Metro Realty is building an 88-unit apartment building near Eversource’s campus in Berlin, with a significant share of the building dedicated to workforce housing.
Bulldozers and earthmovers are working on land along Deming Road about three-quarters of a mile east of the Berlin Turnpike.
The Deming Ridge project will have one- and two-bedroom apartments, and Metro Realty is promoting it as convenient to employers and retailers. Plans show 11 two-story buildings on the nearly 12-acre site at 883 Deming Road, with individual patios or balconies as well as a communal patio and grill area. The company is also advertising that it will include a fitness center.
Farmington-based Metro Realty operates the Fieldstone Crossing complex on the opposite side of Deming. The company cleared the mostly wooded property and will connect the apartments to municipal water and sewer systems.
The town and state gave permits for the project last year, and the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority approved nearly $12 million in financing to aid development.
CHFA noted that all of the apartments will be set aside for tenants making no more than the area median income, which currently is $112,700 for a family of four under U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development guidelines. Of the 88 units, 18 will be designated for tenants making up to half of that figure, and another nine will be set aside for those making up to 60% of it.
Those 27 apartments will count toward Berlin’s state-mandated affordable housing goal, which has become a major effort for the town.
The state is pressing all 169 municipalities to ensure that at least 10% of their housing is available at affordable rates. Generally, affluent suburbs and small, rural towns have well under the 10% goal. Brookfield, for instance, is at about 5.6 %; Granby is under 4%, and Westport is 3.7%. The pattern is the opposite for larger, poorer cities; New London and Waterbury each report more than 20% affordable housing rates, for instance.
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Jim Mahoney, Berlin’s economic development coordinator, said in a report earlier this year that the town has surpassed the 9% mark, and is getting closer to 10%. He cited Deming Ridge as one of three new projects that will help.
The town managed to get the level up by from about 7% in 2011 to 9.02% two years ago, he said.
“This increase in the supply of affordable housing is a result of intentional efforts by the town over the past two decades to expand the supply of affordable housing in Berlin,” he wrote.
In the case of Deming Ridge, the planning and zoning commission modified its regulations in 2019 and 2020 to provide for workforce housing on the site.
The town has a need for affordable housing, Mahoney wrote, noting that nearly half of renter households in town earn less than the area median income.
“These households often experience housing instability, may rely on housing assistance, and typically spend more on housing as a percentage of their overall income than higher income households,” he wrote.
“The rental supply is tight at both the lowest end and high end of the income spectrum. For extremely low-income renter households, the supply of affordable and available units is especially limited,” he wrote. “There are 505 units that are likely rented by households with lower incomes who are likely spending more than they should on housing costs.”