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Developers ask for more time in stalled New London project

September 27, 2018

New London — The developer of a stalled apartment complex on Howard Street wants a 10-month extension to its development agreement as it continues to seek a partner to help finance the project.

The request from the Tagliatela family, doing business as Shipway 221 LLC, went before the Executive Committee of the Renaissance City Development Association on Wednesday.

While acknowledging more than a year’s worth of work by the two sides on the project, committee members appeared hesitant to tie up the 5.5-acre property during what many consider a local housing boom related to growth in employment at Electric Boat. A 98-unit apartment complex is expected to break ground this year at the corner of Bank and Howard streets.

No vote was taken on the request and the committee agreed to meet at a later date.

The Tagliatelas first pitched the idea of the Shipway 221 housing development more than a year ago. The estimated 600,000 already is invested and argued for more time to salvage the project.

“We thank you for all that you’ve done to this date,” Lopes said. “I apologize if there are some people here who may be upset with us that we’re not easily walking away from an investment that is well over half a million dollars. We would walk away if we thought it was dead. We don’t feel that way at this time. We still have a few avenues to pursue.”

Shipway is now marketing the project through commercial real estate broker Marcus & Millichap.

Lopes spent more than an hour fielding questions from RCDA members Gail Schwenker-Mayer, Nicholas Caplanson, Paul Geraghty, First Vice President Mark Christiansen and President Linda Mariani.

RCDA committee members asked Lopes about any new developments in the search for an equity partner and questioned the timeline that would allow the project to move forward.

Christiansen noted that that, even if Shipway secured a partner, it likely would take months longer to traverse the vetting and approval process for the new partner. Additionally, the project is reliant on a land-swap agreement between Shipway and Yale New Haven Health to create a contiguous piece of property. The previous agreement has expired.

Terms of the development agreement stipulate that Shipway also will pay an amount equal to real estate taxes, about 19,781 check earlier this year and another bill will be due in January.

Lopes said it is unlikely that his company would want to invest any further if a partner did not surface by the beginning of the new year.

“Why would we throw good money after bad if it is apparent we will not succeed?” Lopes said. “We are straight shooters. We will not waste your time. We will not waste our time. We would walk away if we thought it was dead.”

The Tagliatelas, who also do business as Franklin Enterprises, have multimillion housing projects now under construction in Hamden and Maine. They funded both the 52-unit Harbour Towers condominium complex and City Flats initiative to rehab older homes in the city.

Terms of the development agreement dictate that the Tagliatelas are committed to building at least 60 of the Shipway units and maintaining a majority interest in the project.

Considering the investment, Lopes said he thought asking for more time was a “fair request.”

“Obviously, if that’s not granted, we’re going to be thinking in two different ways and that will lead wherever it leads,” Lopes said.

“What does that mean?” Mariani asked.

“It means that each party will protect its interests,” Lopes said.

g.smith@theday.com

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