NEW MILFORD -- Investor/developer Hal Fischel is a happy man.

The New Milford Zoning Commission on Tuesday approved his plan for a 99-unit apartment complex, to be built on his 143 West St. property next to his commercial building, The Bleachery.

The application was made under the business name Trust Realty.

"Now we're searching for financing, and perhaps a co-developer," Fischel said Wednesday.

A construction start for the complex "all depends on how the financing comes through," he said.

The Zoning Commission's approval was the first for mixed commercial/residential use of a property in the Housatonic Riverfront Zone.

The zone was approved in summer 2009 to encourage redevelopment and reuse of properties located on the east bank of the Housatonic River. Town officials' goal is to promote economic development and the revitalization of the downtown.

One impediment to approval of the apartment complex was that the property sits in a 100-year flood zone.

Federal Emergency Management Agency regulations were reviewed and emergency officials' recommendations were considered "carefully" in approving the application, said Zoning Commission Chairman Bill Taylor.

An emergency egress route agreement between Trust Realty and the Housatonic Railroad is in place for travel over the railroad tracks to the rear of the West Street property, Fischel confirmed.

A 50-foot square platform at a 216-foot elevation level must be constructed on the rear of the complex building to serve as emergency egress for residents, should a boat rescue be necessary, zoning documents read.

"We gave this application close consideration," Taylor said. "We looked carefully at the flooding issue. We went back to the FEMA act to make sure we complied.

"I think it will work out well," he added. "We gave them the opportunity to succeed."

Fischel said the complex would include a fitness center and a boat club. The site approval includes 100 boat slips along the Housatonic River.

"Our aim is to market the complex as apartments first," he said. "When the economy turns around, the possibility of converting the units to condos will exist."

Projections for apartment rental are $1,500 a month for one-bedroom and $2,000 a month for two-bedroom apartments. Most units will have balconies facing the river, Fischel said.