Several local projects, including a planned conversion of the historic Ponemah Mill in Norwich, will receive state grants or loans in a major affordable housing investment announced Thursday by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
The Lofts at Ponemah Mills, a 116-unit project at the Taftville mill, was awarded $3 million in low-interest loans for the $26.6 million first phase of the mill conversion by Ponemah Riverbank LLC, a subsidiary of New Jersey-based Onekey LLC. At least 26 units must be affordable housing.
The company purchased the mill in 2007 and received local permits for 300 apartments in the largest mill, most recently the former Helikon Furniture factory. The owners started construction, but the project was stalled because of financing difficulties.
“The developers have done a great job in the planning for the reuse of the mill buildings for quality housing,” Mayor Peter Nystrom said of the Ponemah Mills project, “while maintaining the integrity of the classic look of the facility.”
On Monday, the Norwich City Council will consider a revision to a property tax abatement program previously approved for the project through the city’s Mill Enhancement Program. The owners would pay taxes on the existing value through a three-year construction period and for five years after the project is completed. Property taxes on the new value would be phased in over six years.
The Ponemah project is one of 10 projects to receive state grants or loans through the Competitive Housing Assistance for Multifamily Properties, Malloy said.
“The CHAMP initiative demonstrates my administration’s belief that affordable housing is an integral component of economic development,” Malloy said Thursday. “We are committed to a robust housing program that promotes workforce, affordable, supportive, and congregate housing, and we’re just getting started.”
Malloy’s announcement encompassed $500 million in state funding over a 10-year period to both renovate existing affordable housing properties and build new ones.
In addition to Ponemah, four other southeastern Connecticut projects will receive funding through different affordable housing initiatives announced by the governor.
The Faylor Apartments in East Lyme, a 36-unit moderate-priced rental complex owned by Eastern Shores, and the Shetucket Village 20-unit elderly housing complex owned by the Sprague Housing Authority, will receive part of the State Housing Rehabilitation and Preservation program funds.
Malloy announced that $20 million per year for the next 10 years will be invested in “shovel ready” projects to renovate aging existing affordable housing units. Another $10 million will be allocated for preconstruction planning for renovations to some of the state’s most physically deteriorated properties.
Nick Lundgren, director of housing and community development for the state Department of Economic and Community Development, said exact amounts for the Sprague and East Lyme projects have yet to be worked out.
In a third category of funding, the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority also has approved housing tax credits for 26 nonprofit entities statewide to use to develop affordable or workforce housing. The Renaissance City Development Association — formerly New London Development Corp. — received $325,000 for a workforce revolving loan program.
Housing Opportunities for People (HOPE) received $374,554 in tax credits for affordable housing at 9 S. Ledyard St. and 36 Georgiana St. in New London.
Lisa Kidder, spokesman for CHFA, said the nonprofit groups can sell the tax credits dollar for dollar to investing businesses, which receive direct state tax credits. The nonprofits then use the money from the businesses for affordable housing projects.
“As I’ve said before, Connecticut for too long languished in its affordable housing commitments by not investing in this critical area of our overall economic development,” Malloy said. “Housing is a key component of our success to get Connecticut moving again, one that helps individuals and families find stability and employment.”