SOUTHINGTON — Hundreds of affordable housing units and a 55 and older community are options for the former Lincoln College property.
Dennis Terwilliger, one of the owners of the 32-acre campus on Mount Vernon Road, said despite efforts by his company and the town, the property has been vacant since Lincoln College moved out in late 2018.
Terwilliger said he has received proposals from local developer Mark Lovley as well as another company that he declined to name.
Lovley hopes to build luxury ranch houses for residents 55 and older on the former campus. The plan would replace most of the campus buildings with around 100 homes. One building would remain as a community center and workout area.
He said there’s strong demand for houses that allow older residents to downsize. A similar age-restricted development off South End Road sold 14 units in a few months.
“I have a waiting list for another development,” Lovley said.
The other developer would build “hundreds” of affordable housing units, Terwilliger said. Since Southington hasn’t met the state’s goal for affordable housing, it’s more difficult to deny an application.
Terwilliger said Lovley’s plan fit the neighborhood better and would have a shorter approval process.
“But we do have the other alternative we have to consider, it’s alive and well,” he said. “We don’t want to rule out any possibility for the property at this point.
‘It’s a difficult position for us all the way around. We’re paying considerable taxes. We have a mortgage, we have a guard service there, we have energy costs,” he added. “We need to have a solution.”
What to do with a college campus?
Briarwood Real Estate Limited, Terwilliger’s company, has tried to attract buyers through an auction and marketing.
The town also tried to market the property to other schools.
The property is zoned residential but other uses, such as drug rehabilitation, veterinary care and adult day care, are allowed with a special permit from the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission. Terwilliger submitted a plan to use the campus buildings for many of those uses. Neighbors’ opposition to drug rehabilitation caused him to withdraw that portion of the plan.
The campus doesn’t have access to the town’s sewer system so any housing would require septic systems.
Southington had zoning regulations that allowed greater density if a development was restricted to residents 55 and older and had access to public sewer, among other criteria. On Tuesday, the Planning and Zoning Commission accepted a change to those rules, suggested by Lovley, that would allow more units on properties of at least 30 acres and that didn’t have sewer access.
The new rules allow a builder to put around 100 homes on the college property. More could go in if the land had sewer access.
Commission members said there were few other prospects for the campus and that age-restricted housing might be the best option.
Terwilliger said the affordable housing plan was large enough that the developer would pay to connect the property to town sewers.
Lovley said he’s working with engineers to plan luxury ranches ranging from around 1,100 square feet to 1,600 square feet. He expects to price the smaller homes with two bedrooms at $319,000 and the larger ones with three bedrooms at $350,000.
Most of the homes would be standalone. A third would be duplexes.
Lovely said he’s planning circular roads, plantings and other measures to tie the buildings together.
“It’s almost like its own community,” he said.