Written by Michael P. Walsh
WEST HAVEN, CT — Clasping a pair of oversize scissors, Mayor Edward M. O’Brien cut the ceremonial ribbon Thursday with Acorn Group founder David A. Beckerman and Vice President Gary S. Letendre to mark the grand opening of Acorn’s The Atwood, an $18 million apartment and commercial development at 222 Boston Post Road aimed at making the neighborhood around the Allingtown Green a destination.
As many of the new building’s residents, all students of the nearby University of New Haven, moved into their new digs, O’Brien touted The Atwood’s highly anticipated opening as "one example of how we are transforming West Haven through economic development."
"This area is transforming before our eyes," O’Brien told a group of more than a dozen city officials and project executives moments before the afternoon ribbon-cutting, which also included Jay Brotman, managing partner of the New Haven architectural firm Svigals + Partners, state Rep. Michael A. DiMassa, D-West Haven, and city Planning and Development Commissioner Joseph A. Riccio Jr.
"This innovative development initiative, envisioned by David Beckerman, is revitalizing our Allingtown neighborhood and the Allingtown Green area, including our bustling and vibrant Route 1 gateway," O’Brien said later.
"Acorn Group’s goal is to design new buildings and public amenities that make the Allingtown Green more of a destination," Beckerman said in a news release from Acorn’s public relations firm, C.C. Sullivan of Montclair, New Jersey.
The four-story, 90,150-square-foot building, built by the Acorn development company Forest Road Manor LLC on the former 89-year-old site of Carroll Cut-Rate Furniture, houses 67 market-rate apartments, composed of one- and two-bedroom studios, and 15,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor.
During the brief ceremony, Letendre confirmed that the apartments are 100 percent leased by UNH students and the commercial space is 50 percent leased.
He also confirmed that the national retail tenants occupying the ground floor of the brick and fiber cement-sided building include Torrington-based EbLens Clothing & Footwear and Dallas-based Mooyah Burgers, Fries & Shakes.
According to the release, the building’s multihued facade "imbues (the) Allingtown Green with the feel of a traditional American village center, … with (new) retail storefronts … and restaurants … planned around the newly landscaped green to enhance the village feel."
The Atwood, standing between Atwood Place and Taft Avenue, is 400 feet from UNH’s Route 1 campus, which is home to 6,000 students.
The handicapped-accessible, natural gas-fueled apartments are equipped with kitchens with ambient lighting, stainless steel appliances, wood-laminated flooring, and granite countertops with decorative stone backsplashes. They are also outfitted with energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, a sprinkler system, and tiled bathrooms and shower stalls.
The building was constructed by A.P. Construction Co. of Stamford, creating scores of construction jobs and using as many local contractors as possible, Letendre said. It was designed by Svigals + Partners.
"Outside The Atwood," the release said, "generous sidewalks create opportunities for outdoor seating and room for people to congregate and be visible."
Officials said the project, which includes two rear parking lots totaling 181 spaces, will generate $101,776 in property tax revenue for the city in its first year and $370,279 by year eight.
Acorn, based in New Haven, has also announced plans to complement The Atwood with two similar mixed-use developments that would flank opposite sides of the Allingtown Green, which is across the street from the new building.
The 85,000-square-foot Park View, scheduled for construction on Cellini Place on the site of what years ago was the Park Theatre, would include 50 market-rate apartments with covered parking and 20,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor.
Estimated at 90,000 square feet, The Forest, slated for construction on the former site of the demolished Forest Theatre at the intersection of Boston Post Road, Campbell Avenue and Forest Road, would include 62 market-rate apartments with covered parking and 15,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor.
Like The Atwood, the apartments would consist of one- and two-bedroom studios, according to preliminary plans.
On July 24, the City Council approved the sale of 9,024 square feet of the Louis Piantino Branch Library’s parking lot at 1 Forest Road to Acorn for the Park View project. The property was sold for $106,000.
In all, the three developments, collectively known as University Commons, are projected to produce more than $1 million in annual property tax revenue for the city’s coffers, officials said.
"University Commons creates a walkable village with expanded public space — a new and magnetic center that will serve as a foundation for business prosperity and a resource for local needs," the release said.
PHOTO CAPTION — Mayor Edward M. O’Brien, holding a pair of oversize scissors, cuts the ceremonial ribbon Thursday afternoon with, from left, Acorn Group founder David A. Beckerman, Svigals + Partners managing partner Jay Brotman, Acorn Vice President Gary S. Letendre, state Rep. Michael A. DiMassa, D-West Haven, and city Planning and Development Commissioner Joseph A. Riccio Jr. to mark the grand opening of Acorn’s The Atwood, an $18 million housing and commercial development at 222 Boston Post Road. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)