How It All Began
Farmington Woods is a condominium community rich in architectural heritage.
Beginning in the late 1960s, Otto Paparazzo, an award-winning landscape architect, in conjunction with Heritage Woods Corporation (HWC), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fidelity Mutual Insurance, envisioned plans for a large condominium community in Farmington and Avon, to be known as Farmington Woods.
Construction of a planned 1,410 homes began in 1969. Along with the condominium homes, the community would boast an 18-hole USGA golf course, clubhouse, swimming pools, tennis and paddle tennis courts. There would be an on-site maintenance, management and sales office.
The approximately 375 acres that comprise this community were largely acquired from three major contiguous land owners. From its inception, Farmington Woods would grow as an expandable condominium complex. When each phase or section was built, it would eventually be declared and merged into a Master Association.
Today, Farmington Woods is the largest condominium complex in the greater Hartford area. The newest and final units were completed in 2001 giving the community a total of 1,081 homes.
Building the Community
The reduction in the number of units built below the projected total is a result of a few factors. To start, throughout the construction of the community, different developer/construction entities handled certain phases. In all, five groups were involved, each offering different architectural styles and floor plan designs. The average unit size was also increased, allowing a smaller number to fit the original site plan.
Second, in the 1980s some of the land that was to be part of Farmington Woods was sold to the LaCava Group out of Wethersfield, CT, to become single family home lots.
Finally, changes in zoning regulations precluded developing wetlands near the Clubhouse. Since this building did not happen in the initial construction phase, the zoning regulations required additional wetland space, which is present today around the Muirfield homes.
Farmington Woods’ size, variety of home styles, services and amenities are a package that has not been duplicated in this area.
The Early Years
Paparazzo started his community plan with an on-site sales center next to the original model home cluster. Also known as the Boat House because of its water setting, it was the gateway to the original model homes. This building continued to be the sales center until 1990.
During the first nine years of development Paparazzo introduced 27 different floor plans and built a total of 652 units.
In 1977, HWC and its President, John Hyer, became its own general contractor and took over development and building of the next two phases. This group continued to build some of the existing model types, and offered 4 new styles. Overall, they added 78 homes to the community.
At this time HWC continued to retain ownership of all the remaining undeveloped land, the water company, Farmington Woods Realty and all amenities, including the golf course.
In 1978, state condominium statutory regulations allowed the resident owners of Farmington Woods to assume control of the Associations management operations.
This gave birth to what is known today as the Farmington Woods Master Association (FWMA). A Board of Governors was established by electing one member from each of the existing individual condominium phases (today known as districts) to serve on the new Board.
Bronson Conlin was elected the first President of this Board and Stretch Norton was the General Manager. It was decided early-on that Farmington Woods would be managed internally by hiring an on-site professional staff rather than utilizing an outside management company. Additionally, the Board set up the community budget under one umbrella to assure a greater degree of consistency in regard to maintenance.
The community then gained municipal status by becoming a separate tax district. This status gave the community two advantages: the ability to borrow money through municipal bond funding (the process by which the Association acquired the golf course in 1985 from HWC) and to make a portion of the fees tax-deductible (similar to real estate property taxes).
Because of the geography of the Woods spanning two towns, there were the North Farmington and South Avon tax districts. In accordance with state regulations, each district had to vote independently of each other whenever an issue requiring a vote came up for the community at large. This awkward arrangement was rectified in 1986 when a special act of the state legislature allowed the two districts to be merged into one.
Final Building Phases
In 1981, builder Nolan Kerschner, of Norwalk, CT, acquired the land from HWC to build the next three condominium phases. Over a seven year span his company added 240 additional units and 16 new floor plans.
Construction resumed in 1995 when The Gralia Group, out of East Longmeadow, MA, became the fourth builder to contribute to the nearly finished complex. Once again, eight new home styles were offered, and 97 units were built.
Finally, in 1998 the last phase to be built was acquired by Bill Ferrigno, of Sunlight Construction of Avon. His company constructed 17 stand-alone condominium homes with three model types that are the largest units in FW.
Upon completion of the complex, 1,081 individual homes were in existence, three of which are custom double units.