Developers hope to add 750 homes to struggling Milford mall

The first attempt required a trip back to the drawing board. The second prompted a lawsuit. But now owners of Connecticut mall have returned with a third plan to add lots of homes to the retail property.

Austin-based Centennial Real Estate is set to present its latest proposal for the Connecticut Post Mall to Milford’s Planning and Zoning board meeting this week, the New Haven Register reported. The 50-acre mall site at 1201 Boston Post Road has been targeted for a conversion for years.

Centennial is seeking more housing units in its latest proposal, according to Patch, but with construction spread out, perhaps to lessen the immediate impact. The addition of up to 750 multifamily housing units would unfold in three phases, each capped at 250 units. At least 10 percent of the units would be affordable.

The first phase would include a plaza spanning at least 25,000 square feet, multifamily units, and be mixed-use. The next two phases could have housing units either in their own buildings or in mixed-use buildings.

This is the first Centennial proposal since Mayor Richard Smith assumed office in the spring. His initial response was positive: Smith’s chief of staff told the Register that the proposal has “a more integrated layout where folks who live in these apartments will take advantage of the local green space and utilize the shops.”

Centennial has been trying for years to add residences to the mall. Its first proposal, in 2020, called for 300 apartments on a four-acre chunk of the mall. Zoning officials rejected the request, arguing for more uses, including commercial space. The mall ranks at the top of the list of Milford’s annual taxpayers.

Localities outside of New York City often prefer commercial development because it contributes property taxes without adding children that swell school district budgets and, thus, property taxes.

Centennial’s second proposal, a year later, didn’t even get to a vote. At the end of the year, Centennial sued the city, Patch reported, claiming the city was acting “illegally, arbitrarily and in abuse of its discretion.”

With a new plan and new city leadership, the three-year fight to revitalize the mall could finally be coming to a resolution.

Centennial has pursued mixed-use redevelopments well beyond Connecticut. Last week, the developer bought the Valencia Town Center in Santa Clarita, California, setting sights on adding homes, offices and more businesses to the 1-million-square-foot mall.

Holden Walter-Warner

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