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Canaan Parish, a new multi-family, mixed-income apartment community in the affluent community of New Canaan, CT, is a model of what affordable housing can be. Too often, affordable housing is a tough sell. But a project done well proves good design can be successful even within tight budgets and brings added benefits of diversity, economic growth, and environmental sustainability to communities. 

The 100-unit, 130,000-square foot, $35 million project replaces an existing 60-unit complex. The existing housing was functionally obsolete, with both interiors and exteriors needing substantial upgrading. The two-story townhomes also were not appropriate for a demographic that included senior residents on fixed incomes.

Two L-shaped, four-story buildings frame a generous green space with outdoor amenities.

The new project, with 60 replacement units, as well as 40 additional apartments available to those earning 60- to 80 percent of the state median income, maximizes the site, with two L-shaped, four-story buildings framing a generous green space with outdoor amenities like a multi-purpose sports court, playground, community garden, and sledding hill. Openings in the façade frame views to a nearby lake and woodland.

Designers chose a contemporary design, as New Canaan has a long history of modern architecture.

Alcoves, texture, balconies, color, and fenestration details break up the larger masses of the four-story structures. Elegant overhangs and a stone base give the buildings a residential character. Designers chose a more contemporary design, as opposed to Connecticut’s traditional colonial vernacular, as New Canaan has a long history of modern architecture.

Units have large windows with commanding views, providing residents with more light than they previously had.

Inside, units have large windows with commanding views, providing residents with more light than they had in their original townhomes. Features include 9-foot ceilings, kitchen islands with Quartz countertops, laundry hookups, and private balconies. Distinct colors provide wayfinding floor-by-floor. Elevators enhance accessibility. An innovative decision to place mechanical system access in hallway closets rather than in individual apartments is a game-changer for this and future projects. Although the cost is slightly higher upfront, it saves money on maintenance and results in less tenant aggravation from maintenance visits. 

A generous green space includes a multi-purpose sports court, playground, community garden, and sledding hill.

Energy-saving features include photovoltaic roof panels, water-conservation fixtures, AHRI-certified ventilation systems, Energy Star-rated appliances, and energy-efficient low E with Argon windows. The project received the Silver Certified + Wellness Badge from the National Green Building Standard, as well as Energy Start v3.1 and Indoor airPlus certifications.

One key to the project’s success was that the site plan provided an opportunity to keep most residents in place while the new Phase 1 building was constructed. This minimized disruption for current tenants.

The project is completely full, a happy homecoming for all.

Project Team: Heritage Housing Inc., Steven Winter Associates Inc., PES New England, Wesley Stout Associates, Stantec Consulting Services, Ritz Henton Design, Robert Benson Photography

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We are looking to add Project Architects to our Hartford team. Check out our Careers page for more information and how to apply!

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