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New Apartments, Secret Society Headed To Chapel Street

by Thomas MacMillan | Jun 13, 2014 8:32 am

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

Posted to: Business/ Economic Development, Housing, Dwight

Thomas MacMIllan Photo With a 19th-century house floating above ground to their right, city officials lifted shovels of dirt to salute the 21st century building underway below ground to their left.

That was the scene Thursday afternoon at a press conference at the corner of Chapel and Howe streets, where the mayor joined with city lawmakers, local officials, and developer Randy Salvatore to celebrate the construction of a new mixed-use apartment building (rendering pictured below).

Construction has already commenced at the site. Workers are setting the foundation for the five-story building, which will have 132 market-rate rental apartments and 4,326 square feet of retail space on the first floor.

Just yards away, a historic home has been jacked up and rests on piers, awaiting a 50-foot move. The 1890s house is being preserved and shifted just a small distance west on Chapel Street, to make way for the apartment building. The house will be the new home of the Lincoln Society, one of Yale’s “secret” senior clubs.

The historic preservation is part of a development plan coming to fruition two years after developer Salvatore decided to purchase the lot for what he thought would be a simple construction investment.

Salvatore said his brother first showed him the opportunity. He considered the market: a city with the nation’s lowest vacancy rate, a one-acre lot on the edge of Yale University.

“I quickly and casually decided to move forward,” Salvatore said. It soon became clear that it would be anything but “quick and casual,” Salvatore said. In the two following years, Salvatore attended “countless meetings” to discuss things like parking, and the fate of the historic home on the lot. In the end, he agreed to move the house.

Click here, here, here, here, and here for previous coverage.

Salvatore said he now values all the input, which shows how passionate New Haveners are about their city. He said he has a couple of other projects planned in the city, the details of which he declined to discuss.

Salvatore’s new building was hailed Thursday by economic development chief Matthew Nemerson, Mayor Toni Harp, Dwight Alder Frank Douglass, and Brian McGrath, former city traffic tsar, now second in command at the Chapel West Special Services District. He predicted that the building’s construction will be the beginning of a snowball of development in the area. It will be like the 9th Square, where the first investment took years, and then it took off, McGrath said.

Salvatore said he does not have tenants for the commercial spaces on the first floor but is in talks with potential tenants. He said he’d like to see a restaurant in at least one of the spaces.

The house will be sold to developer Joel Schiavone, who said he plans to renovate the structure to serve as a new home for Yale’s Lincoln Society, one of the universities “secret societies.”

Schiavone said the house will have two apartments upstairs, the rest of the building will be a clubhouse. He said the building will have a new roof, new siding, and a new porch, among other improvements. He said he hopes to have the work done by the middle of August.

“It will be an interesting rose among a lot of thorns down there,” he said.

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posted by: Lao ri on June 13, 2014  8:50am

The new building is out of harmony with the surroundings, and appears cheaply built.
Selling the retail space is questionable as evidenced by the empty Yale structure across Howe St.
It’s a thorn among a lot of roses.

posted by: DrFeelgood on June 13, 2014  9:33am

Looks like a great addition to the area.  New Haven needs more apartments and that is exactly what this developer is bringing us. People were complaining about having a building in Chapel West that was 5 stories tall?? The building across the street is at least 5 or 6 stories and does not even have any ground floor retail.  The retail spots will start to fill now that the area is becoming nicer, with the influx of people, and hopefully safer as well.

posted by: Paul Wessel on June 13, 2014  10:07am

Pity that life isn’t as pretty as the architectural renderings.

posted by: Threefifths on June 13, 2014  10:26am

Just yards away, a historic home has been jacked up and rests on piers, awaiting a 50-foot move. The 1890s house is being preserved and shifted just a small distance west on Chapel Street, to make way for the apartment building. The house will be the new home of the Lincoln Society, one of Yale’s “secret” senior clubs.


Skull and bones?

Construction has already commenced at the site. Workers are setting the foundation for the five-story building, which will have 132 market-rate rental apartments and 4,326 square feet of retail space on the first floor.

Market Rate Rental Apartments.Take bets The one bed rooms will be over 1,300 a month. Keep Sleeping New Haven.


In the twenty-first century, the visions of J.C. Nichols and Walt Disney have come full circle and joined. “Neighborhoods” are increasingly “developments,” corporate theme parks. But corporations aren’t interested in the messy ebb and flow of humanity. They want stability and predictable rates of return. And although racial discrimination is no longer a stated policy for real estate brokers and developers, racial and social homogeneity are still firmly embedded in America’s collective idea of stability; that’s what our new landlords are thinking even if they are not saying it.
― Tanner Colby,

posted by: Esbey on June 13, 2014  11:04am

Where’s 3/5’s to bemoan the lost homes of the cars that used to inhabit that parking lot?  I bet you almost all of those cars had lower income than the people who will move into these apartments.  The gentrification vampires have come—wake-up!—they are displacing our cars!

posted by: Scot on June 13, 2014  11:22am

I’m really happy that they saved this house.  It (along with the other similar style homes in the area) will give the neighborhood so much character especially as time goes by and other more modern buildings go up.  It will help keep the old historic feeling which is very unique to New Haven compared with lots of other US cities. I’m also excited to see this apartment building go up, best of luck to the developers.

posted by: citoyen on June 13, 2014  12:29pm

Uh, oh.  Schiavone says he is going to put “new siding” on the historic house?  Just what does he mean?  Vinyl?

If he does that, then all the efforts to preserve the house, and by extension, the character of the neighborhood, will be seriously compromised.

The existing clapboards (which I have also seen in person) look to be in decent shape, and should be kept, restored, painted.  Only that.

posted by: Dwightstreeter on June 13, 2014  1:29pm

The Friends of the Dwight Neighborhood saved the historic house that is being moved, The developer was opposed; the City was indifferent and the union leadership that lobbied for union jobs on the project was equally indifferent.

This project is the beginning of the gentrification of the Dwight neighborhood and any one could see it coming. East Rock is too expensive and Ninth Square is spoken for.

Salvatore will charge luxury prices for his Hardie Board Hulk despite the supporters who wrote comments in support of more neighborhood housing. Neighbors on Edgewood and George, etc. will not be the tenants. And housing segregation will continue despite an African American Mayor in office.

And there is more to come?

Oh, the horror of it!

posted by: Esbey on June 13, 2014  4:56pm

@dwightstreeter—congrats on saving the house! 

But: how are Dwight street neighbors hurt by new housing on an old parking lot?  If gentrification is for sure coming to Dwight, then prices are rising whether or not new housing supply is built. They will rise less if there is more supply and will rise more if neighbors manage to stop new development. 

I am confused by your simultaneous opinions that the quality of the building material is beneath your aesthetic dignity and you predict the building will draw luxury rents that no one you know can afford.  Do you want the building to be more expensive, or less? It seems like you want both.

posted by: Dwightstreeter on June 13, 2014  8:01pm

To Esbey et al:

the neighbors were never against a building on that spot. So let’s lay that myth to rest once and for all.

The controversy was over the size, layout and safety of the project, with some aesthetic concerns as well. Preservation of the historic green house was also on the list.l

As for the materials being beneath my aesthetic dignity, I suggest you wait until Salvatore’s building is up and then compare it to the renovated gem across the street, as well as to the preserved green house. The design is oblivious to the character of the neighborhood and that will be apparent.

Modifications were ultimately made to the design, although not all concerns have been addressed. The officials who make these decisions will have to live with themselves. The zoning was changed to accommodate this project, so it may be coming to your neighborhood next.

Salvatore has built many projects similar to this one in Stamford. The closest one in design to the New Haven building is on Washington Blvd in Stamford. It is a large paneled rectangular facade, likely of Hardie Board, with street level parking, and thus no foot traffic, and vestigial “balconies”, really just props that “suggest” a balcony. It is reportedly very successful with the young transient professionals employed by the local corporations and go for premium rents. I guess it beats those cinder block dorms they used to live in.

Just because Salvatore’s project, in my opinion, is lacking in any architectural value, does not mean that it won’t get premium rents.

Developers are numbers people; not design enthusiasts. It’s a business and it’s about money. We all get it.

posted by: tbialecki on June 14, 2014  12:58am

Dwightstreeter the city and the developer came to agreement along with the NHPreservation Trust early on to move the Chapel Street house after numerous discussions.  The developer went through many hoops to acquire the adjacent vacant lot that was in foreclosure in court to relocate the house.  It amazes me that every development project in the last 20 years you and the Urban Design League have opposed.  What is particularly troublesome is that many real estate professionals have benefitted from all this development and yet present themselves as critics who cannot undertake or find developers to do the type of development you advocate.  Seems that with all the “expertise” that you and the Urban Design League profess to have you should be able to attract developers who will undertake these projects.

posted by: Esbey on June 14, 2014  12:38pm

@dwightstreeter—

I accept your argument that when I see the place I may decide that it is beneath my aesthetic dignity as well.  In your description of the Stanford apartments, the thing I find most horrifying is the first-floor parking.  That is usually the result of parking regulations, which I oppose.  But I am opposed to first-floor parking even if it is provided voluntarily.  You are right, it really kills the life of the sidewalk and street.

You say the neighbors didn’t oppose a building on that spot, just that it be smaller in size and more expensively built.  In practice, those demands often prevent development (at other locations if not this one), driving up rents and tax burdens.  There is a trade-off between expensive design (on one hand) and quantity of housing supply (on the other).

I know that some designs are just stupid (i.e. a more attractive building could be built at the same cost), but the sneering at “Hardie board” (which appears to be an affordable and durable modern material) makes me think we are talking “more expensive” not just smarter. 

If there are ideas for making buildings better at the same cost, then I am very interested in getting those into the debate (you seem to know a lot about design, so you probably have some.)

By the way, I will make a friendly bet that these apartments end up costing noticeably less per square foot than fancier downtown places like 360 State.  (I could be wrong, in which case you “win”).

posted by: Dwightstreeter on June 16, 2014  10:00am

to tbialecki:

Yes, the NH Preservation Trust favored saving the historic house, but the developer was initially against it, as were business interests represented by the Chapel West Special Services District and the political interests represented by the Dwight Management Team.

As you know, the Trust does not have the clout to save a property if the owner wants to demolish it, which was the original plan.

The Friends of the Dwight Neighborhood Assn. had no friends when it came to lobbying to save the house, including Alderman Frank Douglass who was practically mute when it came to representing neighborhood interests over those of the union.

By taking a broad swipe at the Urban League’s expertise and interest in making projects better, you muddy the waters and miss the point.

Good development is a win-win. Instead city officials look at short term (tax base) gains, unless a project is opposed in a more politically powerful neighborhood, such as East Rock or Wooster Square.

Politicians are lousy city planners. They kow-tow to developers who are only here to make a buck. They are NOT investing in the long term, whereas people who actually live in the city and have interests to protect are bull-dozed by commissions full of political appointees on a mission to please the people who appointed them.

I can only hope the BD-1 zone results in development in YOUR neighborhood. Then we can talk.

posted by: Dwightstreeter on June 16, 2014  10:11am

Esbey:

The Friends did not ask that the building be more expensively built. The original design had some brick at ground level, but the latest version lacks even that minor attempt to put some authentic material on the facade.

Two of the issues also involved the mass and layout. The new design will be higher, but has a different footprint. It is a bit of an improvement.

Your concern for the costs for a developer to use quality materials is touching.

Let’s see how this building actually fits into the setting. How safe will the entry on Chapel St. be? How much foot traffic will be attracted to the side of the street with ground floor parking and not much else.

If you want a preview of the building, look to the Yale garage across the street and the empty stores with window dressing.

posted by: Colin M. Caplan on June 16, 2014  1:53pm

The house dates to 1903, so it is a 20th century house. Dean Sakamoto Architects did the plans.

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