City Wins $390K For A “Grand Central Station”

A new pot of money is headed this way to help transform Union Station into New Haven’s Grand Central Station.

That’s the way then-traffic czar Mike Piscitelli described the city’s vision of a re-vamped train station when he made a pitch to the state for financial assistance in 2009.

On Thursday, the state came through with some money towards realizing the vision.

Gov. Dannel Malloy announced the awarding of $5 million to “transit-oriented development” projects in the state, including $390,000 for New Haven.

New Haven’s plans, which have been in the works for several years, include a proposal for a new parking garage along with new stores, offices,  and restaurants at the station. See here and here for background.

Transit-oriented development funding is intended to improve public transportation infrastructure statewide—including rail and bus service—to link communities to each other and people to jobs and housing. The money will be split between 11 towns, with the cities of Meriden, Hartford, and New Britain getting the largest shares.

The funding was approved earlier this year by the state Bond Commission. Municipalities were asked to apply for project funding. The state Department of Transportation and Office of Police Management received 23 applications totaling $13.2 million. The 11 winning applications were selected by the two agencies, along with other departments of state government.

Click here to read New Haven’s application, which was for $1 million.

New Haven’s $390,000 portion will go toward “leveraging additional investment dollars into the transit-oriented development around Union Station,” said city spokesman Adam Joseph. The plans call for “the build-out of Union Station to enhance commercial space in and around it,” putting in additional parking and improving housing at Church Street South.

“It’s all based around this idea of transit-oriented development and building up around Union Station, which fits into expanding the footprint of downtown,” Joseph said. It’s all part of a “coordinated development strategy” that includes Downtown Crossing.

Given the number of people who commute by rail, “it makes sense to grow the city around a transportation asset like Union Station,” Joseph said. “We’ve got the potential to do some really cool things over there. ... It could be a pretty cool area if we do it right.”

Post a Comment

Commenting has closed for this entry

Comments

posted by: Alex on October 14, 2011  8:12am

gentrification, is the word.

posted by: streever on October 14, 2011  9:41am

This is great news.

Transit development is a great social equalizer, enabling individuals of all income levels to commute for work and opening their options.

As part of these projects, I hope the city can expand rail service and improve access. The following measures seem like they would.

1. Synchronize the bus and train system so it is possible to take a bus from Hamden to the train station and ride a train to Stamford, Fairfield, NYC, or other metro areas for work.

2. Improve the streets surrounding the station so they can be safely used by pedestrians and cyclists to reduce congestion and the demand for parking.

posted by: Curious on October 14, 2011  10:10am

Gentrification?  Normalization is more like it.  I walked through the housing across from Union Station by accident once, and it was like something straight out of The Wire.

More parking alone is a great thing for Union Station, if nothing else.

posted by: dm on October 14, 2011  10:21am

@Alex- True, but also consider:

There is a huge need for additional parking at Union Station.

The station area is incredibly underdeveloped and Church Street South needs to be redeveloped anyway.  We might as well use what could be the most valuable land in our city.  See Stamford Plaza.

posted by: anne on October 14, 2011  10:38am

any new work on union station MUST include improving the ridiculously inadequate drop-off and pick-up area in front of the station. it’s hard to navigate, there are not enough spaces for cabs and other vehicles, and it creates traffic problems and unsafe conditions on the street. the last time some work was done on that site, NOTHING was done to change this situation. to the folks involved in planning this new upgrade: don’t ignore it this time!!!!

posted by: Cinderella on October 14, 2011  11:18am

Please include making the area safe for passengers and by that I mean eliminating the housing projects across the street. To walk the two blocks between the Yale School of Nursing and Union Station is very dangerous at any time of the day. And forget about walking from the Knights of Columbus or even lower Orange Street to the station.
Call it “gentrification” , but I call it ” creating safety zones for everyone.”

posted by: Get it Right on October 14, 2011  11:43am

It’s not Grand Central Station if it were it would be a Post Office. It’s Grand Central Terminal.

posted by: ignoranceisbliss on October 14, 2011  12:30pm

Streever,

Some day you are going to be an old man who needs to get to New York by train on a cold and wet February day and I suspect that on that day your views on bike/pedestrian vs other vehicles will be radically different.

posted by: Kevin on October 14, 2011  12:33pm

Additional parking may be necessary but keep in mind that, I believe, additional stations opening in West Haven, North Haven, and other towns along the NH-Hartford corridor will be opening within the decade. This will likely reduce congestion around Union Station because people will be using these other convenient stations. Is this being considered?

I largely believe “things” should be centralized in cities like New Haven, but this does have its pro and cons so shouldn’t be entirely true. New Haven isn’t that larger in population than surrounding areas like Hamden or West Haven either. This is a great example raising questions about this philosophical point.

posted by: streever on October 14, 2011  3:39pm

@Ignoranceisbliss
I routinely see 80 year olds walking in my neighborhood (East Rock) and don’t understand why I wouldn’t do the same.

If their was reliable bus service from residential zones to the train station, synchronized with train departures, I would happily take the bus to the train station as an old man.

If I was unable to safely walk to a bus stop, do you honestly want me driving a single occupancy vehicle?

The type of pedestrian improvements we are advocating for would help the elderly as well. Elderly people can and do walk, all over the world, to get from point A to point B.

posted by: streever on October 14, 2011  3:44pm

Get it Right
No need for the attitude—it was once named Grand Central Station (post the original name, Grand Central Depot), and, in fact, you can find it referred to in official Metro-North documents as “Grand Central Station” still.

While the name is inaccurate, there is no need to take an adversarial tone with someone who mistakenly uses it. It is an extremely common mistake.

posted by: roger huzendubel on October 14, 2011  4:31pm

I take the train evrey day and this is great news . But how much can you do with 390K ? and how much will be used to replace the flip sign if they choose to ? working on parking would be great. Of all the train stations ive been in for small cities, Union station is one of the best. New haven parking authority is not the best.

posted by: Harvey Koizim on October 14, 2011  5:05pm

Some octogenarians just cannot walk more than a couple of blocks.  It’s not because they’re lazy or don’t want to.  It’s because of the unique heart and lung conditions that affect your body as you grow older.  Some have activity limiting diseases like Congestive Heart Failure.  Many of these folks can drive perfectly well and safely, eyes OK reactions OK.  They just cannot walk more than a block or 2 and they cannot climb hills or stairs.

You just cannot generalize when you’re talking about a class of people. 

I’m sure you like to be treated as an individual.  Treat others as such.

posted by: Locnessy81 on October 14, 2011  8:10pm

I second the need for a bike lane to Union Station, as well as more bike and pedestrian friendly areas. I’m not saying for everyone - but for those who would use it (which is a lot of us in New haven, bikes are much more flexible than shuttles and cars and buses), it would certainly cut down on the need for parking. I agree the area needs to be ‘made safer’ - but disagree in the ways people suggest going about this. New haven is unsafe for many reasons - a large gap between the extremely wealthy and the extreme impoverished, and a lack of jobs to close that gap. I hope that this project will provide work opportunities for some of those people in those ‘projects’ you talk about, and so they will feel some sort of both responsibility and ownership in the new Union Station. I think there is a lot of room to make it attractive with labor and green landscaping and trees - why is there no green space there?? As well as bike parking (accessibile to everyone - not just the wealthy with vehicles).

posted by: AE on October 15, 2011  8:28am

@roger huzendubel

New Haven’s $390,000 portion will go toward “leveraging additional investment dollars into the transit-oriented development around Union Station,”

I think that sentence is code for “we’re going to mismanage the money and lose most, if not all, of it without seeing any benefits whatsoever to Union Station or the surrounding area.”

posted by: Marty on October 15, 2011  5:15pm

Just saying. If the long term plan is to revitalize Church St. South, the Department of Economic and Community Development should use their power of eminent domain and demolish those projects across from Union Station. That location is dangerous and an eyesore. Those projects are the first thing one sees when exiting the station.

posted by: NHV on October 15, 2011  8:38pm

@Alex - gentrification? Are you serious? We don’t want a ghetto across from where the gateway for the city is! People arrive in New Haven, step outside the station, and are scared! It’s not even safe to walk along Church St. The Concrete Jungle was a mistake, and it has to go. I’m glad that it’s going to happen, and I hope that there’s a lot more money to come for this project.

posted by: Ben Berkowitz on October 16, 2011  12:38pm

I’m glad that the city is thinking about this.

Let’s start simple:

1) Add a bike lane to Union Station.
2) Get the police department to stop blocking the crosswalks.
3) Clean up the parking lot which is filled with litter.

As long as the housing project still stands in the condition it is in there will be no economic development worthy of an entrance to our City. This money should be used to get pedestrians and bicycles safely to and away from Union Station.

posted by: Alphonse Credenza on October 17, 2011  12:43pm

YEARS and years of talking without a new parking garage.  390K is chicken feed.  The city and the state have done nothing and they will not move on this.  Forget it—terminally incapable.  Except they can build a statue to DeLauro no one except the pols want…

posted by: Steve B on October 17, 2011  12:55pm

Let me get this straight: the city is using Transit Oriented Development funds to build a parking garage? What a joke.

There’s a big difference between TOD and a park-and-ride. TODs are designed to support and promote car-free lifestyles where people can live, work, and/or shop within a short walking distance, or use nearby transit options to accomplish these things. A parking garage supports and promotes suburbanites clogging up the local streets with noisy and polluting cars, making the streets highly undesirable and inhospitable places for walking and spending time. Totally counterproductive to the basic principles of TOD. The state should rescind the funds.

posted by: Daily Commuter on October 17, 2011  1:38pm

Maybe they should use the $390k to hire a crew of hard workers to finish fixing the half of the walkway between the station and the trains that’s been under construction for at least the last six months (maybe longer - I only recently came back to commuting via this terminal).

If they can’t figure out how to rebuild part of a hallway in less than half a year, how long do you think any kind of parking structure will take?  And how over-budget will this go?

Forward thinkers should demand a landing pad, since this thing will be done around the time we all have flying cars.

A simple solution for providing more parking at Union Station would be to get all the cop cars out of the garage. This would open up more spots for paying commuters, and maybe put more cop cars on the streets. You say we don’t have enough cops for all those cars?  Then either hire more cops or sell some cop cars.

I also have a big concern with parking rates going up yet again (to pay for what will likely be the majority of the cost for a new garage that $390k won’t cover).  When I commuted daily 2-3 years ago, I paid around $9/day to park at Union.  Now it’s $15!  A 50% increase in cost is a pretty backwards way of thinking if you’re trying to get people to use mass transit.