Darien will hold a rare affordable housing lottery. Here's what you need to know.

Alexander Soule /Hearst Connecticut Media

DARIEN — A new mixed-use development in Darien plans to add at least 16 new residential units to the town’s housing stock this year — and a rare affordable housing lottery system will determine who could get one.

The Darien Commons are one of Darien’s major incoming projects, managed by the development company Federal Realty Investment Trust.

Around 15 tenants have also signed leases for 58 available apartments in the project’s first completed building at 102 Heights Road. They are set to move in at the end of July, development director Sarah Forde told the Planning and Zoning commission in a May meeting.

Eight of those units are slated as affordable. Another eight affordable units will be included in the second residential building on Heights Road, which has yet to begin residential leasing.

In total, the project aims to deliver more than 120 new units — both one- and two-bedroom — to Darien. Rental will be by lottery.

The company intends on two rounds of advertising to alert people before the actual lottery, which will be held virtually, Forde told commissioners.

Interested applicants will get their name on a list that the company will use to filter hopeful renters into one of two lotteries, depending on whether they are seeking a one-bedroom or two-bedroom apartment.

Those chosen first will select their unit and go through a qualification process. Once they qualify, the apartment is theirs.

The company is anticipating a high demand, Forde said.

“I don't think we're going to have trouble filling the 16 units,” Forde said, adding that once all the units are taken, the lottery system will establish the order of a waiting list for vacancies that arise in the future.

Ali Ramsteck, the director of the town’s Human Services department, said demand has always been high for affordable units.

But with rents skyrocketing amid national price inflation and a tight housing market, Ramsteck said the clamor for lower-priced housing has risen as well.

“We get calls definitely every week about people looking for affordable housing,” Ramsteck said, adding that it’s not always out-of-towners looking to move into Darien. “Sometimes it’s people already living in town, maybe their lease is up and they need to find someplace else to live.”

The last affordable housing lottery was held in 2020 for residents interested in The Royle, a senior affordable housing complex. Before that, the last lottery was nearly 20 years ago, commission chair Steve Olvany said.

In addition to housing, the project will include ground-floor retail with a mix of new storefronts that have either already opened or plan on doing so soon. Walgreens and Equinox are among the retail spots already serving Darien.

The Darien Commons will be the largest retail plaza in years to be built adjacent to a station on the New Haven Line or any of its branches, officials said.

Includes prior reporting by Alexander Soule.