BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — The Bridgeport Neighborhood Trust broke ground Thursday on Westgate, a 48-unit apartment complex that’s part of a mini-neighborhood the agency has dubbed “Downtown West.”
Located next to the Walgreen’s at the corner of State Street and West Avenue, the new 61,552-square-foot, five-story building will include two ground-floor commercial spaces and four floors of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments.
“We believe in this work,” said Kim Bianca Williams, vice chair of the Bridgeport Neighborhood Trust. “We believe in changing the community.”
New Neighborhoods Inc. is a partner on the project.
Renting for $415 to $1,600, each apartment at Westgate will have a fully applianced kitchen, living room, full bath, central air, off-street parking and access to an outdoor courtyard.
The development will cost about $13 million and is funded by a series of entities, including the City of Bridgeport, GreenBank, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and the Low Income Tax Credit Program.
The site will provide affordable housing and several apartments will be set aside for homeless veterans.
James Slaughter, a Navy veteran who was once homeless, spoke at Thursday’s groundbreaking. Originally from Tennessee, Slaughter was living in Homes for the Brave housing before he found an apartment with BNT’s Milestone Apartments in the East End.
Arriving with nothing but his clothing, Slaughter said he was given an apartment, furnishings, kitchen utensils and all the other supplies he needed to make a new life.
“This, I can say, is home,” he said.
Westgate will replace a vacant grassy area not far from the Bridgeport YMCA and near BNT’s flagship site, Gateway Apartments on State Street.
The downtown area just west of Route 8/25 has long been a forgotten corner of the city, abandoned by many businesses and known for squatters and blight, according to BNT.
BNT is actively cultivating the area, attempting to build a new neighborhood featuring homes and businesses that will cater to urban living.
In addition to Westgate and Gateway, BNT has created Winter’s Residence on Fairfield Avenue, West Liberty Commons, which is in development at West and West Liberty avenues, and 601-611 State Street, a planned 55-unit development nearby.
“Westgate Apartments will provide a mix of housing options for low- and moderate-income families and individuals who want to enjoy living in an urban setting with a mix of uses that allows one to live, work and play,” said BNT CEO Elizabeth Torres. “Downtown West is just that place.”
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