MLK Apartments is a 64-unit apartment community located on a seven-acre parcel on Van Block Avenue in Sheldon/Charter Oak, Hartford’s oldest neighborhood. The complex was built in 1968 as affordable housing for families displaced by urban renewal. Its architecture and design reflect the style of public housing developments at that time. Sheldon Oak Central acquired and rehabilitated MLK Apartments in the 1990s. Nearly thirty years later, the buildings are seriously outdated and over time have required increasing investment to keep them to a reasonable standard.
Today, MLK Apartments is part of a largely revitalized neighborhood, including the apartments and homes at Dutch Point, SOC’s Stonington Acres, the historic preservation and re-use of the Colt and Capewell factory buildings, and the opening of the new professional soccer stadium, Dillon Stadium. SOC’s redevelopment of MLK is the final piece of the thirty-year transformation. We are planning to transform it into a 161-unit, mixed-income, walkable and walk-to-work community. The new design will offer spacious, attractive townhouses and apartment homes to renters of a mix of incomes, while ensuring no displacement of current residents.
The transformed community will include 70 one-bedroom units, 75 two-bedroom units, and 16 three-bedroom units. Ninety of the 161 units will be market rate, non-income restricted units. Of the remaining 71 units, 40 will be affordable to residents who earn at or below 30% of the area median income, and the remainder will be affordable to residents at or below 80% of the area median income.
The building heights and exteriors of the re-envisioned MLK Apartments will reflect the scale and design palate of the surrounding buildings and re-integrate the MLK complex into the historic neighborhood. The new MLK Apartments will adhere to current energy efficiency standards, resulting in cost savings to both SOC and our residents. We are excited to be partnering with Vesta Corporation, Crosskey Architects, and Sav Enterprises on this redevelopment.
The design includes one large, L-shaped central building facing Van Block Avenue and Luis Ayala Lane, along with 14 smaller buildings of 6-7 units. The large building will include an elevator to serve the needs of our elderly and disabled residents. Amenities will include a fitness center, community room including a kitchenette and unisex restroom, on-site laundry (with many units including in-unit laundry), and bicycle storage room. The site plan includes a private road, off-street parking, and plenty of greenspace, including a gazebo and walking paths. The large outdoor mural mounted on one of the buildings, which was created in 2005 by neighborhood teenagers working with Hartford artist Chet Kempczynski, will be preserved.
Re-envisioning and redeveloping MLK Apartments is an opportunity to create a vibrant mixed-income development that will attract new residents and contribute to meeting the NRZ’s goal of sufficient density in the neighborhood to attract retail development. MLK will be an asset that will help support SOC’s continued financial stability and growth, while continuing to provide quality affordable housing in the Sheldon/Charter Oak neighborhood.
Architectural renderings of the new MLK Apartments: