In 2013, Kenneth Boroson Architects was selected by Rippowam Cooperation, the development arm of Charter Oak Communities (Housing Authority of the City of Stamford), to transform an obsolete and deteriorated rental apartment complex into a newly developed, self-sustaining, mixed-income community. Expected to be completed in the summer of 2018, Park 215 will be a new, mixed- use building comprised of 78 units and approximately 23,000 square feet of commercial space.
Park 215 is the fourth phase of the $135 million Vidal Court revitalization, a comprehensive, multi-phase plan to replace a 216- unit rental apartment complex developed in 1955 under the State Moderate Rental Program. This housing redevelopment is a major objective in a larger city- wide initiative aimed at transforming Stamford’s West Side neighborhood into a thriving community focused on healthy living. Now called the Vita Health & Wellness District, this health revitalization effort will be anchored by the prominent new construction of Park 215 sitting on the corner of Stillwater and Merrell Avenue.
Located at the doorstep of the recently expanded Stamford Hospital, Park 215 will provide a convenient residential location for employees. Additionally, there will be community and property management space to the lower level of the building and commercial medical space for various physicians’ offices at the first floor. In accordance with the Vita vision, the proximity of Park 215 to the hospital will provide the opportunity for health services to permeate through the neighborhood and result in an increase in medical accessibility for residents.
Environmental sustainability is another pillar at the forefront of the neighborhood transformation initiative. The new development is designed to current Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA) requirements and will be Energy Star certified.
Except for the 11-story hospital, Park 215 is the tallest building in the neighborhood at six stories. The new development is equally as extensive in width, stretching a lengthy 350 feet down the block. To help blend the large development into urban context of the neighborhood, the team at Kenneth Boroson Architects employed multiple design strategies to visually minimize the scale of the building. For example, the inclusion of a heavy cornice set at the fourth-floor to help create the illusion a shorter building. Additionally, the side of the building along Stillwater Avenue slightly angles to mirror the street. This design decision delays a pedestrian from seeing the full length of the building, giving the impression of a smaller structure. The main corridor plays off the same angle, giving a similar illusion to residents and diminishes the feeling of a long ominous hallway.
The use of various colors and materials help to enliven the lengthy building elevation along Stillwater Avenue. The façade of the building is sectioned into “townhouse” like divisions which are differentiated by projecting planes, alternating colors, and a mixture of materials. The first floor of the building features a precast veneer, resembling limestone, and includes store fronts with metal awnings for an urban aesthetic. While the upper floors are constructed of a combination of colored EIFS and brick anchoring the corners of the L shaped building. A variety of window types were also included in the design to provide further visual variation of the façade. Additionally, architectural ornament is featured at the prominent street corners to enhance the strong corner the building as well as signify a larger contextual entrance into the Vita Health & Wellness District.
The opportune sloping topography at 215 Park 215 allowed for the construction of a concealed two level parking structure. The upper level is accessible to the commercial patrons from Stillwater Avenue and the lower level is accessible to the residents from Merrell Avenue. The ability to provide two levels of parking permitted for a higher residential and commercial density for the building, which is determined by the number of parking space required per each of the use groups.
In addition to covered parking, other amenities for residents include courtyard and roof deck access for outdoor recreation and community and fitness spaces inside the building. Within the 78 dwellings, a mix of one and two-bedroom units are available. To accommodate different residents, the two bedrooms were designed in two variations. The first in a “family” style featuring bedrooms next to one another. The other in a “roommate” configuration where the bedrooms are separated by the mutual living areas. Within the complex, approximately 60% of the apartments will be subsidized and 40% will be market rate.
The creation of Park 215 is intended to be a magnet for development within the Vita Health & Wellness District. The variety of materials, flare of attractive color, and considerate design elevate the development above the standard market rate complex. Its convenient location coupled with its accommodations will make it a locus of activity for the surrounding community, undoubtedly strengthening the intersection of Merrell and Stillwater Avenues, as well as the neighborhood as a whole.