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The Rev. Curtis M. Cofield II Estates: A Fully Electric Affordable Housing Project in New Haven

Updated: Jun 7

In a groundbreaking initiative for sustainable urban development, LaRosa Groups is at the forefront of building The Rev. Curtis M. Cofield II Estates, our first fully electric affordable housing project nestled in New Haven’s West River neighborhood. Set on a formerly vacant strip of land, this ambitious project stands out for its commitment to affordable housing and innovative approach to environmental sustainability.

Designed to meet rigorous Zero Energy Ready Home and Passive House standards, The Rev. Curtis M. Cofield II Estates is eco-friendly living with its all-electric design that ensures up to 90% energy savings and significantly enhanced air quality.

Join us as we delve into the unique aspects of this fully electric, affordable housing project that promises a healthier, more sustainable future for its residents.

Fully Electric Affordable Housing Project

“The construction of affordable housing is our area of expertise. Incorporating Passive House Design standards into our projects has become a hallmark of LaRosa construction. But The Rev. Curtis M. Cofield II Estates was our first fully electric building,” explained James LaRosa, CEO of LaRosa Groups.

The Rev. Curtis M. Cofield II Estates is an affordable housing development under construction in New Haven. Once a long-vacant strip of Route 34 land in Elm City’s West River neighborhood, this project is designed to be a mix of 56 one-, two- and three-bedroom rental apartments spread across 11 townhouse-style buildings on a 4.3-acre site. The property will also include 62 on-site surface parking spaces with four electrical vehicle charging ports, 580 square feet of commercial space for a minority-owned local business coffee shop/bakery, a 2,700 square foot community center, a playground, and an outdoor gazebo.

Forty-four apartments will be rented to residents making up to 60 percent of the area median income (AMI), or around $55,000 for a family of two, and the remaining 12 apartments at 100 percent AMI, or around $90,000 for a family of two. Of the 44 apartments designated for low-income households, 14 are reserved for supportive housing in partnership with Columbus House, the local social service agency. In addition, Operation Pathways will provide a resident services coordinator to serve all residents of the property and provide resident services for the project as well.

The Rev. Curtis M. Cofield II Estates is transformative to New Haven, providing essential affordable housing to the West River neighborhood as a direct solution to the housing crisis in Connecticut. However, affordable housing projects with services and amenities is not unique.

What is unique is the focus on sustainability.

The Rev. Curtis M. Cofield II Estates is not just about affordable housing; it's about a healthier, more sustainable future. With all 11 buildings built to Zero Energy Ready Home and Passive House Design standards, the project is expected to achieve between 50% to 90% energy savings, plus solar paneling. This 100% electric affordable housing project with no gas connections will significantly improve indoor and outdoor air quality by eliminating gas appliances and reducing indoor pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide.

All-electric buildings have many additional benefits.

In addition to promoting a healthier living space, the energy costs for the tenant are lower as electric heat pumps are more efficient than gas ones. It’s also more sustainable by eliminating Greenhouse Gases (GHGs), such as CO2, that trap heat during the day and promote climate change.

A construction project is not without challenges.

There were the usual challenges of skyrocketing costs and implementing passive house standards.

According to Preconstruction Manager, Kyma Ganzer, one of the biggest challenges was the timing of the financial closing for the project. “The site had been vacant for more than 50 years and was contaminated. The remediation process, which was not within our scope, took longer than expected and caused a ripple effect on the projected closing date. The delay was not quantified, so maintaining pricing and sub-communication for availability to start construction was a major feat.”

Surprisingly, the uniqueness of the all-electric aspect of the affordable housing project simplified the construction process.

“Compared to traditional projects, coordinating an all-electric building was easier. Not having to coordinate gas lines is always a plus,” explained Peter Bourque, Project Manager of LaRosa Groups. “And the closing date gave us extra lead time to order the often-delayed electrical gear we will need to complete the project on time.”

We would be remiss if we did not share some of the history of the incredible man to whom the project is dedicated.

The History of Reverend Dr. Curtis Cofield II

According to the Public Art Archive, "The Reverend Dr. Curtis Cofield II was considered the "dean" of Connecticut's black Baptists and a champion of New Haven's homeless and people with AIDS.” He served as the leader of Immanuel Baptist Church, considered the oldest black Baptist church, for 32 years until his retirement. He also served as interim pastor at black Baptist churches that spun off from Immanuel Baptist in other cities in Connecticut, including Hamden, Milford, and New Haven. He often returned to the pulpit to preside over the funerals of older members.

Together with his wife Elsie, The Reverend ran a soup kitchen, a church-run homeless shelter, and the AIDS Interfaith Network. They took on the challenge of serving people with AIDS long before it became a popular cause in either the black community or the broader community.

“It is an honor to have been chosen to work on this affordable housing project dedicated to the efforts of the late Reverend Curtis Cofield II,” explained LaRosa. “Through his name, we can bring this shared vision between private and public entities and proceed with the Route 34 Revitalization Plan to bring affordable housing combined with services to improve resident’s quality of life.”

The development is a collaboration between the West River Self Help Investment Plan, an investment group based on the doctrine of the late Reverend Dr. Leon H. Sullivan, pastor of the Zion Baptist Church in Philadelphia, and New York-based NHP Foundation (the owner), a national not-for-profit provider of quality affordable housing. The Connecticut Housing Authority contributed $8 million towards the project.

Other financing sources for the construction include:

  • Connecticut Department of Housing (DOH)

  • Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA)

  • Connecticut Office of Brownfield Remediation / Department of Economic & Community Development (Applicant received support for this project from the Community Investment Fund 2030 of the State of Connecticut.)

  • United States Department of Housing and Urban Development

  • The City of New Haven

  • Elm City Communities / New Haven Housing Authority

  • The Glendower Group

  • Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)

  • Citizens Bank

  • Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston (FHLBB)

  • Eversource

The project is expected to be completed in phases, with the first phase rolling out in early autumn and the last in the spring.

The LaRosa team are experts in the construction of affordable housing and a leader in implementing passive house standards.

Let us help you with your next project. Schedule your free consultation today.

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