RMS Companies’ Asher project at 150 Broad St. in Stamford received a partial certificate of occupancy last week. The 228-unit apartment complex lists studios renting from $2,300. Image courtesy of RMS Cos.

In Hartford and Stamford, developer Randy Salvatore has delivered 465 apartments to downtown neighborhoods in recent months. In Rocky Hill, town officials and a Hamden developer are creating a new town center virtually from scratch, including 215 apartments that broke ground in the fall.

The projects reflect a statewide trend in which development activity skewed toward multifamily projects in 2023, even as single-family home construction slowed. Despite the rising costs of financing and construction, developers say the multifamily market fundamentals continue to make urban core projects feasible in Connecticut.

“Good locations and good projects are the projects that make sense,” said Salvatore, CEO of Stamford-based RMS Cos. “It’s the marginal ones that are more difficult.”

Stamford, Rocky Hill, Farmington and New Haven led the Nutmeg State in housing permits issued during 2023, according to the state Department of Economic and Community Development. More than 5,200 housing permits were issued, including more than 3,000 for apartments and condominiums, representing the state’s highest housing production mark since 2015.

The Pennant at North Crossing, the first 237 apartments in RMS Cos.’ North Crossing development in Hartford, opened in October next to Dunkin’ Donuts Park. The complex is fully leased, and Salvatore expects to break ground on the second phase of 270 apartments this year, pending finalized construction financing.

The firm, one of Connecticut’s most active apartment developers, already is eyeing additional growth in Hartford after acquiring the former Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute graduate campus on Windsor Street in November. RMS Cos. has begun demolition and abatement work to prepare the site for an additional 473 apartments approved by city officials.

In downtown Stamford, RMS’ 228-unit Asher apartment complex received a partial certificate of occupancy last week. The property lists one-bedroom units starting at around $2,700. And in Norwalk, RMS has begun demolition of a former YMCA at 370 West Ave. after receiving approval in 2023 for a 204-unit apartment complex.

Developers need to put more equity into projects to compensate for the higher interest rate environment, Salvatore said, but rents continue to support new construction.

“The returns are a little tighter, but we are taking a long-term view because we intend to hold them for a longer period of time,” he said.

Hamden-based Belfonti Companies broke ground last fall on its Kelson Row at Rocky Hill project, including more than 213 apartments on a property that once housed the Ames department store headquarters. Image courtesy of Studio Architects

Ames Redevelopment Transforms Rocky Hill Center

Connecticut’s rising multifamily construction pipeline confirms demand for rental housing in high-density, walkable areas near services and amenities, local officials say.

Belfonti Cos. of Hamden began construction in mid-fall on 215 apartments at the former Ames department store headquarters property. Known as Kelson Row at Rocky Hill, the project will include 11 buildings including ground-floor retail and office space on a 12-acre site.

“Single-family development is pretty slow and we don’t have a lot of land left, but multifamily seems to be quite active,” Rocky Hill Town Manager Raymond Carpentino said. “And that’s where the financing is.”

Two other multifamily projects are under construction in the Hartford suburb, including a 54-unit office-to-residential conversion at 1344-1360 Silas Deane Highway.

Vessel Technologies, a New York developer that specializes in modular multifamily developments assembled on-site, recently obtained building permits for a 96-unit apartment complex at 125 Henkel Way in Rocky Hill.

After rejecting an earlier proposal that attracted opposition from residents, town officials suggested an alternate site to Vessel Technologies, which received approval in August.

“They were very pro-housing,” Vessel Technologies CEO Neil Rubler said. “They are thoughtful and it’s a perfect example of the type of relations we seek to have in any community.”

Currently, only 5 percent of Rocky Hill’s housing stock, or 454 units, is classified as affordable by the state Department of Housing’s formula. The town’s 2022 affordable housing plan, required by state law to be updated every five years, recommended legalizing accessory dwelling units, providing incentives for projects reserved for households earning 100 to 120 percent of area median income, and allowing deed-restricted micro-units. A committee is being formed that will make recommendations to the town council, Carpentino said.