History Bests Bungalows
by Paul Bass | Mar 11, 2013 12:00 pm
Posted to: Housing, Wooster Square
The city has changed its mind for now about selling a downtown parking lot, while it has chosen an historic vision over a futuristic vision in selecting a builder to fill three Wooster Square lots with new two-family homes.
That’s the latest news about two separate plans to unload surplus city property and perhaps fill a looming budget deficit this year. (It turns out the deficit may not materialize anyway.)
10 Wall On Hold
The big-ticket budget-filler was supposed to come from the sale of 10 Wall St., a surface lot (pictured) with a small building that used to house the police force’s narcotics unit. The city appraised the property for $2.1 million. It put the property up for sale a couple of months ago with the hope that someone might plunk down some real cash and then build a tax-generating housing and/or office complex.
Three bids came in, according to city development chief Kelly Murphy. The highest, $1.3 million, came from the parking authority, which current operates the lot there. The city not only hoped for more money for the lot; it didn’t envision such prime downtown land for surface parking over the long term.
A developer called Post Road Residential offered $375,000 to buy the land and put housing there, Murphy said. And a Hamden consultant company called Diversified Technology Consultants bid $419,000, with a plan to move its headquarters into a larger office building co-developed with a partner.
In the end, the city decided it could get more money for the land, Murphy said. (The whole process took place quickly to see if it could generate a higher price.) And she said officials have decide to complete an environmental clean-up there and seek a zoning change before marketing the property again.
It probably makes more sense to negotiate with developers first about what kind of project there city wants there rather than begin with a “distress sale” next time, Mayor John DeStefano added.
Wooster Square Ready To Go
The city also put four underused parking lots up for sale in the Wooster Square neighborhood. After a citizen review process, it has a developer chosen for three of the lots: retired New Haven police Capt. Andrew Consiglio, who used to patrol the neighborhood back in the day before launching a second career as a builder.
The Board of Aldermen will receive a proposal this week to sell the lots at 9 Brown St., 176 Chestnut St., and 109 Olive St. (pictured) to Consiglio’s company for a total of about $110,000, according to Frank D’Amore of the Livable City Initiative (LCI), City Hall’s neighborhood anti-blight agency.
The plan is to build a two-family home on each lot that fit with both the scale and historical residential feel of the neighborhood.
The architect, Peter J. MacPartland, said Friday that he hasn’t produced final drawings. He expects each house to be set back to the street, with two stories, brick facades, and gable roofs. First-story front porches will probably have “hip” roofs, he said. (That’s “hip” as in slanted slightly in both directions, not in terms of some of the people who like to live in Wooster Square these days.)
The project represents a coming home of sorts for MacPartland: His grandfather Pietro Scola moved to Brown Street when he emigrated here from Italy a century ago, he said. Pietro and his wife Madeline ran a candy store on Chestnut Street.
In choosing Consiglio, the city bypassed a proposal by architect Robert Orr to construct bungalows (pictured) and other next-wave housing geared to “millennials.” Click here to read a story detailing those ideas.
The city had put a fourth lot up for sale, too, on Chapel Street. D’Amore said the city changed its mind because the neighborhood may need the parking there after all in the short term.
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Why is it that there are plenty of illustrations from the guy who WASN’T chosen and NOTHING from the guy who WAS chosen. Doesn’t our city EVER use aesthetics as part of their judgement process?
Not turning the Wall Street parking lot into another parking lot or cheap office strip mall is a very good idea. Active uses and a certain level of density should be required for whatever is built on this lot - otherwise, it is destructive to the tax revenue, development potential, and safety of surrounding areas for decades.
As far as the other lots, what’s to keep the new owner from simply “landbanking” them, or doing something shoddy like the wildly destructive, window-less Avantus Renal Therapy building at the corner of Water & Olive?
How is it the person with an good, innovative idea was not chosen, while someone about whom we know very little (from this article) other than that he seems to have connections to the area was chosen?
What were the criteria for the decision? Who decided?
Orr is an actual architect, with a long resume and plenty of professional qualifications. Consiglio is a developer who has roots in Wooster Square. Orr, however, has an actual presence and major investment in the neighborhood (his office is on Chapel Street between State and Orange IIRC). What assurance does the city have that the houses Consiglio puts up will be well designed and well built? This article raises a lot of questions, to put it mildly.
Is this the same Consiglio Enterprises that had the assessment of every property they own in New Haven reduced “informally” by the Mayor’s staff last year outside of the BAA process?
Is this likewise being done to serve the Mayor’s private political agenda - or is it really the best proposal for the city? If I was Robert Orr I’d be furious.
Robert Orr proposals have been rejected by the city for 40 years. You would think he would learn.
If Orr bid $200,000 and Consiglio bid $110,000, why would the city forego $90,000, particularly if there are doubts about the quality of Consiglio’s design? Is this a patronage gift?
posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on March 12, 2013 4:52pm
Perhaps the city was apprehensive about the demand for shared-space bungalows, but the city would get the money either way - that would really be an issue for the developer, not the city.
Perhaps it has to do with The Bourse holding the Route 34 East/Downtown Crossing Design Charrette in the Summer of 2011, which was in response to the city’s ineffective, arbitrary and charade-like “public meetings”.
As for Orr’s proposal - bungalows seems like more of a suburban or rural building typology to achieve density, though if the units per acre were comparable to the current proposal from what’s-his-face (google searches only produce a NY Times article about a 1980s homicide?), then I don’t see why the city would leave $90,000 on the table for any reason other than corruption.