April 11, 2005
By JEFFREY B. COHEN, Courant Staff Writer
19th-century homes on Belden Street in Hartford's North End
will be transformed from squatters' domains to homes as a
group of developers prepares to close on a sale from the
city and begin a $3.4 million restoration project.
Construction on the project is expected to start in May, according
"This can have a positive effect on the neighborhoods that
we work in," said John Reveruzzi, one of the five developers
involved in Belden Development LLC that is interested in furthering
the thought that homeownership and Hartford go together. "And
it affects all the other development we do in the City of Hartford.
It's the ripple effect."
Reveruzzi's company, Milano Corp., is joined by Broad-Park Development
Corp. Inc., Corporation for Independent Living Inc., Greater
Hartford Realty Management Corp., and Hopgood Group LLC. Together
they make up Belden Development LLC - essentially the same group
that completed the Mortson-Putnam Heights project in the Frog
The city acquired the vacant
Belden Street homes in 2002 through foreclosures. "We
took possession of those a few years back with the specific
intent of identifying a developer to fix them, put them back
in service and provide homeownership," said
Bruno Mazzulla, the city's director of housing and community
The project aims to revive both the historic homes and the block
itself - one that outlived the riots and urban renewal efforts
of decades past and that is now a frequent stop for city police
fighting drugs and crime.
According to information presented to the Capital City Economic
Development Authority, the homes at 22, 28, 32, 38 and 44 Belden
St. will each have a large three-bedroom unit, and a smaller
two-bedroom rental unit for a total of 10 new units. They will
be joined by new homes at 48 and 54 Belden St. - each built on
vacant lots that the corporation is buying from the city. These
homes, too, will have a combination of owner-occupied and rental
housing. Sales prices are expected to range from $157,000 to
But the $3.4 million project
cost is far from being funded by the estimated $1.1 million
in sales when the units are completed. The remaining $2.2 million
will come from "gap financing" -
grant money from various state and local agencies and nonprofits
interested in homeownership.
The two largest chunks of money are $900,000 from the state
Department of Economic Development and the Connecticut Housing
Investment Fund, and $916,125 in state funds from the Capital
City Economic Development Authority and the city.
"The most difficult part of a project like this from a
development perspective is ... putting together the financing," Reveruzzi
said. "Even though the organizations, including the city,
are very supportive, it's a long process."
Belden Development will get
a fee of about $286,000 to be split among its five partners
for what will likely be more than two years of work. "And if there's any shortfall at all, that
comes out of the development fee," Reveruzzi said. If the
properties sell at a higher value than now expected, the extra
money would go not to the developers, but to reduce the "gap," he
Mayor Eddie A. Perez has an affinity for both the project and
the street - it was one of the first on which he organized tenants
back in 1978.
"This is going to balance the street because most of the
street is rental, and it's going to have ownership," he
"These guys have done it," Perez said of the developers'
work at Mortson-Putnam Heights. "This is a team that's worked
before. This is about making sure we end up with a quality product."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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