Who is going to get an apartment at The Royle at Darien?

That was the hot topic, and the one that took up most of the discussion at the Jan. 28 Darien Housing Authority meeting.

The Royle at Darien project involves demolition of a complex of six buildings and 30 apartments at 719 Boston Post Road to create a new stand-alone building with 55 units.

The senior affordable housing complex was originally the site of Royle Elementary School. The $20 million development was formerly called Old Town Hall Homes. It’s being financed through a combination of private and public funds.

Construction progress

Construction of the development is moving along nicely, according to JHM Financial Group owner and developer Todd McClutchy.

“Construction has progressed pretty well over the winter,” McClutchy said. “The building is entirely closed in at this point. It’s about a little over 60 percent complete and we expect occupancy this summer. We’re slating it for middle of July when everything should be buttoned up and residents will be able to move in.”

Waiting list

Phuong Murray, assistant director of rentals, said The Royle has 16 returning residents. Since there are 55 total units, there are 39 units left to fill.

The 28 people whose names are on the original waiting list for Old Town Hall Houses will be contacted to see if they’re still interested in leasing at The Royle.

In the last week of February, there will be a lottery. Those who are on the original waiting list will get two entries into the lottery. The rest, made up of those who are on the new waiting list, will get one entry.

Some people who were at the Housing Authority meeting voiced their disappointment with this policy.

“That’s not right,” one of them said.

Housing Authority Chairman Joe Warren responded, “I realize that’s not going to make everyone happy. We’re in a position here where we have to find some way of managing this, and no matter how we manage it, somebody’s going to be unhappy. We selected a methodology that we think gives the people that have been on the [original] waiting list an edge.”

Move in is planned for mid-July.

The Housing Authority will be accepting applications until they get to 200. Warren said that based upon the interest expressed so far in the new development, he believes it will take just one day to reach that number.

Managing the list

In regard to managing the waiting list going forward, Warren said the Housing Authority will consider several options and further discuss this topic at the next meeting.

One option he suggested is if a person’s name comes up to the top of the list, and if he or she is not ready to take occupancy, “we will leave that person on the list in that same position, once. The next time there’s an available vacancy, your name is still at the top of the list. If you say no twice, your name goes to the bottom of the list. If you say no three times, your name goes off the list.”

Other members of the Housing Authority had some other suggestions about how the waiting list could work.

Relocation

According to Warren, some former Old Town Hall Homes residents have reached the end of their lease on their current residence.

“When we started out relocating residents, we had always discussed with landlords that we were moving into a one-year lease with the ability to go month to month until the building was completed,” said Warren, adding, “We’ve got people on top of that.”

McClutchy said he’s monitoring this on a month-to-month basis to make sure landlords know that when summer comes, “we’ll give them notice that residents will be moving in in July.”

The Royle is not limited to Darien residents.

“We cannot restrict who gets to apply and we can’t give any preference,” Warren said. “The only preference you get is when you apply and where you fit on the list.”

For information on leasing at The Royle, visit theroyledarien.com. Preliminary applications will be available soon.

Watch the full Housing Authority meeting on Darien TV79.

sfox@darientimes.com