Enviro Mess Kills Self-Storage Plan

David Sepulveda PhotoWestville neighbors and city development officials got their wish: A self-storage business will not move any time soon to the neighborhood gateway at Fitch Street and Whalley Avenue.

At least not the self-storage business that Stephen Zagoren’s company planned to put there.

Zagoren’s Advantage Development Group had a contract to purchase the crumbling two-building 3.6-acre property along the West River at 781 Whalley and 50 Fitch. The group planned to upgrade the buildings, put in 570 self-storage units, and add other uses as well. The former Aerial Map factory and then the Community Action Agency formerly inhabited the space. (The Fitch property still has tenants.)

Neighbors last week expressed concerns about the project at a civil meeting with Zagoren. City development officials have been pushing for housing or other more active uses rather than storage businesses at various industrial properties around town.

Zagoren told the Independent Monday that the Whalley-Fitch deal is now off.

He said his company was in the “due diligence” phase of completing a purchase from the current owner, Bapaz Whalley LLC (whose agent and lead member listed in state records lives in Great Neck, N.Y.) It had expected to spend $600,000 on environmental remediation on top of investing $12 million in the renovation, Zagoren said.

Then last week it did a “phase three” environmental study, which revealed previously undetected hazardous material in the roof and ceilings of the Whalley building. That was going to raise the clean-up cost considerably, Zagoren said.

“It was kind of the last straw with us. We said, ‘Look if he’ll help us, we’ll still do the project. If he won’t, we won’t do anything.’”

His company also learned two weeks ago about mold problems in the Fitch Street building — reported here — that were leading tenants to speak of leaving. The company didn’t know about that, either, Zagoren said.

Finally, his company sent the owner a letter declaring that it is walking away from the deal.

“It’s too bad. I really liked this site,” Zagoren said. He also praised neighbors for the spirit in which they worked with him.

He pegged his company’s loss in the “six figures” from the work spent on the deal.

The question now is: What should happen at the complex?

Neighbors have suggested a shopping or other commercial use that fits more with the active village atmosphere in the commercial district. So far, the market has not drawn an economically feasible proposal along those lines. The environmental clean-up increases the potential cost.

Westville neighbors, meeting on Monday night, threw out potential ideas like a youth exercise gym business, a community commercial kitchen (with cooking classes), an art school, an open-air market with crafts, and a sustainable building generating its own power.

Mayor Toni Harp, speaking on WNHH radio’s “Mayor Monday” program, suggested that the city would like to see some “market-level housing and some retail” at the site despite the potential economic challenges. “Our aspirations are higher,” Harp said. Click here to listen to that episode; the discussion about the Westville property begins at 40:50, including the broader of issue of when it makes sense to let the market speak in seeking to get empty buildings on the tax rolls versus seeking “higher best uses.”

David Sepulveda contributed reporting.

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posted by: THREEFIFTHS on November 15, 2016  7:58pm

Mayor Toni Harp, speaking on WNHH radio’s “Mayor Monday” program, suggested that the city would like to see some “market-level housing and some retail” at the site despite the potential economic challenges. “Our aspirations are higher,” Harp said.

Market -level Housing? Again nothing for the poor and the working class.If you want to see were new haven is going. Read this book.

City for Sale: Ed Koch and the Betrayal of New York

By Wayne Barrett

Review of City for Sale by James Ledbetter

“Today’s reformer is tomorrow’s hack,” Brooklyn boss Meade Esposito used to say.

Esposito had a special knack for making this motto a self-fulfilling prophesy. Surely one of his greatest triumphs was the sell-out he and other New York City machine bosses orchestrated


Mark 8:36 KJV: For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
No shame hast the Judas Goat!!

posted by: Renewhavener on November 16, 2016  12:11am

Glad to see this project not make it out of due diligence. 

That said, hope ol’ Matt got a courtesy copy of the Phase III as a consolation prize for Advantage Development Group kicking the tires… Be good to know the real size of the problem.  It’s not there is some utility we can force to clean it and the asbestos is certainly not going to abate itself:

posted by: ADAK on November 16, 2016  1:28am

Not super bummed to see this not work out as a storage facility, but bummed to hear they pulled out because of the extensiveness of having to rehab the place. Makes other offers look grim…

With all the new apartment developments happening downtown, I can’t believe no one is wanting to turn this place into loft apartments ala Winchester Lofts or even the Smoothie Factory (I know that place has gone downhill…).

This building is at a prime location with it being on the edge of the park, entrance of Westville Village, and proximity to downtown, the highway, grocery stores, etc. It has the West River flowing by it with views of West Rock too.

Someone wanna loan me the money? I’ll make it happen.

posted by: BlueDogMom on November 16, 2016  12:38pm

Again, what about a physican’s offices, a pediatrician?  Westville hasn’t a single local general practice that I can think of.  Something useful would be nice.

posted by: quinn127 on November 16, 2016  3:20pm

It seems like Senior Citizens and Homeless People can never have many choices when it comes to affording somewhere to live. There should be more proposals on building affordable living places because there aren’t many places throughout the city that gives them that option and/or opportunity.
- Let’s face reality, Not Everyone who lives here can afford to live in a decent part of town, simply because New Haven is just so expensive. Not to mention that the crime level is “through the roof” in most areas, and the winters here are usually brutal! There’s homeless people that sleeps at city bus stops, on benches in the parks, and under freeway overpasses. It’s sad to see that, and what makes it even more sad is knowing how they survive each and everyday off of only what they have. Honestly, I think now would be the right time and the right thing to give those who are struggling finding somewhere to stay a chance, at least.

posted by: LookOut on November 16, 2016  5:14pm

I think threefifths will get his way here…..all the creative ideas are great but someone has to PAY for them.  The reality is that the proposed clean up will be so expensive that developers will look elsewhere and the building will stay vacant, get more windows broken, greater mold infestation and all of the associate problems.  This will result in no middle class people moving into apartments or condos and thus we will have the quo that the gentrification warriors desire. 

Sounds great, eh?