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Dale Kroop, Director
Economic Development and Neighborhood Revitalization
2750 Dixwell Ave.
Hamden, CT, 06518
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Highwood Square Housing Brings Hope to Hamden

6/14/2011

Highwood Square Housing Brings Hope to Hamden

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                            CONTACT:              Devon Jerome

June 6th, 2011                                                                                                                                     203-287-7030

                                                                                                                                                               djerome@hamden.com

 

Hamden, Connecticut – The affordable artist housing units of Highwood Square Artists Housing were officially opened to the public last Friday afternoon.  Nearly 150 supporters of the Hamden community including Mayor Scott Jackson and United States Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony.  The retro-style housing complex which was once considered a blighted property is now widely seen as the start to an improved southern Hamden residential and commercial area.

Highwood Square remains one of southern Hamden’s most recognized and prominent landmarks.  It was once home to the 100,000 sq.ft. Johnson Wholesale Perfume Company factory and the 12,000 sq.ft. Nabisco Bakery location until a fire devastated both properties.  The Town spent the several years planning the project and remediating the land with grants from United Illuminating (UI) and the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development.

The $12 million project consists of three major buildings surrounding a grassy courtyard.  While a newly constructed building holds 17 units, the developer, NeighborWorks New Horizons, was able to salvage portions of the original structures.  The first floor of the factory building will be used as commercial space, while the second floor consists of 10 apartment units.  There is a total of 27 residential units and 14,000 s.f. of commercial space.  The commercial space is available for pedestrian-type businesses and for uses related to the arts.

Dale Kroop, the Director of Economic and Community Development led the renovation efforts since 2000.  He accredited much of construction effort’s success to all of the partners including NeighborWorks New Horizons.  “It became a story about building hope in the community that hadn’t seen much hope in a very long time,” Kroop said.

Foreclosure of the property in 2000 led to a $10,000 grant from United Illuminating to develop a concept plan.  In 2002, the Town of Hamden received a state grant to demolish the remaining building and remediate the site.  In 2004, NeighborWorks New Horizons was chosen as the Preferred Developer and broke ground in 2009.  The success of the project is significant given the overwhelming pollution and originally poor condition of the location.  In total, five (5) brownfield properties were remediated.

Mr. Jackson hopes that the Highwood Square construction will lead to increased development efforts in the community.  He described the opening as taking “an abandoned, desolate property and [turning] it into something fantastic.”  Mr. Blumenthal saw the opening as being a, “wonderfully proud day for NeighborWorks and the Town of Hamden.”

According to NeighborWorks, 750 applications were given out, 105 were approved, and all 27 units are now filled.  All 27 units provide residents with direct access to studios below.  While non-artists were welcomed to apply, the property’s artistic theme is maintained through its residents, many of whom are painters, singers, dancers, and poets.  The southern Hamden-like style can be seen through the Highwood Square project as building materials include metal shingles, fiber cement board, and corrugated metal.

Resident Weam Hasan said, “It’s just wonderful.  There are no words to describe it.”


For further information on the Highwood Square project, contact:

Dale Kroop

Director of Economic and Community Development

2750 Dixwell Avenue

Hamden, Connecticut 06518

203-287-7033

 

For further information on the apartment or commercial space, contact:

Gloribell Lopez

NeighborWorks New Horizons

203-562-4514 ext. 19


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