City lawmakers Monday night considered two agreements — one that paved the way for a Newhallville transformation years ago, and another that will transform three housing projects in years to come.
The two agreements were on the agenda at Monday night’s meeting of the Board of Alders.
In the first matter, alders voted to dissolve an obsolete agreement that helped create Science Park, the high-tech business area developed in the southern end of Newhallville.
In the second matter, alders officially accepted three requests to amend agreements pertaining to the housing authority’s redevelopment of the Ribicoff cottages in West Rock, Farnam Courts in Wooster Square, and the development of a new project on Chatham Street. Alders didn’t vote on these requests. They’ll be heard in committee before a vote.
A Done Deal
Before Monday’s meeting, David Silverstone, head of the Science Park Development Corporation (SPDC), explained why he wanted the city to dissolve a cooperative agreement relating to Science Park.
In the late ‘90s, he said, in one of the “iterations” of Science Park development, an agreement was formed between Yale, the city, Olin Corporation, and the not-for-profit SPDC. All the parties “put some dough into the park” to help it grow, Silverstone said. The city put in about $600,000.
SPDC formed the park in the early 1980s, seeking to transform a mini-city’s worth of former rifle-factory buildings abandoned by the Olin-WInchester corporation into homes for tech-oriented companies, some of them hatched by Yale researchers. It was the first seed of what would become New Haven’s 21st century “eds and meds” economy. A host of companies eventually began filling the buildings, and Higher One built a mini-Google-like headquarters there. Now a developer hopes to bring housing as well to the complex, which straddles the divide between the Dixwell and Newhallville neighborhood on Winchester Avenue.
The agreement stated that any excess cash flow would be disbursed to the parties annually between 2000 and 2011. During that time, the city saw about a 200 percent return on its investment, ending up with around $1.3 million.
The payments stopped coming in 2011, according to the deal. But while the deal had scheduled a date for the termination of payments, it hadn’t included any plans for the termination of the agreement.
Now, as Silverstone is working on refinancing mortgages with the state, he found the deal still on the property title and realized it might complicate negotiations. Thus, the city is now terminating the defunct agreement.
Silverstone said Science Park is trying to reduce its mortgage payments to the state because “we got blitzed in the recession.”
Dwight Alder Frank Douglass introduced the proposal to dissolve the agreement as a “housekeeping item.” Alders voted unanimously to approve it.
After Monday’s meeting, Jimmy Miller, deputy chief of the housing authority, explained why he wants the city to amend three development agreements.
In the last several years, the city teamed up with the housing authority, Glendower Group Inc., and Trinity New Haven LLC to redevelop Farnam Courts and Ribicoff Cottages and develop a project on Chatham Street.
The housing authority initially needed Trinity’s expertise to secure some tax credits. It has now secured those credits and is moving forward to develop the properties on its own, with Glendower—a the development subsidiary the housing authority formed itself.
“We don’t need any outside developer,” Miller said. Over the past six years, the authority has developed the expertise it needs to be its own developer, he said.
In projects that the authority has developed with Trinity, that company has taken a cut of the fees, Miller said. With the authority doing projects on its own, “we now will get 100 percent of those fees,” he said. “It will enable us to put that money back into future development.”
Miller said the housing authority has been doing it own development — in full or in part — since 2008. Housing authorities in larger cities do this, he said. But the New Haven housing authority is the only one in the country developing properties on its own in such a small city, he claimed.