Developer Restores Housing, Repairs Neighborhood Prideby
2016 CT MAIN STREET PROPERTY OWNER OF THE YEAR
Tony Silvestri, Developer & Property Manager, New London’s City Flats
Abandoned buildings and badly dilapidated houses, a historic home badly damaged by arson and then left to the elements. This described the neighborhoods that Tony Silvestri sought to rejuvenate. He had an audacious goal to construct a large-scale housing restoration project that would provide opportunity and stability in the heart of downtown New London.
No stranger to development, Tony Silvestri’s New London Harbour Towers, is a 52-unit luxury condo building, completed in 2010 on New London’s Bank Street. Silvestri and the Tagliatela family, New Haven developers who financed the building of the condo complex, found that the streets behind their new building provided challenges to their being able to sell some of their units. The blighted residences nearby were in stark contrast to the beautiful new Harbour Towers, and the units facing away from Bank Street overlooked some very troubled properties.
The idea for City Flats was born. If Harbour Towers’ developers could acquire the nearby properties and cost-effectively renovate and upgrade them, then sell them so that the neighborhood was populated by moderate and middle income homeowners, the area could be transformed.
According to Tony Silvestri, City Flats is “not affordable housing, but rather housing that is affordable.” He describes the project as the “opposite of gentrification,” noting that not one resident has been displaced during this process, and that the $900 average monthly expense (inclusive of principle, interest, taxes, and association fees) to own one of the new condo units is less than the cost to rent an apartment in the previously neglected buildings. Owners of the new condo units are purchasing fully-renovated homes, including roofs, siding, energy-efficient windows, heating, electrical, and plumbing systems, and no-maintenance landscaping – and the neighborhood benefits from a new sense of pride of ownership.
It is estimated that the tax benefit to the City, based on the extensive renovations leading to the increased property value, plus the conversion of rental units to owner-occupied condos, is a 30% increase.
Tony Silvestri and his team at City Flats found a way to completely rehabilitate older housing stock that has been allowed to deteriorate for decades. They have written a new “rule book” and have put processes and creative solutions in place; and they are willing to share what they have learned.