With permission from the city, developer duo Jacob and Josef Feldman might soon offer 64 new apartment units for residents looking to live downtown.
The Feldman brothers, who own the local real-estate firm MOD Equities, petitioned the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals on Tuesday evening for approval of variances and special exceptions for properties on 19 Elm St. and 418 State St. The developers aim to convert the former Harold’s Bridal Shop on Elm to a five-story, mixed-use building with 46 residential units. MOD Equities also plans to transform the historical John English building on State Street to a mixed-use complex with 18 apartment units.
Advisory reports from the City Plan Department recommended approval for both buildings. The BZA will vote on these issues April 12, after the City Plan Commission holds a hearing for both proposals next week.
“We are staying within many of the more restrictive residential provisions,” said Matthew Ranelli, the lawyer representing MOD Equities on the Elm proposal.
Alongside these two developments, MOD Equities will also build a 115-unit, short-term apartment complex at the corner of High and George Streets. Other examples in the recent wave of downtown revitalizations include the mixed Metro Star, a mixed-use development on Crown and George Streets and the Novella apartment building at Chapel and Howe Streets.
The brothers aim to renovate the former formalwear rental space on Elm by building four new floors to accommodate the planned 46 units. Ground floor space in the front of the building will serve a commercial purpose, while the back of the first floor will also be residential space.
MOD Equities is seeking a special exception to permit 19 parking spaces where 25 are required. Ranelli said the 19 parking spaces would be sufficient given the property’s proximity to transportation and other amenities. The plan includes 40 parking spots for bicycles as well, Ranelli noted.
MOD Equities has also requested variances to permit two sidewall heights taller than allowed, and to omit the required 5-foot front yard from the project.
Jacob Feldman estimated that around 100 people will live in the building and called the location a “walker’s paradise,” given its proximity to Wooster Park and the town green. He said developers considered the historical architecture already extant on the same block when designing the exterior of the proposed building.
At 418 State St., the Feldman brothers intend to maintain the facade of the original building, which was constructed in the 1860s. The new development will feature 18 residential units on the third and fourth floors of the building, Greg Muccilli, another lawyer representing MOD Equities, reported at the meeting. Muccilli spoke in favor of a variance to minimize the required usable open space from 450 square feet to none. City Plan staff agreed, as the building predates current zoning and is comparable to other multiuse buildings in the area with limited or no useable open space. Developers also requested a special variance to provide no parking spaces where 13 are required.
Development at the English building is especially transit-oriented given the property’s location near the State Street Station and bus stops, Muccilli said. Through its alternative transit considerations, the development is in line with the city’s 2025 Vision plan — a set of citywide housing, transportation and economic goals — Muccilli added.
Two neighbors flanking the 19 Elm St. property said at the meeting that they had only recently learned of the proposal and were generally in favor of it. Joseph Mirrione, principal at the law firm based on 27 Elm St., said he was concerned there may not be enough parking and said he hopes developers will “work through” the issue.
The developers also met with the Downtown-Wooster Square Community Management Team last May. Ranelli said the proposals were “well-received” by the community management team.
A 2014 report from New York real estate research firm Reis stated that New Haven’s 2.1 percent vacancy rate was the lowest in the country.