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April 17. 2013 12:30AM

Construction set to begin on Milford apartment complex

MILFORD - With funding in place and the closing date just around the corner, construction is expected to begin in May on 50 new apartments at the Pine Valley Mill on the Wilton town line.

Robert Arista of Waltham, Mass.-based Dakota Partners said the $11 million project will convert part of the 19th century mill into one- and two-bedroom apartments, designed to offer affordable housing.

Though the project has been close to a year in the making, with much of that time spent securing funding from both public and private resources, work is going to start soon.

"It's imminent," Arista said. "We're days away from closing."

Bill Parker, director of community development in Milford, said funding for the project has been complex and comes from a variety of sources.

According to Executive Counselor Debra Pignatelli, a community block grant was recently approved to help move the project along. Arista said that grant is essentially a loan to the developers by the state and the town of Milford.

The project's chief financial backer, Bank of America, will also be applying for tax credits to help reduce the cost of the project so that rents can be made affordable, Arista said.

The 50 apartments will take up part of the building, but there are a number of commercial spaces that will remain where they are, including a hair salon and a dog groomer.

Arista said that by mixing business and residential spaces, the building will feel more like a neighborhood instead of simply an apartment complex.

The mill has been used predominantly for manufacturing in recent years. A high-end microphone company is located in the space, and iRobot was once located there as well.

Much of the space has been sitting empty, however.

When Arista learned about the property from a friend, he began doing research and learned that there's a lack of affordable housing for younger people in the area.

The location of the building - just off the Route 101 bypass on the Wilton line, doesn't offer the traffic necessary to create a retail space, so residential units made the most sense.

Rents for the one-bedroom apartments, which will be around 700 square feet, will start at $700 a month, and the first occupants may be able to move in by March 1, 2014, Arista said.


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