The North End’s SHU Box

Monticello Gardens
Monticello Gardens, possible location for dorms. CT Post photo: Cathy Zuraw.

Sacred Heart University’s impact on the city is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing for its economic benefits. A curse, however, to North End homeowners dealing with runaway collegiate parties. The burgeoning university features a split campus, a majority of it in Fairfield, but also a meaningful presence across Park Avenue into Bridgeport that includes dormitories, classrooms and administrative offices. Now a Florida-based company is crafting a proposal to construct a 600-bed dormitory to accommodate university needs.
And therein raises a question: is isolating student housing better than a scattered approach among absentee landlords?

CT Post reporter Brian Lockhart examines the issue.

… McCarthy and three other North End council representatives–Michelle Lyons, AmyMarie Vizzo-Paniccia and Jeanette Herron–have serious concerns about ABS’ effort.

The latter three elected officials recently met with ABS representatives and their local zoning attorney, Chuck Willinger, and reviewed some designs.

“What they were saying is this will help with the North End,” said Lyons.

She does not believe it.

Herron agreed: “Is it pretty? Absolutely. It’s real pretty. Is it going to take students off our streets? I really don’t think so.”

Full story here.



  1. Here we are dealing with SHU and its students again. Here we are with our council people wringing their hands saying what are we going to do. To McCarthy and to some extent the writer of this article the merchants would get their business even if the students lived on campus.
    As far as the deal being made with the builder and SHU to make this a dorm for SHU students you can bet your ass it would end up being tax free.
    All of the council people are full of it including the well intention-ed Michele Lyons. No one has made a valid attempt to get these students out of the one family dwellings. I would bet that every dwelling rented to students who have at least 4 students in them or at the very least has 3 unrelated people living in them thus making them 3 family dwellings .
    I have written here many times on how to do this but its fallen on deaf ears. I am a former Fire Marshal in the city of Bridgeport and well qualified in the NFPA life Safety statutes.
    The city needs to put together a task force of a Fire Marshal, housing code enforcement, city attorney’s office and start inspecting these dwellings that are illegally housing students.
    The city needs to send a letter to ALL insurance companies large and small telling them they may be insuring an illegal residence occpied by to many SHU students.
    Owners of these dwellings should be put on notice by the city and after proper warning should be arrested for continuing to illegally use property in the city of Bridgeport.
    Just so that our dumb ass hand wringing council people know Dwellings housing more than 3 unrelated people are considered rooming houses and thus should be covered by rules for rooming houses which include SPRINKLER SYSTEMS, CENTRAL STATION ALARM SYSTEMS and the list goes on.
    Now for the kicker if god forbid there is a fire and students die the city will be responsible from a liability stand point for allowing an illegal, dangerous condition to exists while taking no steps to correct the conditions.
    To the money hungry cold blooded assholes that own the dwellings you will be surprised when the insurance company refuse to pay for your loss. They will not pay because you in all probability did not tell them you were housing 3 or more kids in a one family dwelling.

    1. Andy, you’re correct. As a real estate professional I attest to all your points that involve real estate law. Tenants are required in the lease to obtain apartment liability insurance and the dwelling must be up to local code. The students are required to follow all local ordinances such as, and most importantly, the noise ordinance. I’ve had clients who rented to SHU students, and every condition is met before I would advise my client to sign a lease. Years ago when Jackie Cocco successfully blocked the funeral home from locating to where SHU is, it’s become a reality that we have to accept. The University has grown in size and reputation and the on-campus students will continue to seek residence off-campus. I also agree with Lisawhite that if the local representative work toward a solution to these challenges innocent homeowners must endure, it would be a win-win. Don’t waste everyone’s time worrying about increased housing for students, it’s not going away, work on what you can do to ease the stress on your constituents. Read Andy’s post carefully.

  2. I live in the North End. SHU students are renting houses all through the North End, including the street that I live on. I was legally parked in a parking space outside Target in the mall last fall, when I was hit by a SHU student who had the gall to break into tears and blame ME for the accident.
    Now SHU wants to build ANOTHER dormitory, taking more property off the tax rolls, forcing me to pay high taxes
    And frankly I’m disgusted with our City Council representatives who talk a good game – but can’t play that good game and stand up for THEIR constituents. What will it take for Michelle Lyons, Amy Marie Vizzo-Panniccia and Tom McCarthy stand up for their constituents?

    1. But they do stand up…… but only if your connected like your next north end council member- Michael DeFilippo. They will stand up for him by disrupting and allowing the upheaval of all the liquor laws in Bridgeport so that Michael can get what he wants for himself and the rest of the city be damned. Some council people have come out and protested this attempt but not the ones in the north end. They have been silent.

  3. Lisa the council people meet time after time with the president and other representatives from SHU he blows smoke up their collective skirts and the think SHU is going to cooperate. NOT
    I have a bridge for sale and maybe these 4 will buy it they believe what bullshit SHU puts out why not buy thay I have a bridge for sale.

    1. o 76 off-campus fires caused 107 deaths
      o 7 on-campus building or residence hall fires claimed 9
      o 6 fires in Greek housing took the lives of 10 people
      • From January 2000 – May 2015 smoke alarms were either missing or tampered with (disconnected or battery removed) in 58 percent of fatal campus fires.***
      • 94 percent of fatal campus fires occurred off- campus***
      *Source: NFPA’s “Structure Fires in Dormitories, Fraternities, Sororities and Barracks” report

  4. Who is ABS developers out of Florida? Who contacted them about this property and the need for dormitory space? My bet would be those lying bastards at SHU. Why wouldn’t they build at the former GE headquarters sight? Afraid of Fairfield zoning ? Its nice to see that a pillar in Bridgeport zoning named Chuck Willinger is representing ABS. Stand by for a good screwing. All you people in the North End remember Mayor (fuck the people ) Ganim come election time. Where has he been when it comes to protecting residents of Bridgeport?
    I see where the council people from this area have already met with the developer. I can tell you this they will vote to pass this. Oh they will tell you how hard the fought this and how hard the tried. Its all bull shit they have not DONE ONE THING TO CONTROL ACTIONS BY SHU, NOT ONE THING .How many rental units are by their homes?

  5. I’ll say it until someone I trust tells me to shut up. Most, not all, of the Council representatives feel so important when they’re brought in by the Administration or developers to (they think) be part of decisions. Fools they are: the decisions are already in the pipeline, the only ones who don’t know that they are the very important Council members. Get out there and talk to your constituents, see what you can do to enforce the Ordinances and City codes that may be in violation by renters. That’s your job, you all know very little about what you’re sticking your collective noses into.

    1. I for one will never ask you to be quiet.
      Last July 4th, there was a “professional” type fireworks display at the North End Little League field behind Blackham school. I sent an email to Michelle Lyons asking if any permits had been issued for that fireworks display. I am _STILL_ waiting for a response. Michelle doesn’t care.
      if I could only write in Minnie Mouse or Daisy Duck for the 134th City Council seat without having my whole ballot thrown out….

    2. Lisa – of course the fix is in. the powers that be – and the City Council members who are beholden to those powers – – are okay with destroying the North End.

      1. Lisa don’t give up, I’ve suggested that to you some time ago concerning another issue. This blog is read by many, it’s unfortunate that some readers find it intimidating to contribute input and call the culprits by name. I understand City employees Civil Service employees and especially patronage appointees. If they’re not cautious there would be retaliation. I want you to know you can always reach out to me for any reason. I’m discrete and fear no one. After four decades involved in local politics, the few that are left know I’m right, and the recent ones don’t know what the heck they’re doing. Andy’s a better political historian than me, so read his blogs that are relevant to your interests.

  6. In the CT Post article, one of the council members ‘noted’ there is a recently approved ordinance regarding “large non-permitted gatherings affecting the quality of life”.

    I did a query. No record of such an ordinance.

    In the previous city council session, there were resolutions regarding off-campus student housing and the establishment of a landlord checklist for student permit and student housing renewal packet.

    There is no record of action and it apparently died in committee.
    Perhaps our council members were too busy attending NLC Junkets or, maybe, they are just incompetent.

    McCarthy’s heir-apparent on the city council has purchased several north end houses in recent years and, according to a recent CT Post letter-to-the-editor, he has a rental business for SHU students.

    Sacred Heart University is not a friend of Bridgeport. The wild parties issue is minor compared to the damage done to neighborhood stability by the rental market fostered by SHU.

    Can this group of council members organize opposition to this ‘development’? Thanks to their naivete in dealing with SHU in recent years, there are few Bridgeport homeowners adjacent to the property. Many of the houses are now owned by absentee landlords and part of the SHU student rental market. Perhaps Fairfield residents across Park Avenue and their elected officials and attorneys will object to the ‘development’.

  7. Why not build the dorm in Fairfield?

    All another dorm is going to do is drag down property values that much further. The property owners in the area just get a bigger tax bill and have to live with the chaos some of these students cause.

    Rather build in the North end why not remediate an old factory or school? I am sure any neighborhood that has one of these vacant buildings would welcome a fresh new building. The building could include many up grades students could use.

    Just my two.

  8. I used to live at Monticello Gardens. It is owned by a woman whose family had their home there. They are going to have to offer beaucoup bucks to get her to sell.

  9. Andy hit a bulls-eye with his comments and suggested tactics for addressing the illegal housing problem with SHU…

    The huge tax bill on the Bridgeport public for the stress on our public safety/first responder services, as well as public works services and infrastructure is a whole separate matter…

    Since SHU doesn’t count itself an official, Bridgeport-based, institutional resident, the school should be fully taxed for their property in Bridgeport as well as being charged a surtax on all SHU students residing in Bridgeport per their liability to the city as a public-safety threat/nuisance…

    Required state statute permitting these measures should be a priority for our GA delegation…

    And no further SHU housing should be permitted in Bridgeport…

    Not dealing with the SHU problem by the city has been a major contributing factor in Bridgeport’s overall decline during the past two decades. It should be a big issue for all state and local candidates representing Bridgeport… It should also be a big issue for issue for Bridgeport Catholics since the school was spawned by the Diocese of Bridgeport, and the Board of Trustees was, until only recently, chaired by the Bishop… (Bishop Lori wanted to avoid the continual bad press and so had the official role of the Diocese with the school officially de-linked… Note the word official: The Diocese still likes to use the school for bragging rights, recruitment, and for patronage job placements for big-donor families, et al…)

    The failure of the City to deal with SHU speaks of a dying place that can no longer defend itself…

  10. I am sympathetic to the issues faced by homeowners in the north end RE SHU students. I am also glad the students stay up there and do not venture into Black Rock except to patronize the liquor stores.

  11. Kid, from my knowledge as a RE agent, they (SHU students), are renting all over the City. There’s a greater amount in the North End because of proximity to the University, and the willingness by residential owners to deliberately create housing for the students, for their profit.

    1. There are a few over here, yes. Most of them drive to Black Rock to patronize the liquor stores. FU and SHU students don’t go slumming in Black Rock.


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