Groton ― The town and city will consider holding the owner of Branford Manor in default on a tax incentive agreement, in an effort to motivate the owner to quickly address the health and maintenance issues of residents of the subsidized subdivision of 441 units.
Residents have complained of mold, along with other issues, at Branford Manor, located on Mather Avenue in the city.
Groton City Mayor Keith Hedrick, Groton City Manager John Burt, and City Mayor Juan Melendez, Jr. jointly issued a press release Thursday evening announcing that they intended to consider, through their respective councils on Tuesday, placing Branford Manor Preservation, LP, a subsidiary of Related, and owner of the development, in default of the tax incentive agreement signed in 2017. They recommend that councils should then vote to approve.
The agreement provides an annual tax abatement of approximately $500,000 to the company, which in turn is required to maintain 100% Section 8 housing and 100% limited income rental housing and also invest “$18.5 million to construct a new 3,000 square foot Resident Services building; and maintain exterior and interior repairs, upgrades, renovations and replacements of property, including buildings and personal property,” the statement said.
After residents complained last spring of health, maintenance and communication issues, officials said in Thursday’s statement that the city and Ledge Light Health District continue to work with tenants and the community. direction to resolve the issues that Groton town officials have encountered. parties to understand the issues and “improve the health and safety of people living at Branford Manor.”
Melendez, Burt and Hedrick said in the statement that Related failed to use “adequate resources to address these violations.”
“The town and city remain committed to ensuring that Related fulfills the terms of the agreement and provides Branford Manor with clean and safe housing,” they said in the statement. “To this end, and for the purpose of inducing Related to engage in the work which is to be carried out pursuant to the Agreement,” the Town and City intend to consider default.
Branford Manor Apartments released a statement Thursday evening in response.
“The health and safety of residents continues to be our top priority as we work diligently through the plan developed in partnership with the City and Town of Groton to rectify any concerns raised at Branford Manor. We are currently undertaking this comprehensive strategy to bring in all necessary resources and are working in good faith with elected officials and residents to ensure this is done as quickly and professionally as possible. While we aggressively address the issues, we will continue to support affected residents with alternative options, including hotel rooms and on-site accommodations. We respond to any issues raised by local agencies and residents as they arise and continue to report progress,” he said.
Burt said by email that any action to hold the company in default taken by the board on Tuesday would specify a deadline for Related to return to compliance. If the company does not meet the deadline, the Commission may choose to terminate the agreement.
Burt said the tax abatement is about $450,000 a year for the city, and he estimates it’s about $60,000 for the city.
Hedrick said over the phone that he hopes Related dedicates additional resources to resolving the issues because it has taken too long for the company to take initial steps to keep mothers and children safe.
The town and city sent the company a joint letter outlining expectations, following a June city council full committee meeting at which Related officials apologized and said they had a plan to solve the problems.
“Hopefully this will motivate them to devote additional resources to quickly restoring the property,” Hedrick said.
“I don’t think Related should get a tax abatement with the conditions Branford residents live in,” Melendez said in a statement. “My goal is to get all affected Branford residents home, safe and happy, as quickly as possible. Hopefully this decision will speed up the process.