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Check Out The Coliseum Now (Or In The Future)

by Allan Appel | May 14, 2013 1:23 pm

(22) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: Business/ Economic Development, Downtown, Ninth Square

The city went public Tuesday with phase one of a developer’s plan for the Coliseum lot: A strollable “town square” with five- or six-story apartment buildings; top-of-the-line wine shops and restaurants; and a “woonerf”—a special lane for pedestrians and cyclists, not drivers—that takes you to State Street.

Those were among the main features in the preliminary plans that Montreal-based LiveWorkLearnPlay (LWLP) unveiled at the regular meeting of the New Haven Development Commission at City Hall.

If all goes well—and that’s a big if—LWLP would in later phases build a world-class 160-room hotel at MLK Blvd. and Orange; in later phases, a corporate office tower and a residential tower along State Street.

City Development Administrator Kelly Murphy put the eventual cost in the “$250 million to $300 million range.”

“This is a mixed-use development centered around a town square. It’s not 360 State Street [all residential] or 100 College [all business],” said LWLP Vice-President Richard Martz in a presentation that drew enthusiastic support from commissioners.

“We’re very early on. We’re completely open to changes,” said LWLP’s founding partner, Max Reim.

“The first aim is to deliver a ‘town square’ with residence over retail,” said Martz. That would be the first phase, to be built at Orange and George.

The city named LWLP a preferred developer to pursue a plan on the graveyard of the former New Haven Coliseum (now a surface parking lot) at State, MLK, Orange, and George. The latter phases depend on the city receiving state backing to continue Orange Street past Route 34.

The developer is not seeking any government subsidies for the project as planned, officials said. The city wants to see affordable housing in the mix; that could raise the subsidy question later. The city would be on the hook for infrastructure (roads, utilities) costs.

Reim said his firm envisions buildings for the northwestern half of the site to rise no more than five or six stories high. Later phases will include the hotel at MLK and Orange, and then more residences in a “tower over podium” style—that is with the tower recessed over a lower-height-street level building, and an office tower ideally for a corporate tenant.

He guessed the towers would be 15 to 20 stories, but all dependent on needs of potential leasing tenants.

All told, the project would blend low and high-rise residencies with 524 new apartments, a four-star hotel, and “town square” to attract people as a destination for concerts, new idea incubation, or just hanging out.

There would be no back end or backyard to any of the buildings. To maximize flow through, all parking garages and Dumpsters are envisioned underground, said Reim.

Martz said New Haveners have to think of a new kind of development, so maybe a Dutch word would be useful: “woonerf,” essentially a street where “the pedestrian is dominant. We want cars to be the guest.”

The hotel’s gymnasium, pool, and other amenities would be open for community use in LWLP’s vision, Reim said.

Currently LWLP only has a memorandum of agreement with the city, recently renewed for one more year, through next spring. LWLP came into the picture after Northland Investment Corporation bailed out as preferred developer at the time of the economic downturn.

LWLP doesn’t own the land. It is working with Newman Architects to develop plans on their own nickel, said Kelly Murphy.

They seek to create a “destination” linking to the Green, train station, Wooster Square, and the Hill. The motto for the project is: “New Haven Starts at Orange Street.”

Much depends on the city’s negotiations with the state Department of Transportation to create a street crossing for Orange at MLK, said Martz and Reim.

You can’t bring a world-class hotel [and other businesses] without Orange Street crossing and connecting across Route 34, said Reim.

Murphy called the Orange Street connection “very important to how this development gets developed. ... We are all working hard on how to get the best intersection we can to reconnect this site to the train station and the Hill and vice versa” while tackling challenges with “grade, draining, traffic,” and cost. She said she hopes the city will have a development agreement and land disposition agreement ready for the Board of Aldermen later this year; the city and the developer are still in negotiations over details of the project.

Reim expressed concern that with a new mayor taking office next January, a new economic development team at City Hall might not share the current team’s enthusiasm for the project.

“We’re hoping before the end of the year to have a development agreement and an LDA [land distribution agreement] and to keep it going,” said Kelly Murphy, who was attending the Tuesday commission meeting.

The LWLP team is bringing its presentation to the Hill North Management Team Tuesday evening and to Hill South on Wednesday evening. Both meetings begin at 6 p.m. It plans another presentation next Tuesday night at the Downtown Wooster Square management team next Tuesday.

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posted by: Curious on May 14, 2013  1:28pm

This looks awesome.

posted by: anonymous on May 14, 2013  1:36pm

When will Governor Malloy realize that projects like this, not hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate welfare checks for suburban sprawl inducers like Jackson Labs or CIGNA, are this State’s only hope at an economic development strategy that will work in the long-term? 

The State should concentrate the overwhelming majority of its economic development resources into the area within a mile of the Stamford & New Haven train stations, so that Connecticut can begin to compete with surrounding states.

posted by: TheMadcap on May 14, 2013  1:47pm

To be fair, anything looks awesome compared to what it currently looks like there.

But on its own merits, it does look pretty good. Putting parking underground, borrowing the woonerf idea from the Dutch, creating reasonably dense apartment buildings but not having them be a some giant towering over everything like 360.

So this will be done when, around 2030 probably?

posted by: RootsWorld on May 14, 2013  1:59pm

It’s an interesting concept, but the big drawback, as I see it, is the “phases.” If they want to sell residents on living there, they are going to need to explain how it’s going to feel to live in a construction for 10 years of “additional phases.”

posted by: ctguy on May 14, 2013  2:10pm

I imagine this means the city has done something right to attract this type of development interest. Maybe that would be a better headline.

posted by: shadesofzero on May 14, 2013  3:06pm

If this turns out even half as awesome as it looks, it’ll still be pretty impressive.

Downtown really has suffered with the southern border of Rt. 34/Frontage Rd.  Without the ability to develop south or towards the train station, development has been really limited.

Gateway was a tremendous step in the right direction and will, with any luck, attract more development further south.  Moving more development towards the train station is an absolutely excellent way to move forward.

Sure, it won’t happen overnight (or this decade, probably), but it looks like a great step forward.

As long as it doesn’t turn out like the last development plan for the area (womp womp).

posted by: WiseOldOwl81 on May 14, 2013  5:09pm

If anyone out there would like to join our Facebook group about the New Haven Coliseum (to check out old photos, post stories etc) please visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/2231411431/

Thanks!

posted by: Threefifths on May 14, 2013  5:28pm

People wake up.Beware of what you ask for.

Overseas Investors Buy Aggressively in U.S. 

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/20/business/20invest.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

posted by: Bill Saunders on May 14, 2013  7:05pm

CTGUY,

I am interested in the tax breaks and other incentives, too!!!

posted by: Nhv.Org on May 14, 2013  8:52pm

First of all, I will never remember my nhindy.org username or password.  Secondly, there will not be a some kind of alternative town square.  The coliseum footprint represents an opportunity to route automotive traffic to downtown and convert it to light rail, according to the plan.  Since the 34 connector is terminating a block early (or going under the proposed building), it would be best to take all those cars, put them into a massive multi-level parking lot with a light rail transit station at the bottom, and allow people to take rail to their destination rather than driving and seeking out parking by circling city blocks endlessly.  Hello Pedro.

Secondly, Nhindy, stop trying to correct my spelling!  I’m not trying to spell “hindi” when i say nhindy.  it’s 11 letters shorter than newhavenindependent.org and you can try it too.  want a six-letter shortcut?  visit nhindy.org!  please make better videos.

posted by: Curious on May 15, 2013  9:29am

NHC.org, that is my dream for this city…some light rail that connects important areas in a smart way, with a small number of massive parking towers which people will leave their cars in all day/night.  Drive here, park on the outskirts, take the rail to your destination.  Free or reduced rail for the people paying to park in the towers.

posted by: anonymous on May 15, 2013  9:51am

Curious, that is a common scenario in many cities and it costs nothing to implement over a 10-20 year period.  All you have to do is charge more for and dynamically price parking, reduce the number of parking spaces system-wide by 5-10% each year, and use the proceeds and tax increments to provide improved transit from outer lots.

People are already spending vast sums of money and time getting around- all those resources can be used more efficiently if you have a mayor who has some vision and is willing to implement it, like other US and world cities. Unfortunately, New Haven and State government appear to be controlled by unions and politicians who have little interest in creating jobs, raising money, or providing transportation/parking for anyone other than for themselves.

posted by: LABORERS/455 on May 15, 2013  10:19am

Again, another prime example why Laborers 455 endorsed Henry Fernandez.
When he becomes Mayor, he and Laborers 455 will work together to make sure this Developer remembers;
“New Haven work is for New Haven Residents”
Laborers 455 is New Haven

posted by: bike rider on May 15, 2013  1:48pm

I cant help but wonder, will the
” a special lane for pedestrians and cyclists “
really happen when its all said and done? Or will it be like the 100 College St fiasco where they said all these great plans where in place for bikers and peds , but in the end they where not.
And or like Amtrak/Metro Norths new M-8 train cars that had lots of room for bikes on the trains, but in the end did not.
Developers like to “include” bikers and peds cause its catchy and looks Green , but in the end the State and the developers
could really careless.

posted by: Curious on May 15, 2013  2:09pm

LABORERS455, just what special and unique qualities does Henry possess that will allow him, and him alone, to guarantee jobs for New Haven residents?

Are you saying the union will refuse to do this work if another candidate ends up being the mayor?

posted by: OhHum on May 15, 2013  4:45pm

Where is Mayor Lee when you really need him. For those of you that don’t remember that fiasco you can just wait another 20 or so years and get the (New) New haven with it’s multiple high rises and stacked people. These places work very well for a short period of time and then cities end up imploding them. As much as we’d like to be like Holland we’re just not. Why do we need to add density to to a city that in my opinion is already becoming too dense. And I might add ugly.

posted by: TheMadcap on May 15, 2013  5:06pm

Perhaps if we want to be more like Holland, than we should actually implement building policies on par with the Dutch, that’s what as sane society would do. But then again we are America. Saying “These places work very well for a short period of time and then cities end up imploding them” is ludicrous, we have 60 years of urban planning and the results that followed to prove otherwise. The urban renewal designs followed by mayor Lee among others all around the country were a complete disaster, it’s basically an undisputed fact at this point. Ask city engineers what their main job is and you’ll constantly hear ‘Fixing the mess of urban renewal’.

posted by: Curious on May 15, 2013  5:53pm

What about the massive, Brutalist, concrete parking garages in New Haven?  Is there any chance those horrible things will ever be replaced?

posted by: Stephen Harris on May 15, 2013  9:12pm

All though I’m no fan of towers (I think they are alienating) the idea behind this is great. If this, or something close to this happens we would really be moving forward.

The creation of a public square is the anchor of what this development could be because it creates a focal point to draw people in. But the preliminary drawing didn’t seem to enclose the square in any way. Instead of streets intersecting at right angles, a simple off-set would create some sense of enclosure and make the space more welcoming and intimate.

Here’s a link to some photos of squares at intersections for an idea of what’s possible.

http://carfree.com/dpix/sqinter.html

posted by: Stephen Harris on May 15, 2013  9:17pm

Nhv.org

Auto correct is the bane of the internet age!

posted by: Stephen Harris on May 15, 2013  9:24pm

For a glimpse of what’s possible (because it was once reality) go to this website and poke around a bit.

http://www.carfree.com

posted by: LABORERS/455 on May 16, 2013  4:28pm

Curious:
The UNIONS are the ONLY organizations that promotes, affiliates, support , and gives Free Training to New Haven Residents.  Then makes sure the contractors employ them.  Please research, Know the Facts. 
With the Unions backing New Haven Residents WORK.  When Construction projects are done Non-Union the New Haven Resident sits Home. PERIOD.
But, lets do it YOUR WAY and let these Contractors and Developers come in build there projects with Out of State Workers, while the New Haven Residents Starve.
You can then answer to your neighbors when their out of work.

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