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City Wins $16M For Downtown Crossing

by Melissa Bailey | Oct 15, 2010 4:34 pm

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

Posted to: Business/ Economic Development, Downtown

Melissa Bailey Photos It’s going to happen—the highway that split downtown from the Hill will be filled back in, undoing the mistakes of the past.

That news came Friday, as U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (at right in bottom photo) and U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd (at left) announced the city has won a $16 million federal Tiger II grant for the Downtown Crossing project. The plan aims to undo what is now commonly seen as a mistake—tearing down the Oak Street neighborhood over 50 years ago to clear the way for Route 34, which was supposed to connect to a highway that was never built.

The project will transform the Route 34 Connector from a limited access highway to an “urban boulevard,” and create 10 acres of developable land for labs and offices between the North and South Frontage Roads. It will make way for developer Carter Winstanley to build a $140 million, 10-story building of labs and offices on a piece of no-man’s land between College Street and the Air Rights Garage (pictured above).

Click here to read a city narrative of the project.

“Route 34 has divided our downtown for decades,” DeLauro declared at a 1 p.m. press event at the Smilow Cancer Center. “For just as long, we have been trying to reconnect those pieces.” That reconnection has been the city’s top infrastructure priority for some time, and a goal of hers for 30 years, she said.

“It’s unbelievable what has happened today,” she said. “We are going to see this project come to life.”

Mayor John DeStefano made the project a top priority this year. Borrowing a line from Vice President Joe Biden, he announced, “we think the grant is a big f-ing deal.”

City Of New Haven Illustration The $16 million in federal stimulus money will be supplemented by $8 million the state has already committed. The city plans to pick up the remaining $7 million tab, completing the costs for the $31 million first phase of the project, according to city economic development chief Kelly Murphy.

The city won the grant from the federal Department of Transportation through a very competitive process, said U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd. There was $600 million available nationwide, and over $2 billion in requests. Ray LaHood, the secretary of transportation, called Dodd Friday with the news. He told Dodd “it was one of the best proposals” in the country, according to the Senator.

The city didn’t get as much money as it asked for. It asked for $21 million and was granted $16 million. That shortfall will be made up for with an extra $5 million in city funds, according to Murphy.

The successful application came after an unsuccessful one earlier this year, when the city applied for $40 million in Tiger money to support the project.

If building approvals go as expected at the city and state level, construction could start as early as 2011.

The first phase would slow down traffic exiting the I-91/I-95 highway interchange by narrowing the Frontage roads and eliminating Exits 2 and 3 on Route 34. Traffic entering Route 34 from the highway will be divided onto two paths: One express track that goes only to the Air Rights Garage, and another “local access” road that will lead drivers down a narrower Frontage Road toward the Ella T. Grasso Boulevard.

The College Street overpass over Route 34 (pictured) will be filled in to the ground, becoming a more pedestrian- and bike-friendly street, with underground driveways leading to Air Rights.

Most significantly, the infrastructure changes will make way for Winstanley’s grand project, called 100 College Street. Design for the project is is already in the works. Winstanley owns over 1 million square feet of commercial space across the city, including significant projects at Science Park and 300 George St. All those buildings aren’t enough to hold the emerging biotech industry developing from intellectual property created at Yale University and its medical campus, he said.

City Of New Haven Photo IllustrationWinstanley said he already has several tenants—including some biotech enterprises—lined up to lease space in a proposed 400,000-square-foot development at 100 College St. The building (pictured in a photo illustration), which would sit on the land bounded by the Frontage Roads and College and York Streets, has been in the works for five years, he said. Friday’s news brought it one huge step closer to reality.

The project will create 2,000 construction jobs, 1,000 permanent jobs, and $1.5 million in property taxes, according to the city.

“This is a great, exciting first step” to making the development happen, Winstanley (pictured) said in a post-presser interview at the offices of La Voz Hispana. He said construction could begin as early as 2011, but he still has a lot of work to do, including obtaining several approvals.

The land Winstanley seeks to build on, bounded by the Frontage Roads, College Street and the Air Rights Garage, is owned by the state. The next step, said city economic development czar Murphy, is to arrange a deal with the state to transfer the land to the city, which would lease it to the developer.

Once the city owns the land, it would lease it out to Winstanley through a development agreement, which would need aldermanic approval.

Further down the road, Murphy hopes to do the same with other blocks of highway land closer to the highway, and develop more pedestrian-friendly “crossings” at Temple and Orange Streets.

Robert J. Alpern, dean of the Yale Medical School, said he’ll be watching eagerly as the project develops, because Yale is always in need of more lab space.

When buildings go up over Route 34, he said, “we can fill them up as soon as they can build them.” He welcomed the chance to knit the medical campus back together with downtown.

“There’s been a wall between us,” he said.

Yale Vice President Bruce Alexander said the Downtown Crossing will “humanize” a landscape that currently provides a barrier to pedestrians.

“New Haven is becoming more and more a people place,” he said.

Union Station

In other news, the city won about $160,000 in federal money for a different project—building a “transit-oriented development” around Union Station.

Through the NY-CT Sustainable Communities Consortium, the city applied for a pool of federal money to “help plan and coordinate sustainable, transit-oriented development along the I-95 Corridor from New York City through New Haven,” a Dodd spokesman said.

The group won $3.5 million total. The money will go toward planning a new, multi-use complex around Union Station, Murphy said.

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posted by: Charlie O'Keefe on October 15, 2010  11:05pm

More corporate welfare. Does anyone really believe this concrete and glass cube will create 2,000 construction jobs? What bigger kiss of death than to have Chris Dodd hovering. Chairman of the Senate finance committee who got a subsidized mortgage from a bank we are all bailing out. Anyone checking on who Winstanley is giving campaign contributions to.

posted by: Walt on October 16, 2010  6:58am

Dick Lee and Ed Logue must be turning over in their graves.

The only feature which I recall is left from the massive redevelopment which they led seems to be the Temple Street Garage a

If the extreme bikists on this site have their wishes, that will probably become a bike park similar to the dog parks in the suburbs.

posted by: BillB on October 16, 2010  10:02am

This sounds bad for anyone who travels through New Haven. Just a few of the unintended outcomes that come to mind are:

1. It will put thousands of cars onto the downtown streets just while there is a major effort to make the city more friendly to bikes and walkers.

2.The thousands of daily commuters that work at Yale University, Yale-New Haven and St R’s hospitals will need to wind through the city to get to and from work twice daily.

3. Travelers who want to continue through the city on Rt. 34 will be delayed and add to the problem.

4. Traffic will back up onto I91 & I95 creating more daily traffic nightmares if exit one is the only way into the city. This will only get worse after Gateway College opens.

5. This plan will result in people spending more time in their cars.

6. Far more people who live and work in and around New Haven will be adversely effected by this project than the number of people who will benefit.

Perhaps, as an alternative, Rt. 34 could be covered over (not filled in), similar to I95 in The Bronx, NY, or I91 in Hartford. Then buildings and open space could then connect the Yale medical community to the rest of downtown, while traffic flows along the existing path under the newly created space. Developer Carter Winstanley and the Mayor would still have their project and the traffic downtown would not be made worse.

posted by: Gretchen Pritchard on October 16, 2010  10:14am

Basically I’m in favor of this, but it’s kind of disingenuous to refer to bulldozing an old, dense, rabbit-warren of a neighborhood as a mistake and then put forward a boulevard-based area of offices and labs as the rectification of that mistake.  If what Winstanley et al are proposing is a Good Thing, then building it would have meant condemning the Oak Street neighborhood, every bit as much as the Richard C. Lee Highway monstrosity condemned it 50 years ago.

Now if somebody could just reconnect Wooster Square with lower State Street and Fair Haven ...

posted by: Walt on October 16, 2010  1:02pm

BillB’s idea in his number 6 makes sense

Why destroy and fill-in the underground highway?  st build over it

If it costs Winstanley a few bucks more,who cares?

It will retain a needed traffic artery and save taxpayers millions

Throw in a bike-path for the bikists and all will be happy.

posted by: blue dog dem on October 16, 2010  2:44pm

No one has commented on the fact that the city is going to pick up the additional $7 million.  Where is it getting the money?  From all the surpluses that King John has created over the years?  Does anyone think that the project will come in at or under budget, meaning today’s $7 million is tomorrow’s $12 mil. 

Also, as pointed out above, traffic is already a nightmare on 34 without removing two of the three exits.  Another poorly planned venture by an administration that has no clue.

posted by: The Count on October 16, 2010  3:29pm

That “rumbling” sound you feel is just former mayor Dick Lee spinning in his grave.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on October 16, 2010  4:11pm

This should be a dual process development project. The first design scheme should be seen as an intermediate condition that bridges today’s demands for traffic volume with future goals of reduced traffic through introduction of more transportation options.
If the city wanted to do the best project possible, they would pursue making changes at the state level to allow the highway right-of-way to be modified to allow a combining of the frontage roads into a single roadway. This road could be created by widening South Frontage Road and Legion Avenue and be designed to initially carry the traffic volume that currently exists, meaning that it would probably be a very wide road with many lanes and it would be pretty unpleasant. North Frontage road could be converted to a narrow service alley that accesses parking garages, loading docks and drop off stations for trucks.
The winding, chaotic, ridiculous and dangerous underground service alleys should be abandoned. The South Frontage/Legion Ave roadway should be designed so that over time it can be converted into a multi-modal transportation boulevard with medians, separated low and high speed lanes, generous pedestrian malls, street trees, bike lanes and storage infrastructure, and bus-only lanes. This would allow for high density and tall building heights lining the boulevard and for buildings on side streets going towards downtown or the Hill to match up with the appropriate scale. The plan, as it stands, simply creates big block islands. The plan calls for 5 lane one-way surface roads, which would be as wide as the new Q Bridge. 3 lanes in one direction is already getting pretty dangerous when people try to change lanes because merging can occur from 2 lanes simultaneously - 5 is just absurd.

Aerial View of a Multi-modal transportation boulevard:
http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc4/hs775.snc4/67556_1460990239839_1085910074_31068005_5118563_n.jpg
Street View of same Boulevard:
http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash2/hs384.ash2/66286_1460990519846_1085910074_31068006_8161263_n.jpg

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on October 16, 2010  4:20pm

blue dog dem,
New Haven has more budgetary problems because of highways, then because of bad governance. New Haven’s 19th and 20th century prosperity was spent on the developing of the suburbs. In order to have long term economic security the city must undue the backwards policies of the last 6 decades. If people don’t like traffic then they can stop driving. If people don’t like increasing asthma rates, they can stop driving. If people don’t like bankrupting their family budgets, they can stop driving. If people don’t like being obese, they can stop driving. If people want to be car dependent then they should move to Los Angeles and allow North Eastern towns and cities to regain their traditional character and livability.

posted by: Jenn on October 16, 2010  5:13pm

How are those who work at Yale, Yale-New Haven and St. Raph’s supposed to get to and from work? How are emergency vehicles transporting those in need of critical care going to get from the surrounding areas to Y-NH or ST. Raph’s?

If I’m not mistaken, Y-NH is a level one trauma center that accepts LifeStar patients from all over Southern New England and Western New York. How is this going to be user friendly to the families that need to travel into New Haven?

And I’m just waiting for one of the NH elitists-hipsters-J.Hopkins to say that hospital use should be only for NH Residents and that people in the suburbs are evil and don’t deserve medical care.

posted by: blue dog dem on October 16, 2010  5:43pm

JH

You’re absolutley right.  The $800 million health plan and pension liabilites are a direct reflection of the suburbs.  The selling-off of our city’s assets are a direct response to the highways and suburbs.  I don’t have the time to walk one hour to work and am happy that you can.  My neighbor has had two scooters stolen downtown and biking is not an option in a suit.  I’m still waiting to hear you volunteer to write a check for seven million or at least address where this money is going to come from.  As far as your utopia, you should just get used to the fact that it ain’t happening here.

posted by: Kevin on October 16, 2010  6:45pm

I think some folks have not read the article carefully (Melissa, a plan of the highway design would help.)

It is inaccurate to say that, as a result of the project, commuters to Yale, YNH, and St. Raph’s “will need to wind through the city to get to and from work twice daily”. Those who park in the air rights garage will continue to use Rt. 34, those who park elsewhere will use the frontage roads. Nor is it accurate to say that the project will “destroy and fill-in the underground highway” and in fact a key component of the project is to build over the highway.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on October 16, 2010  8:31pm

Jenn and others,
You should actually read and study the released documents on the proposal. If you did that, you’d realize that this proposal is creating 2-5 lanes one way highways and a separate network of subterranean streets that would access parking and local streets. Under the current proposal the existing state highway right-of-way is being maintained. The language surrounding the current proposal is exaggerated and is making the city’s plan sound much more daring than it actually is. These roads will not be boulevards, they will be highways that happen to be at grade. There is an enormous gap between what the city is trying to sell the plan as being, what the media is reporting this plan to be and what the actual implementation of this design will be.
You’re post might have some merit if the exact opposite of what you said were actually true. By expressing a desire to keep route 34 as it currently exists and to tout it as a functional piece of infrastructure is to side with one of the most elitist, anti-populist, and destructive acts in our countries history; that is the taking of working people’s homes against their will in order to implement a plan that was conceived in private meetings by wealthy, elite professionals who did not live within the neighborhood and most didn’t even live in the city, for that matter.
http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/photo.php?fbid=1226207890427&set=a.1127779109769.2018844.1085910074
If you’re going to attempt to call me out, at least read the available public documents and have a minimal understanding of the history of route 34. The planning specialized professions that emerged after WW2 in this country are elite. The design principles that I support are from an earlier era when multi-disciplinary individuals created comprehensive planning strategies that addressed the common good of the public. The standards that produced things like Route 34 are from the modern era when the uptmost concern is for maximizing travel speeds even if the cost is children’s health, long term fiscal security, public perception of safety, and nearby land value.
Additionally, it is precisely the car dependence brought on by suburban development patterns that cause emergency vehicles to have slow response times. It is precisely the infrastructure that solely serve automobiles - highways - that contributes to congestion and encourages more driving.
I support the idea of re-envisioning route 34, but I do not support the city’s current plan because its terrible.

posted by: Steve on October 16, 2010  9:57pm

@ BillB and Jenn.

I don’t think you understand the plan.  No one will have to “wind through” city streets and you will get to the hospital by almost exactly the same route that you do now.  If you are going to park at the hospital, you follow the existing path (under the new lab building) straight into the garage. 

If you are going elsewhere, you will find that the highway flows directly into a 4-lane one-way “urban boulevard” on the site of the existing Frontage roads.  At worst, you get stopped by a stoplight at Church or College, but that is the entire inconvenience. 

We are talking about shortening the “highway” part of 34 by three blocks (from Church to just beyond College) and in return we knit back Downtown and get, just in the first block to be developed, 1000 new permanent jobs.  (And, by the way, those folks won’t be on the new Boulevard—they take the underground access road directly to their parking garage.)

posted by: nfjanette on October 17, 2010  3:07am

It’s going to happen—the highway that split downtown from the Hill will be filled back in, undoing the mistakes of the past.

At least the reporter started the statement with a valid fact.  The rest goes downhill from there, freely mixing subjective opinion into the coverage of this story.  As I’ve commented previously and as is noted in other comments on this piece, this has the potential to cause a traffic disaster unprecedented in city history and will increase their dwell time in the area - with increased emissions.  Still seem like a good idea?  As also noted, the opening of Gateway downtown will be the nail in the coffin.  For a taste of what is to come, observe the traffic chaos between five to five thirty weeknights at the Gateway campus on Long Wharf and see why any rational implementation of Downtown Crossing had better do a far better job of handling the expected traffic that it currently appears.

posted by: cedarhillresident on October 17, 2010  10:41am

ha JH a hipster, not seeing that one at all! Jenn I think your dead wrong on that, life long Resident that has more insight than many. The kid is impressive.
But I do not agree with you on this one JH..infact I had the same question that blue dog has, with drastic cuts coming this year and even with that property tax increases if not this year next..(and BIG ONES) the fight only months away. To ask the residents to pay for this is CRAZY! Is it a good thing…I think it just might be. Should the city find the 7 mill they are short from somewhere besides the over burdened tax payer…I think they owe it to us.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on October 17, 2010  2:49pm

“this has the potential to cause a traffic disaster unprecedented in city history”

That’s not true.
http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash1/hs274.ash1/20155_1226206730398_1085910074_30557031_2587313_n.jpg
The solution to traffic problems isn’t more lanes, wider lanes, more lighting, more generous turning radii, or any of the conventional methods described in 1970s era design manuals. The only comprehensive way to address traffic is through mixed-use planning that supports many different, but equally viable forms of transportation.

blue dog,
I should correct my statement; what I meant to say was:
The policies enacted between the 1940s and 1970s at all levels of government (like the Federal Highway Act, Urban Renewal, etc) have contributed to today’s budget problems more than contemporary governance has. This is true because enormous physical changes were made to the city and because the public sector was massively increased with the help of federal funding, which has since dried up for the most part. These initially federally funded changes now have to be paid for and maintained by state and local governments. The historic municipal boundaries we currently use were drawn when New Haven was mostly woods and they do not reflect today’s population realities. These extreme conditions lead to undesirable policies at the local level, but the blame for that lies with the poor decisions made by the previous generation, which must be undone. It is also true that we should critique public policy and ensure as best we can that it doesn’t make things worse. Whether or not Destefano’s policies are helpful is a different argument, but I sure as hell wouldn’t want the burden of running a post industrial city in 21st century America considering the public’s negative view of ‘cities’, development patterns, and government policies that represent enormous inertia running against cities like New Haven when combined.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on October 17, 2010  2:52pm

Jenn,
I think I posted a bad link, here is the correct one:
http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc3/hs194.snc3/20155_1226207890427_1085910074_30557055_5188899_n.jpg

posted by: anon on October 17, 2010  3:33pm

The new plan will actually handle far more traffic.  Slow speeds, and you can get many more cars through in a given time frame because cars can drive closer together.

Don’t worry about congestion—worry about rising asthma rates, noise and deaths due to higher traffic. 

Let’s hope the plan has some serious traffic calming measures installed, so that Frontage isn’t even more of a “wall” between Downtown and the impoverished Hill neighborhood than it currently is. 

It’s time for the city to build safer, transit-oriented streets for people, not streets designed to limit residents’ access to jobs, services, and clean air.  In other words, the city needs to stand up to DOT and fight for fewer lanes in this plan, since traffic congestion isn’t going to be the major concern here.

posted by: streever on October 17, 2010  4:45pm

Dick Lee should turn over in his grave. However, I suspect he, much like a former Alderman I know (who actually lead the vote on approving this) regretted it before he passed.

The alder was very open that route 34 was a huge mistake, a divisive and unneeded addition to the city, as was the rest of “urban renewal”—a renewal that took place with a huge exodus of city residents, which it did nothing to ameliorate.

This will be great for the city. It will create jobs, it will bring more life to downtown.

Good job!

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on October 17, 2010  4:54pm

CedarHill,
I do not support the city’s current proposal. I do support the desire to change Route 34 from a wealth-decentralizing, budgetary blackhole into a place-making, wealth generating development. In order to ensure that the project is not a waste of public funds, and is cost effective, the public has to demand better standards, and a better project. I think this is an appropriate time for a project of this scale because it has the potential of mitigating many of the problems that currently add to our municipal costs. It is our job to make sure the full potential of this idea is realized.
The spending issues are from elsewhere, like on social engineering programs which often times make problems worse or result in massively inefficient use of funds. Projects that create jobs for all skill levels, attract local retail, support various transportation options, facilitate civic activity and bring diverse groups of people together are the most effective way at addressing the education gap, poverty, crime, a bloated public sector, social degradation, and poor public health.
Right now the proposal is going to create high-tech industry, medical-related, research and other high-skill, highly educated jobs; its going to create high rise housing that only a small portion of the young population likes; it is going to continue the traffic issues that already exist without setting up the infrastructure of the future; and it is going to address very few of the real problems that effect the families and quality of life in this city. That is why it is important to make the project better, more inclusive, more comprehensive, more long-term oriented and most cost effective.

posted by: Jenn on October 17, 2010  6:19pm

Thank you, Steve for clarifying without taking the elitist tone ...

posted by: Politricks for Ever on October 17, 2010  7:46pm

Lets analyze this. Its all good news with a Republican House and Senate in a few weeks. This will be one of the first chunks of pork to be cut. It was all smoke and mirrors anyhow. 1,000 jobs. No way. UI have given up on New Haven and are moving out of town. Taxes too high. Even if this development takes off there will be a loss of jobs downtown. Just look at Whinstanley’s development on Winchester Avenue. An empty parking garage for Science Park. How many apartments have been rented at 300 State Street. The Mayor’s gone wild on property. So the city needs to pony up
$7 million. No problem. 70 layoffs next year. We all know Johnny Boy doesn’t increase taxes in an election year. Or are the rumors he’s getting out before the city collapses are correct.

posted by: blue dog dem on October 17, 2010  11:11pm

JH
Sorry I misunderstood your original post, but it seems still to be unfair to charge each household the equivalent of a couple hundred dollars to possibly create 1,000 jobs, especially when only 10-20% will be to NH residents, and the rest to the dreaded suburbs. 
I’m a capitalist and believe that if it is worth building, then the private sector can come up with the money.  If they’re not interested, we shouldn’t be either.  Dean Alpern and Yale Medical want to benefit, let them kick in $10 million to the process and let JDS find another way to waste our money.

posted by: anon on October 18, 2010  8:54am

Blue Dog, you are correct that the suburbs (and wealthier residents in general) should pay for a far larger share of the project, considering the extent to which city residents already subsidize the lifestyles of suburbanites.  Only a tiny portion of our highways, for example, are paid for through gas tax revenue.

However, I think the city is being pragmatic in this case - tax policies aren’t likely to change overnight, and passing up such a major opportunity to grow the city’s tax base—starting this year—would be seen as a shortsighted move by most.

posted by: Pedro Soto on October 18, 2010  8:59am

Poltricks, I’ve got to stop you there, you’re just making crap up to suit your agende and clearly have no care to look at the actual facts.

“Whinstanley’s development on Winchester Avenue. An empty parking garage for Science Park.

Wrong. Winstanley’s developments in Science park, and his development at 300 George Street are all fully leased up, and the retail spaces in the bottom of the garage are going to see 2 restaurants within the next 3 months.

- How many apartments have been rented at 300 State Street “
360 State Street is renting about a dozen units a week, and the developer expects to hit their rental goals by next summer.

New Haven currently has one of the lowest Class A office vacancy rates, and the lowest apartment vacancy rate in the entire country.


I find it pretty amazing that people are flipping out over what is basically 3 city blocks. The same grouches who yell at New Haven for it’s high taxes are, in the same breath yelling at New Haven for trying to add ACRES of properties onto its tax rolls. Come on!

Seriously, it’s 3 blocks. How much is this going to increase a 30 minute commute to? 33 minutes? 34? I guarantee you that any random traffic jam on 95 causes much more time wasted than any traffic change that would happen here.

Nevermind, that if I read the plans correctly, the thousands of garage parkers are going to get a 3 block express-lane to the air rights garage, and to whatever parking is put in under these buildings.

I’m in agreement with Johnathan and Anon on their points. This is not going to cause doom and gloom and traffic chaos in the city. It’s going to open several barren acres of highway to development, and finally bring two separated sections of the city together after decades, and New Haven will be a better place for it.

posted by: the big problem is.. on October 18, 2010  9:57am

how dang ugly that building will be in that spot.  Are they even trying to make it fit in at all?  It looks ridiculous in that rendition.

posted by: Steve B on October 18, 2010  10:40am

To those of you predicting that the sky will fall when this project happens:

Have you ever driven on Rt 34? Is it really not apparent that the highway as currently constructed is a dead end resulting in huge bottlenecks at Exits 2 and 3?

Even from a traffic engineering perspective, the Connector is a disaster. You have multiple lanes of highway-speed traffic being abruptly channeled onto a city street that was never designed for it, with traffic coming in from the left and large portions of those motorists trying to weave over and turn right. It’s a terrible design. Road rage and unnecessary congestion galore.

I see no reason why this project would not IMPROVE driving conditions along Rt 34 and the frontage roads. It will direct vehicles in an orderly fashion onto the Frontage Roads where they ALL END UP ANYWAY ALREADY! But the College and York St clusterf**k will be corrected and the bottlenecks will be eliminated.

As a motorist, you might have cause to complain if Rt 34 had ever been completed in it’s intended fashion. But it wasn’t, so what’s there now is not doing any favors to people in cars.

This project is win-win-win for motorists, non-motorists, and the city as a whole.

posted by: blue dog dem on October 18, 2010  11:27am

anon,

thanks for the laugh, because it’s been a long time since someone called me shortsighted. 

Since the majority of taxes fall on the homeowners of New Haven, and not the renters, it stands to reason that it will cost approximately $400 per household to subsidize this project, based on a population of approx 123,000 and 40-45% homeownership (I don’t have actual figures and am estimating). 

Since this administration has never shown any fiscal common sense, the additional taxes received will be wasted on a new spending spree rather than spending down our debt.  I haven’t heard anyone state that the additional money would be used for reducing taxes or spending down the pension and health liabilities.

JDS has a track record spanning close to two decades and to the best of my knowledge no one can show a time when the city was prosperous that a sizeable amount of money was set aside in a rainy day fund to offset the bad times.

Yale has deep pockets and can afford to contribute to a project that seems to benefit its Medical School.  If private money is used, that shows that smart money thinks its a good idea.  When gov’t spends money, while the idea might have merit, the follow through generally has a lot of waste.  My understanding of non-profits is that they need to spend down their money by year’s end, so let them budget the $10 million shortfall and keep the city out of my pocket. 

I’m sure one of the major reasons for this push is to justify raising taxes, just like last year when JDS said that our childrens’ education was a good reason for doing so.  When the City can show that a majority of the money is being spent on kids, rather than on administration, then it’s well spent.  No one has been able to explain to me why New Haven schools that are 1/3 the size of the ones in NYC have four times more Assistant Principals.

I park at Temple garage now and it’s a nightmare leaving at the end of the work day.  But magically *poof* there won’t be any construction delays and the city planners that have done such a great job so far are going to come up with a scheme to make it all better.  My guess is that it will disrupt traffic for at least a year and then it seems the majority of the profit will go to a private developer in the form of lease payments rather than to our tax rolls. 

I’d rather my $400 go to an afterschool reading program to buy books that parents volunteering can share with the class than to Yale and a developer that have a lot more money than I do.

posted by: anon on October 18, 2010  11:30am

Steve B is correct that this project is a huge win for motorists. 

However, it remains to be seen whether it will improve pedestrian conditions to an acceptable level.  The minor improvements to pedestrian conditions that may result from this project are not sufficient if this city wants to promote economic development more broadly and equitably. 

Of course, this need is more of a medium-term, so has to be balanced with the somewhat shortsighted political and economic reality that the city and state really wants to start building something starting this year.

posted by: SJB on October 18, 2010  12:09pm

The city will own the land, meaning they will be receiving direct lease payments from the developer. That stands to result in significantly more than just property tax payments. And the $400 per household figure is dubious at best. Every property owner in the city pays property taxes (except nonprofits). Renters pay it just like homeowners do, as their landlords are passing on these costs as part of rent. Also you conveniently fail to account for property taxes paid by businesses and commercial properties. Not a trivial amount.

posted by: blue dog dem on October 18, 2010  1:01pm

SJB

I didn’t realize Yale paid taxes to the city.  Who else is moving in to the proposed site?  Biotech companies?  Too many times I’ve seen an entity “commit” to a venture, only to pull out.  Remember the families that lost their houses to eminent domain up north?  No houses and the business walked away.

What are the lease terms for this?  $1 per year?

Also, if they are friends with JDS, it seems that their taxes are a lot lower than those of his non-contributors.  ....

Renters do not pay a proportionate share in comparison to the homeowner.  Most rentals are multi-family, thereby they pay the proportion share of their individual unit, i.e., for a tenant in a three family, they pay a 1/3 increase.  The same with commercial taxes as if I remember correctly they are inordinately low in comparison to residential property tax. If that’s the case, then make a special tax district for that area and let them pay for the privilege of renting so close to Yale. If JDS can do it for the clubs downtown, let him do it for this area too.

You might not like my assumptions as to potential costs so I’d like to read what you assume them to be.  If we still haven’t financed the current budget, why are we spending additional money we don’t have?

posted by: SJB on October 18, 2010  2:28pm

Blue Dog,

I don’t presume to be able to make such calculations on the back of the envelope, so I choose not to, even if they would bolster my arguments, as you believe yours have.

Yale is the single largest taxpayer in New Haven. That’s a fact you can verify by taking a look at the city budget, instead of just pulling numbers out of thin air as you prefer.

Commercial tax rate is the same as residential.

And general mistrust of the mayor is not in itself valid grounds to oppose a project.

posted by: Townie on October 18, 2010  3:10pm

Yet another reason to leave the Elm City. This project is going to create horrible traffic problems for the decades it takes to complete. And believe me, it will take a lot longer than what they’re proposing, it always does. Why can’t they just leave it as it is? And focus their time and efforts into something that will benefit the people of the New Haven and the area?

posted by: Tom on October 18, 2010  3:25pm

To Walt, Bill, Blue Dog and the rest of you who are throwing stones at this project - I’m sincerely thankful that previous generations didn’t share your shortsightedness and monumental lack of vision. If they did we’d all still be living in mud huts traveling around by ox cart too afraid of big government to actually move forward as a society or invest in anything worth having.

This project is going to get rid of a highway to nowhere, and create 1,000 permanent jobs, almost immediately. It’s going to allow the city to continue to develop as a center for biotech and medical research.

Yeah it costs money - that’s the nature of investment. Of course the city should spend money to develop its economy and improve its infrastructure. We can invest now and compete in the 21st century economy or we can make snarky comments about a good project because we don’t like the mayor, while our city falls further behind. If you’re dead-set on living in a place in permanent decline, there are plenty of cheap houses in Detroit just waiting for you.

I didn’t think anyone could find away to argue against creating jobs, tearing down a dead-end freeway and putting more land on the grand list, but here we are.

posted by: Steve B on October 18, 2010  3:35pm

“Yet another reason to leave the Elm City.”

So what’s stopping you? Greener pastures await.

posted by: blue dog dem on October 18, 2010  4:02pm

SJB and Tom

Whether or not I mistrust the mayor is irrelevant.  What is relevant, whether written on a bar napkin or in stone, is the fact that this project would be deficit spending and we haven’t balanced this budget.  As far as PILOT and taxes and what not, maybe they should pay more since we are still broke with all of their generosity. 

How many locals are qualified to work in bio-tech How many of this 1,000 are planning on living in NH vs the burbs?  How many of the 2,000 construction workers live here? What training is going to be provided to the unemployed residents to make this worthwhile to them so that they can be part of the 1,000?

In five years we’ll hear the same complaints that all the jobs go to the people up the shore who commute in.  I’m not for public financing of private jobs.  None of your rebukes will change the fact that we don’t have the cash for this project and no one supporting it has raised any ideas about how to pay for it, so directing your condescension at me won’t change the fact that we don’t have the money to do so.

My last post was edited because I mentioned reduced taxes for those politically connected, so with all the sweetheart deals on taxes or property sales this city has given, I am not holding my breath for a sudden windfall from this project.

Speaking against this project is not speaking against new jobs or the environment, its speaking about wasteful spending of other people’s money and the lack of fiscal discipline that has been shown by this administration for a very long time.  Usually when businesses create jobs it means that they are making money, and they get rid of jobs when they aren’t.  If this is such a job creator that 1,000 permanent jobs are going to appear, let the private sector pay for it.  In the meantime, I’d love for you to calculate on your envelope how to find $7 million without cutting services, jobs or education or raising taxes on the ever-decreasing NH middle class.

posted by: Tom on October 18, 2010  4:46pm

Blue Dog,

...there’s deficit spending and there’s investment. Deficit spending is borrowing to pay operating costs, like salaries. I think we all agree this is a bad thing, it puts punishes the future to pay the present.

Investing often involves borrow money to generate more revenue or in this case of this project, economic growth. We don’t say that business that borrow money to expand are deficit spending, they’re investing. If governments never borrowed money we wouldn’t have the Interstate Highway System, the New York Subway System, some of the world’s busiest ports, etc. This country was built through repeated and sustained investment in public works projects, not by being tight-fisted and cynical when it came to investing in infrastructure and large projects to grow our economy.
.... “spending money we don’t have”. By your rationale, a med student taking out a loan in order to finish med school is a “spending money they don’t have”. A drug company borrowing money for R&D to develop the next round of life-saving drugs is “spending money it doesn’t have”.

The fact that you’re so staunchly opposed to investing in your own community is mindboggling. If I had as little faith as you do in our city, I’d move in a heartbeat.

Like I said before, we can invest in our community, and grow our economy, or we can cynically throw rocks.

posted by: blue dog dem on October 18, 2010  5:10pm

Tom

Who are you borrowing the money from?

posted by: Answer on October 18, 2010  5:13pm

@ bluedog

“no one supporting it has raised any ideas about how to pay for it”

How about it will pay for itself.  Current tax value of land owned by state=0.

$7M investment - bonded for 20 years = no more than $450K a year including interest.

At current tax rate the building only has to be valued at aproximately $10M to produce the payment in tax revenue - and at a price tag of $140M it better be valued a lot more than that.  So we pay for it up front, it will pay back generations of taxpayers to come.

posted by: blue dog dem on October 18, 2010  5:38pm

A business will borrow money by selling bonds rather than go to a bank or private lender to create the capital to invest in a project.  It doesn’t tax it’s employees promising future benefits will offset current pain.

Deficit spending is spending money you don’t have, whether on day-to-day ops or a massive project.  A med student taking a loan is an entrepreneur, investing in himself.  The fact that an institution will loan him money is based on his future earning potential. That same med student, if he was already indebted more than he could ever repay would never be loaned the additional funds to pay for med school.  Lenders lend money to those who can repay otherwise they would go out of business. 

Until the administration addresses the pension and health liabilities that are fully guaranteed on the backs of the NH taxpayers, raising taxes for new projects is foolish.  If you think the city should borrow the money, I’d agree with you.  Then all you have to do is find people that would be willing to buy the bonds to finance the project.  Raising taxes to finance another project when services are being cut, jobs are being lost and the city is going to hell doesn’t make sense to me.  I’d rather keep an existing job instead of hoping for two new ones a couple years from now.  Then again, I’m not employed by the City of New Haven, so it really doesn’t affect me either way. 

This is my last post, because I really don’t care.  JDS will do what he wants without any input from anyone and will never be held accountable.  Around here, it’s always someone else’s fault, usually so far removed they don’t even know they’re blamed.  Most of the time people here just like shooting the messenger when they disagree, and I was thankful that CHR actually agreed with me. But again, no one has said where this magical $7mil is coming from, though I must be a terrible person to keep asking about it. 

At least you were nice enough to mention “borrowing” it, from whose pocket I don’t know.  I’m sure that there are people out there who would buy bonds if they were issued, but I kind of doubt it would cover the total amount necessary to fund the project which then goes back to cutting services and raising taxes, which apparently to you, is a fine investment.

posted by: blue dog dem on October 18, 2010  5:41pm

@Answer

I’m perfectly happy with bonds, as I am not forced to buy them.  If that is how it is to be financed, then I am all for it.

posted by: Art McGuire on October 18, 2010  8:45pm

Today’s Register has a story from DeStefano wanting to sell the parking meters. Thats where the money will come from. So Winstanley gets $15 million from the Feds and $7 million from the city. $22 million for about 5 acres of land downtown, or $4 million an acre. Just to connect downtown to the Hill and put up a really ugly building. Anyone remember Bob Matthews and what he was going to do for the city. Same old story here. Promises, promises unfullfilled, and my pockets are emptied by the slick politicians and their buddies.

posted by: Kevin on October 19, 2010  5:11pm

@Art McGuire

The difference between Matthews and Winstanley is that Winstanley has actually rehabbed and filled large buildings in the city (300 George, 25 Science Park).

BTW, I have seen no information that any of the federal or city money is going to Winstanley (who, for the record, I have never met).

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on October 19, 2010  7:40pm

Kevin,
Yale funds Winstanley’s development projects because he can get away with not using union work, but Yale can’t because people would boycott them - or so I hear.

posted by: anon on October 20, 2010  1:13pm

New Haven “borrowed” about 1,000,000 dollars (in today’s money) back in 1716 when it paid Yale University to move here from Old Saybrook. 

Old Saybrook only promised a few hundred thousand. Hartford threw up protests but no money.

Who won out?  Obviously, the borrowing was a good idea, given that Yale University contributes more than $30 million per year directly to the city’s budget, and many hundreds of millions beyond that in terms of indirect wages, spending, etc.

Route 34 is the same deal. We can let the area continue to fester as a ConnDOT-owned pit lined with piles of trash (like much of the rest of this region), or we can turn it into taxable land that will be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

posted by: kevin on October 20, 2010  5:15pm

Jonathan

You may be right, but that wasn’t my point. As far as I can tell, the federal and state money is going to pay for the infrastructure, not the building.

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