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Developer scales back proposal for former Hartford site

The Silverman Group now proposing 432 residential units, more affordable options, fewer stories on apartment buildings and addition of commercial space for 'The Ridge at Talcott Mountain South'

By John Fitts Staff Writer


SIMSBURY – In response to significant feedback from town commissioners, the company looking to develop The Ridge at Talcott Mountain South on the 124-acre former campus of The Hartford has modified its application – lowering the number of proposed residential units from 580 to 432, while reducing the height of apartment buildings, increasing the number of affordable units and adding commercial space.

Last fall, New Jersey based Silverman Group formally proposed a Master Site Development Plan, which involved a proposed 580-unit residential development for the 200 Hopmeadow St. property.

Numerous residents have objected to the plan, raising concerns about traffic, town character, potential school impact and more. Town commissions have also raised concerns and suggested changes, including the Planning Commission, which expressed concerns with the project, including viewshed and mixed-use considerations.

For example Simsbury Director of Community Planning and Development George K. McGregor, in his staff report, included comments from various commissions and departments. Included were several from the Planning Department, such as, “The intent of the Hartford Form Based Code contemplates a mixed-use approach with some non-residential components. That is the reason for a Neighborhood Transition Zone—it is designed to transition between a Neighborhood Commercial Zone and Neighborhood Zones. As proposed, there are just two zones (yes, one denser than the other); If there are certain market-based realities at play, this is a concept that should be discussed further as a part of this process. We acknowledge that the commercial office and retail markets are evolving, but so are work-from-home and hybrid trends. Comments below under General Site Layout suggest some non-residential component alternatives for consideration."

Another stated, "The protection of the public viewshed to the ridgeline and Heublein Tower to the east of the project is paramount and a priority public policy goal. The submitted viewshed analysis is under review. One option to ensuring the viewshed is protected if the viewshed analysis is not dispositive, is by reducing the four-story units to three. This change would have other site effects related to parking amounts and open space."

While it had already modified some aspects of the plan, The Silverman Group has made several more in advance of the Feb. 5 Zoning and Design Review meetings.

“As the applicant, we are appreciative of the comments and guidance received thus far from the Zoning Commission, the Design Review Board, and the Town Planning Staff,” Holden Sabato, Development Director, at the Silverman Group wrote in a submission to the commission dated Jan. 29. “In response to these comments we have made significant revisions for review and consideration in preparation of the upcoming February 5, [2024] Design Review Board and Zoning Commission Meetings.”

Those changes include:

• Reduction of residential units down to 432, including 325 apartments, 66 duplexes, and 41 single family.

• Increase of affordability options under the state guidelines to 15 percent. That results in 65 units, as opposed to 58 affordable units in the original plan. (Under the state statute 8-30g, affordable units are set aside for those making 60 or 80 percent of the state – or area - median income).

• Apartments buildings are now proposed at 3 stories – not 4 as in the original plan.

• The plan now seeks 27,500 square feet of commercia flex space such as office and retail and seeks code changes that would also allow uses such light industry and assembly, light manufacturing and research and development in certain areas.

• The addition of an approximate 5,000 square-foot restaurant.

• Replacement of some single-family units with duplexes.

SL Simsbury LCC, managed by members of the Silverman Group, purchased the property in 2015 from the Hartford, focusing first on development of the northern, undeveloped portion of the property.

The project is within the Hartford-Simsbury FormBased Code.

As per McGregor’s staff reports on the latest proposal, “Adopted in 2014, the Hartford-Simsbury FormBased Code was 'intended to implement a longterm, sustainable redevelopment strategy' for the former site of the Hartford Insurance Company. Bisected by Minister Brook, the former Hartford site fronts Hopmeadow St. and backs to the Farmington River. The northern parcel (38.99 acres) was approved for +-300 residential units (including a portion dedicated to the assisted living continuum) and about 22,000 sq.ft. of commercial space in two buildings. The residential component of the north property is 100% built out and occupied. The southern parcel (124.64 acres), subject to this application, is vacant, the Hartford office building demolished, with the parking area and asphalt infrastructure remaining.”

 In previous meetings, Silverman Group has stated that the estimated completion of The Ridge at Talcott Mountain South would be expected between mid-2026 and the start of 2027.

The Feb. 5 Zoning Commission meeting is set to take place 7 p.m. in the Simsbury Public Library Friends of the Simsbury Public Library meeting room.

The graphics below show the revised layout plan.





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