His Way Is Not The Highway

Thomas MacMillan PhotoAmerica has paved 61,000 square miles to make the nation’s roads and highways, enough to cover the entire state of Georgia in asphalt.

“It’s a failed experiment,” said developer Max Reim (pictured), who shared that statistic Tuesday evening. “Let’s get over it.”

What the country needs now is development that focuses not on driving, but on walkable, bikeable urban centers, said Reim, the principal at Montreal-based LiveWorkLearnPlay.

Reim brought his development philosophy to the 19th floor of the Omni Hotel Tuesday afternoon, overlooking the former site of the New Haven Coliseum.

Reim’s LiveWorkLearnPlay plans to build a $395 million mixed-use development at the coliseum site, featuring apartments, stores, offices, a hotel, and a public plaza.

The developer showed up at Davenport’s, the Omni’s top floor bar, to present his plans to the Tocqueville Society, comprising donors who give $10,000 or more annually to the United Way. The society is named after Alexis de Tocqueville, the French aristocrat who wrote a seminal survey of democracy in America.

Members of the society gathered in a private room at the bar at 5 p.m. They sipped wine and liquor and nibbled on chocolate-covered strawberries and pineapple, and puff pastries circulated by hotel staff.

Former city traffic tsar Jim Travers, now a United Way vice-president, said he invited Reim to speak with the society because he sees an affinity between him and the group.

“There are common interests between philanthropy and development,” Travers said: They’re both concerned with jobs, housing, and creating community, on private initiatives that go toward the public good.

“I’m just Max,” Reim said, after an introduction by Tom Sansone, head of the Tocqueville society. “I’m just one of you in the room, trying to make New Haven a better place to live.”

As a developer, Reim said, he doesn’t do single-use projects — no shopping centers, no car dealerships or apartment buildings. In recent decades, developers have built endless suburban tract housing and strip malls. That’s led to longer commuting times, less walking and biking, and more public health problems, like obesity and diabetes

What people now want, Reim said, is to live in “mixed-use urban village,” in vibrant, dense mixed-use neighborhoods, where shops and restaurants and apartments coexist. People are moving back to cities, he said. People are looking for the kinds of neighborhoods LiveWorkLearnPlay is building at the Coliseum site.

Reim said construction should start next spring, and Phase 1 will be done by the summer of 2016.

Reim also laid out plans for a vegetable farm as part of the new neighborhood. “Our intent is to build a rooftop organic farm of fruits and vegetables that would supply the restaurants down below and ideally create an education program with some of the elementary schools.”

LiveWorkLearnPlay has included similar projects in other developments, Reim said. “We’ve been very successful in other northeastern cities.”

Reim said he’d like the rooftop farm to be a joint venture between New Haven farming programs like Yale’s sustainable food project and CitySeed farmers market organization and a Quebec rooftop greenhouse company. Reim declined to name the Quebec company; he called it a “very well-established company.”

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posted by: poetbum on June 12, 2014  12:15pm

To improve the places we live we need to do more things like this - large-scale, mixed, sustainable building, replacing it opposite.  And we need it for all income-levels, too.

posted by: robn on June 12, 2014  12:28pm


posted by: HewNaven on June 12, 2014  12:57pm

What the country needs now is development that focuses not on driving, but on walkable, bikeable urban centers, said Reim, the principal at Montreal-based LiveWorkLearnPlay.

We don’t need radical extremists telling us what to do with our bodies. I’ll drive and eat (and text) until I’m dead, or until you are!

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on June 12, 2014  1:39pm

What the country needs now is development that focuses not on driving, but on walkable, bikeable urban centers, said Reim, the principal at Montreal-based LiveWorkLearnPlay

Like I said Decepticons are typically concerned with such things as conquest, rebuilding under their rule, Sounds like Gentrification


posted by: DrFeelgood on June 12, 2014  2:23pm

The gentrification vampires are coming! 
Hahaha just kidding, I actually know what gentrification means.  This project is great for New Haven and great for anyone who lives in New Haven.  Mixed-use developments are the future and we should be very glad that a developer has come here to help us succeed as he shares his vision with us.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on June 12, 2014  5:21pm

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: Scot on June 13, 2014  11:49am

I’m excited by all the developments going on, including this one.  My only concern is it all seems to be large apartment buildings that will be owned by real estate companies who will only offer rental units (someone correct me if that’s wrong).

I wish some of the new developments were condos (or apartments) that individual people/families could purchase, own, and invest in.  I wonder why no developers are in it to build units and sell them individually (rather than rent them). Perhaps the city should try to encourage that more.

posted by: BenBerkowitz on June 13, 2014  6:46pm

Feeling really good about NHV these days. So many positive economic indicators happening in so many parts of the City.