental units may be high and that the town should wait for housing markets "to come around," before approval.
The decision to rent the properties, Burk said, is because the market for condominiums "is just not there."
"The financing is just too difficult right now. There is, however, financing for apartments," he added.
Inquiries from the council regarding the decision to rent the properties prompted Deputy Mayor Alan Simon to question "what seems to be a fear of apartments, and I don't understand it at all."
"I've heard it from citizens. I've herd it up here [on the council]... I don't get why the only people you want in town are those who can afford a mortgage, when presumable you have to have a decent income to afford $1,000 a month," he said.
"I'm sure most of us rented at one time or another in our lives... Why wouldn't you want folks like us to rent in this town?"
Councilor Jubrey responded to Simon, saying that he's not afraid of apartments.
"I think the town is better served by condos," he said, citing that those who buy a property in town intend on staying in town. Planning to stay in town isn't always the case with those who rent, Jubrey added.
Mayor Trinks said he supported the motion on the basis that Windsor needs people.
"Getting people downtown is going to help our little shops... We need people," he said. "You have to have retail to make people come in, but you have to have people to help retail stay alive."
The development is part of a larger plan to develop Windsor Center, a plan that dates back to the early 1970's, according to town documents. Along with this development is the development of the rail station area, which will likely be utilized on the New Haven-Springfield commuter line project that will begin service in 2016, according to Windsor Town Planner Eric Barz.
Council members voted Monday night to give Town Manager Peter Souza permission to submit a grant application "to conduct plannig and facilitation of transit-oriented developement in order to increase ridership and support significant capital investments," town documents say.
The application for the Transit-Oriented Development Pilot Program awards municipalities $250,000 - $1 million for planning.