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Affordable apartment complex in Stonington exposes area's housing needs

The Spruce Meadows apartment complex in Stonington is 80% affordable units.
Abigail Brone
/
Connecticut Public
The Spruce Meadows apartment complex in Stonington is 80% affordable units.

A completed affordable housing project in Stonington shows the demand for affordable housing statewide. All of the apartments at the 85-unit Spruce Meadows complex in Stonington are occupied, and 68 of those units are designated affordable.

Only 6% of Stonington’s housing stock is designated affordable, below the state mandated minimum of 10%, according to state data.

Spruce Meadows’ 85 apartments are spread among two buildings and were constructed in two phases by nonprofit affordable housing developers NeighborWorks New Horizons.

With the majority of the apartments designated affordable and fully occupied, housing advocates and state leaders consider Spruce Meadows' occupancy success an example of the demand for more housing stock.

“In order to attract jobs to a community, you have to have places for those people that work there to live,” NeighborWorks CEO Tom Cruess said. “It's not just an issue with Stonington. We're seeing it throughout Connecticut. We primarily work from really the shoreline, all the way from Bridgeport, up to here. And we see that across the board, that there's just not the opportunities for affordable housing for those people that need it.”

The complex is mixed-income, with several market-rate apartments. The 80% of units designated affordable cost from 25% to 60% of the area’s median income.

The first phase of construction was completed in 2017. The second phase began in 2018, but wasn’t completed until 2021, due to supply chain and funding complications.

“The total was about approximately $30 million between the two phases,” Cruess said. “The second phase was quite a bit more. We did have some cost overruns. The construction happened during the pandemic, so we experienced all the supply chain issues and price escalation.”

The project ran between 10% and 15% over budget, and was largely funded through state and federal affordable housing grants, Cruess said.

Despite the delays, Spruce Meadows remains fully occupied.

With nearby Electric Boat hiring thousands of new employees in the coming years, the region recently began an apartment construction spree.

Companies struggle to invest in the state if employees have nowhere to live, U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, who represents the New London area, said.

“The urgency of this issue right now in the region is off the charts, because of the hiring spree that's been going on in Groton,” Courtney said. “Some of these new employees, whether they're in the metal trades, or engineering or design, are obviously looking for a place to live, if they accept a job offer.”

Electric Boat has hired 3,000 new employees so far this year. New London’s responded to the increase in residency and employment with 300 new apartments units under construction or recently completed.

DOH commissioner Seila Mosquera-Bruno (left) and Joe courtney and talk while touring one of Spruce Meadows apartment units in Stonington.
Abigail Brone
/
Connecticut Public
DOH commissioner Seila Mosquera-Bruno (left) and Joe courtney and talk while touring one of Spruce Meadows apartment units in Stonington.

Abigail is Connecticut Public's housing reporter, covering statewide housing developments and issues, with an emphasis on Fairfield County communities. She received her master's from Columbia University in 2020 and graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2019. Abigail previously covered statewide transportation and the city of Norwalk for Hearst Connecticut Media. She loves all things Disney and cats.

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