In Sheldon-Charter Oak, CIL Chips Away At Dismal Hartford Homeownership

by Categorized: Hartford Redevelopment Date:

Hartford’s homeownership rate is among the lowest across the country for cities, but one project in the Sheldon-Charter Oak neighborhood is chipping away at that dismal standing.

The Corporation for Independent Living, a non-profit that develops and builds housing for low- and moderate-income families, has sold two of the eight, single-family attached houses in a redevelopment near the old Capewell Horseshoe Nail factory.

Martin Legault, right, president of the Corportion for Independent Living, and Elaine Schmidt, left, CIL senior housing developer, at CIL redevelopment in Hartford's Sheldon-Charter Oak neighborhood. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/kgosselin@courant.com

Martin Legault, right, president of the Corportion for Independent Living, and Elaine Schmidt, left, CIL senior housing developer, at CIL redevelopment in Hartford’s Sheldon-Charter Oak neighborhood. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/kgosselin@courant.com

Another two units are under contract, and CIL is working with four more potential buyers. The first phase of the redevelopment eventually will have 16 houses.

“We are hoping to raise the level of commitment to homeownership in the city,” Martin M. Legault, president of CIL, told me today.

CIL has renovated and constructed dozens of houses around the city, including some in the 1990s on nearby Wyllys Street.

The purchase prices are $155,000 for a 1,600-square-foot, two-bedroom house and between $165,000 and $175,000 for a slightly larger, three-bedroom house. Each house comes with a two-car garage.

The houses cost far more to construct — closer to $200,000 for each house not counting other additional costs such as paying off back taxes that were owned on the property.

But subsidies, including nearly $4 million from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, are keeping prices down and encouraging urban homeownership, Legault said.

To qualify for a shot at purchasing, families must earn 80 percent or less of the median income for the Hartford area. For a family of four, annual income would have to be $65,000 or less a year.

Applicants must also complete an 8-hour homeownership training program.

Martin Legault in the dining room and kitchen area of a three-bedroom house on Popieluszko Court. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/kgosselin@courant.com

Martin Legault in the dining room and kitchen area of a three-bedroom house on Popieluszko Court. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/kgosselin@courant.com

One of the first things you notice walking into the houses is that there is unexpected attention to details: wide window moulding, six-panel interior doors and oval windows.

The houses must be owned by low- and moderate-income families for 15 years. If they are sold before that to buyers who don’t meet the income guidelines, those buyers would be required to also pay off a portion of the housing subsidies, Elaine Schmidt, CIL’s senior housing developer, told me.

Another phase of the redevelopment — another eight units — also is planned. But standing on the sidewalk outside the completed houses, Legault also has his eye on the massive, decaying Capewell factory just down the street at the corner of Charter Oak Avenue and Popieluszko Court.

He hopes that the old factory will become housing one day, too. Perhaps for condos, he says.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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8 thoughts on “In Sheldon-Charter Oak, CIL Chips Away At Dismal Hartford Homeownership

  1. Unhealthy Jim

    This is a really nice idea. I am a little perplexxed as to why a home of this size costs closer to $200K when one could buy a $200K home in the South that has well over 2,000sf and a 2 car garage. Can someone please tell me why there is such a huge price differential between New England and the South? Are the materials cheaper? Do builders make less down there?

    1. Patrick

      A couple of different factors account for the potential price difference.
      1)Labor to build the houses is more expensive here due to higher wages/cost of living.
      2)The land to actually build the houses on is much cheaper down south where they are nowhere near built out vs a place like Hartford which is all built out so there could involve some demolition, like in this project. Land in general is way cheaper down south b/c there so much left to develop.
      3)Building materials are going to be a little more expensive up here as well. Especially since you have to build for colder winters and snow weight on roofs.
      4)Almost all homes and condos here have the added expense of building a basement, which most/many down south don’t have. Also, the addition of building sewer lines under the roads here, which many developments down south don’t have either.
      5)Also, the farther south you go, the more constructions days in a year you have to build, therefore costing a builder less time/money to build X number of homes in a year.

      All those factors added together get added onto the cost of building a home here/make it cheaper down south. I have family members who live in new construction here and down south. While home construction is cheaper down there, the quality of craftsmanship, in my and their opinion, is lacking there. Just my thoughts, hope this helps.

      1. Patrick

        One more…
        6)Roads here cost more to build b/c they’re made with more asphalt/concrete to withstand winter freezes and plow damage/wear.

  2. mike

    With downtown getting all of these new apartments I really want to see more ownership units sprout up. Apartments are great, but homeowners make the community and ultimately stabalize it long term. These townhomes are a great little addition on the edge of downtown. I am not sure about capewell as mixed income, but someone needs to develop that old factory. its a great building and has a ton of potential. not to mention the property attached, and surrounding these townhomes is massive. Id love to see some mid rise apartments and condos sprout up in this area.

    In the next 20 years, Charter Oak will be, in my opinion the premier “downtown” neighborhood. Anchored by Coltsville and colt park, the sky is the limit over there.

  3. Lee

    Good on the surface, however, subsidized housing falsely reduces the fair market value of existing homes in the city. Instead of building new subsidized housing give those same subsidies to lower income families in the form of down payment monies to invest in the current market, which stabilizes the market value and tax base for the city. Giving a population a lower cost entry point only further erodes the current values of the remainder of the properties within the city but also further erodes the much needed property tax base.

  4. sherri

    Why would anyone pay these prices for a row house (even new construction) in Hartford, with all its woes, including terrible schools and crime, when one can buy an older, but still in good shape, small single family two or three bedroom house in surrounding areas with better schools and low crime for similar prices? Is it because these houses are being sold to be people whose income and credit record doesn’t qualify them for the mortgage? That’s only going to lead to foreclosures. People who are being foreclosed upon don’t take care of properties, and they often strip them of furnaces, appliances, even kitchen cabinets and fixtures before they are evicted. If these properties are being sold to people who have a bad financial track record, or who don’t have annual earnings of about one third of the purchase price, they will not be able to pay the mortgage, and the properties will fall into foreclosure, and disrepair.

    1. iheartsushi

      Because not everyone lives your kind of lifestyle and people can choose to live where ever they please.

  5. zimbu

    You forgot the big one all construction up here is unionized, in many cases by law, if any govt money is involved down south is all right to work

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