this is why New Haven will never be a great city and why CT will continue to loose business to NY and Boston. who protests getting rid of tenements. Only in New Haven. Its unreal the way we hold ourselves back at our own expense.
BS move by union aligned Alders to once again invade a private market project and feather their own nest. Of course Boss Proto is involved. Same crap that stopped the hotel a few blocks away a few years ago. This corruption is unbelievable.
I think this ban is bad policy. How about a plan to make it easier and profitable to open new rooming houses instead of forcing old ones to remain as is? The old Ronald McDonald house on George St would make a nice SRO
While I applaud the four Alders intent to preserve affordable housing in the core of the downtown, I am baffled by the timing of this extremely ill-advised attempt at a last minute, questionable moratorium. Especially when the moratorium seems to be targeted only at the Duncan and, more importantly, only after essentially all of the residents have been relocated and the building is effectively vacant. Do we really want another shuttered building?
I believe this attempt to block a project that will benefit the City of New Haven in numerous ways, is very dangerous. It exposes the City to numerous claims for violation of due process as it effectively constitutes a taking. A six month moratorium can be extended effectively forever. Why would anyone, especially Alders that I know and respect, not realize the legal jeopardy and massive exposure their actions may cause. Not only that, it discourages developers from risking their capital on any project knowing that it can be stopped politically, even after a building has been emptied in reasonable reliance on existing laws and regulations.
I personally know one of the individuals who was re-located. He was treated with respect and fairly. That former resident ended up in the same general area, in a far nicer apartment without having to share a bathroom and had its own kitchen. He was pleased to get out of a sub-standard building, rife with insect infestation, for LESS than he was paying at the Duncan.
Finally, I would respectfully suggest to the Alders that it is too late (at least for this project) and that their good intentions, time and efforts are better served by changing the zoning laws to allow for micro housing (which would rent for approximately the same amount of money) while also being cleaner, safer and with more amenities. It is a matter of dignity and safety for the occupants, mitigation of damages for the City of New Haven, keeping our taxes from needlessly rising and not stopping a new asset from opening.
Recent real estate investments, exemplified by the market rate residential apartment buildings constructed in New Haven, have been about maximizing the Returns On Investment (ROI) for investors by minimizing costs and charging the maximum rent that the market can handle. It’s not uncommon for new residential buildings to achieve 20-30% ROIs, which is attractive for private investors and it’s a much better ROI as compared to conventional stock market investments.
Inclusionary zoning may be one strategy, among many, to encourage the development of more affordable housing, but even that requires that we continue to play this game with developers and real estate investors within the existing paradigm. While it enables the extraction of benefits like public open space or affordable units, it also usually requires incentives for developers that enable them to build more and build higher, which in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s a dynamic that seems based on a relationship of dependence on big developers and desperate extraction on the part of the public.
Federally-funded public housing is essentially no longer existent. Connecticut’s budget is a disaster, so I’m weary of how much affordable housing the State will (and can afford to) support in coming years. My sense is that there is an enormous source of new and affordable housing that is virtually untapped in the Greater New Haven area. I would rather see tens of thousands of individual residential property owners decide to provide additional housing through the creation of basement, garage, attic, and other apartments on their properties financed by simple bank loans and mortgages than to rely on extracting benefits from huge residential developments financed by out-of-town private equity.
I don’t think the solution to the affordable housing crisis will found in the City, the State, or the Federal government, or in large development projects, I think the solution will be found in the mirror.
Two major barriers to the widespread development of apartments within existing houses by individual residential property owners:
1) Zoning: Most residential zones in the region currently prevent people from converting basements, attics, and garages into apartments. This would need to be changed, but in order to change it, there needs to be widespread public support, but that relates to the second barrier.
2) An apathetic/disinterested/unaware general public: most people just want to go to work, go grocery shopping, and watch TV. Some haven’t ever considered the possibility of creating a home office, or workshop, or business, or rental apartment on their property. Others just don’t want to be landlords or tenants tenants living next door.
For me, the affordable housing effort should be focused on making a sea-change in the way people view their residential neighborhoods and their houses, but that would take a monumental informational/educational campaign and carefully crafted legislation to reform zoning while addressing the valid concerns of property owners that are suspicious of allowing rental apartments in their neighborhoods. I am currently working to find satisfactory solutions to these issues, but it will be another year and a half before I will have anything concrete to present.
1. Any private investor wants to maximize ROI.
2. On what basis are you saying these projects have 20%-30%? Most of the developers are private companies, and their costs would be proprietary information. I am not saying that some buildings may not have ROIs like that, but other projects would be negative. There is a lot of risk, especially regulatory risk in real estate development in CT. Look at how New Haven is screwing with these guys, how Northland and Salvatore had roadblock after roadblock thrown in from to them.
3. Yes, it would be great if New Haven would encourage more housing to be brought to market. However, it does the opposite when it makes unreasonable and uneconomic demands on landlords and generally vilifies them. (see the article on Heo/Gaumans and lead abatement.)
Given that the four remaining tenants already have places to go, I cannot but think that Eidelson is lying through her teeth in saying that she cares about preserving the Duncan as an SRO, or SRO tenants. As the article implies, it is far more likely just a union shakedown, another instance where union alders, this time with Harp’s support, block something good for the city overall to promote UNITE-HERE.
1) Definitely. However, I would argue that large property management companies are more adept at pricing units at the maximum that the market can handle than individual or small landlords. I am encouraging a shift to new housing being supplied by widespread residential property owners creating units on their properties. In my opinion, this would produce lower priced units because individual, novice landlords are more likely to charge the minimum amount of rent that allows them to make a profit, as opposed to a big property manager who charges the maximum that the market can handle (those are often two very different numbers).
2) 20-30% is based on estimating the proforma’s on recent development projects in the City. While I think they are pretty accurate, it’s likely that the actual ROIs are more in the 5-15% range even though the paper returns were likely much higher (20-30%) when presented to investors. I agree there is a lot of risk, which is why I encourage massively reducing the risk of supplying new housing by disseminating it across thousands of small individual projects funded by conventional bank loans and second mortgages.
3) I wonder if New Haveners might be more supportive of new housing if it were supplied by their fellow neighbor hiring a local contractor, as opposed to a big developer financed by private equity and hiring out-of-state contractors?
Nemerson might be personally quite conservative, but the administration he serves is not. It is time he starts caring about all the people who live in this city.
I am a huge fan of SROs & have argued strongly in favor of them in the NHI comment sections. We should change zoning laws so they can be built and maintained. We should probably subsidize them.
But this is insane. We need hotel spaces downtown. A developer comes into town, checks the zoning code, purchases a rundown hotel and plans to renovate it. NOW the alders want to change the rules?! Right as the development is moving forward? Do they want to make sure that no one ever again plans a development project in New Haven?
Face it: the Yale Union alders are the worst thing to happen to New Haven in recent years. Time after time, they vote against the interests of our city.
I’m a Ph.D., not a lawyer. But I don’t see how applying the moratorium to the Duncan comports with CGS § 8-2h(b). This provision says that once an owner files a building permit or certificate of occupancy application, its development is not subject to new zoning regulations.
The city needs to identify ways of supporting SROs and other nonconventional types of housing. And CT courts have upheld brief moratoria to allow municipalities to rewrite their zoning ordinances. But applying the moratoria to an as-of-right development that is underway strikes me as inequitable.
The people of New Haven who buy property are not really property owners. We are all fooled with the “3 card Monte” (yes I stole that from 3/5). The city owns the properties. We pay rent, very high rent in comparison with the rest of the state, in the form of taxes. Our landlord does not really take care of the property commensurate to the rent we pay. Our parks are dirty and filled with trash. Unsavory characters loiter on our front steps (the town green) and engage in illegal activity and our landlord does nothing to protect our environment that we pay for with our hard earned rent money. New renters come in to our community and pay an even higher rent than we do. They want to change their space to make it better. This was initially allowed in the lease, but the landlord has now decided that they want to change the rules so that the tenant has to continue to live in the same apartment conditions. Other tenants who have used their own money to improve their apartments, at their own expense, are rewarded with higher rents and less autonomy, or worse yet they are penalized and lose their “security deposit” in the form of money wasted in architects, lawyers and other development soft costs. Will someone please explain to me how the political infrastructure of New Haven is not the same as the slum lords and “gentrification vampires” they would like us to believe they are fighting. Why is no one as upset with the city as they are they would be with a landlord who didn’t he same? Why should prospective tenants (homebuyers and developers) trust the city to be a good landlord and not continue this bait and switch policy? People will lose trust, stop investing in New Haven and those that are stuck here will face housing with deferred maintenance, worsening conditions and rent that continues to increase. And the landlord will probably continue to blame its tenants for its problems.
The ‘old’ Ronald McDonald house is directly across the street from my house.
For years, they were basically an SRO for parents of Cancer Children being treated at the Hospitals. Now they are part of the Hospital Bureaucracy…...
Directly next to my house lives Lady Mayor’s son Matt Harp….still the State’s biggest Tax Scofflaw?
It all just blows my mind…..
Meanwhile, the land values on one end of the street (my end), went up by 200% because of their proximity to the Rte 34 Development Corridor.
At the other end of Dwight, the Brownstone End, the land values increased by 800%, because certain investors are looking to justify their investment portfolio.
And in between, everybody saw their land values go down by 15% and their properties not really appreciate vis a vis their location in Downtown New Haven.
The land values in the Dwight Neighborhood are suppressed to make room for out of town investors and hospital development—plain and simple.
Look out for when the bubble truly bursts.
Kevin: Per the article, AJ Capital has yet to submit even their demolition permit application. They have been working in good faith with Turcio to determine exactly what is needed in that permit. I would presume, initially, they will pull off the solid plaster walls and lathe to expose structural members, plumbing, and wiring. Once they can actually see the bones of the building, they can move on to designing the new HVAC, wiring, supply and soil lines, etc., as well as reconfiguration into rooms with modern, en-suite toilets. Harp could direct Turcio to slow walk the initial permit so it’s not granted before the moratorium. As for definitions, I am not sure how one distinguishes this hotel from other hotels. All hotels offer long term deals, MacArthur stayed at the Waldorf for years. Where does one draw the line? Moreover, it was never a traditional boarding house, as it never offered board, i.e., meals, only rooms. A traditional boarding house includes communal meals, complete with the “boarding house reach”.
In most cities, I would be shocked that some legislators are attempting to change the rules (yes 3 card monte) on someone who has spent huge amounts of money and time buying a property, meeting with the neighbors to get approval, and then helping residents find other places to live. To change the rules now is ridiculous and should not be tolerated by the city or city government.
This is clearly a union power play and should be reported and treated as such.
It’s a no brainer: they both are right. Nemerson is right that the city cannot now change the rules of the game on the developer given how much money they have invested. Sarah is right that some thought be given to this issue. Can a moratorium be passed, and somehow exempt the Duncan?
Shadow: Except Sarah is not trying to address the SRO issue. It’s a subterfuge to block the renovation until the owner agrees to unionization. If she were trying to address the SRO issue, she wouldn’t be seeking to stall a project where all the residents already have other, and often better, residences lined up. The developer has been extremely generous and humane, yet the BoA is still being obstructionist.
As other commentators have pointed out, zoning regulations which were friendlier to micro-apartments, boarding houses, communal housing like the new Elm Street graduate dorm, accessory apartments, etc., would go a long way toward making housing more affordable. So would making the zoning regulations more urbanist by reducing parking requirements, etc. Yet, changing the zoning regulations to make them more suitable for the New Haven of today would deprive the union employees on the BoA of a tool for extracting concessions unrelated to actual zoning. So, don’t look for any change from them.
This is why businesses don’t want to come to New Haven. First, the moratorium may be an unconstitutional taking that might make the city on the hook for any loss of revenues or legal fees incurred during this time period. It’s literally being done to prohibit one developer because the alders aren’t worried about non-downtown SROs, which makes this legally suspect. Just think of Trump and the iterations of travel ban that were rejected. Second, New Haven needs new hotels. Third, the Duncan at $240 per week is $960 per month, which there is other non-downtown housing in New Haven for that price.
The notion of preserving housing stock in a market just to keep it there without a larger plan is silly. I’m not suggesting that there be no SRO or affordable housing near downtown, but don’t waste an asset (a taxable entity). As the City and State grapple with budget deficits, we’re worried about maintaining 39 units when we’ve already placed the tenants?
This is a gross abuse of power. If the alders sink this deal, the developer is completely justified in seeking damages.
If you want to encourage SROs through regulations that’s fine. But it’s wholly unacceptable to target a single development that’s already underway just because you didn’t have the foresight to get ahead of the curve.
Pursue your regulations. And let this deal go through unimpeded.
1644, thanks for the response. But my point was that zoning regulation changes don’t apply once a building permit application is filed, not once it has been approved. The building owner decides when to file the application. I trust Turcio will enforce the Building Code fairly. But even if he “slow walks” the review, it does not matter with regard to the applicability of the moratorium 2
Kevin: From the article: The redeveloper’s team has begun meeting with the city’s building department to get an exploratory demolition permit.
My reading of this is that the developer has yet to file for a permit.
In any case, it’s pretty clear that the Alders want to block this project, now fast-tracking their “moratorium”, although in fact a “rooming house” is being replaced with a “rooming house”, just a one with more modern rooms.
Nemerson has got to have one of the most frustrating jobs around, where the Alders actual work to frustrate and block economic development and the betterment of the city.
Alder Eidelson decides NOW to become ambitious? Give me a break!
Alders. Please. Just. Stop.
As someone who had friends that WANTED to visit New Haven from NYC but couldn’t get a decent hotel room on the weekend and had to stay in Milford instead, just realize this is GOOD and needed for progress. There aren’t enough hotel rooms for visitors to enjoy our city and spend money, which helps the local economy and residents.
Visitors don’t want to stay in an old, worn hotel like the old Duncan.
Stop with the NIMBY BS.
I propose a moratorium on union alders voting on issues in which there is a clear conflict of interest between their responsibility toward the City of New Haven and their role as union representatives. Ms Eidelson might be well-intentioned, but she is at best misguided here.
1644 is right. These same alders oppose small apartments is other contexts, they vote against them.
The rush here has nothing to do with SROs and everything to do with bludgeoning potential hotel developers into accepting unionization, which may make a small boutique hotel unprofitable.
It is their usual MO: the inappropriate use of “zoning” by heavily conflicted alders as a way to threaten harm to New Haven if their narrow interest does not prevail.
A likely outcome, if they succeed, is no hotel with no jobs. But each one of those zero jobs will be union.
A six month moratorium for this project is insane. I think there are huge problems with this piece of legislation in general, but particularly with a project that is underway.
Boy do I hate the Union hostage-taking machine, that is our BOA.
This is another flagrant use of political power to fatten up their union ranks, nothing more.
1644, we are largely in agreement. The developer has not filed the permit application yet. But nothing stops him from doing so before the BOA takes any action. CGS 8-2h applies once the application is filed, not once the building official deems it complete or approves it.
The process for amending an ordinance normally takes a couple of months. The notice and hearing requirements mean that the ordinance cannot be amended next week. With regard to the Duncan, the alders are wasting everyone’s time.
I learned a lot from all the comments. Evidently our city gov. has been taken over by a weak union that is trying to manipulate all incoming developers into using labor that is unionized.
I love hotels; I love unions but I do not love bullies. In the meantime the BOA, zoning people, permit people are holding up a good project here and a decent developer. Our city gov. remains a corrupt and aggravating disaster for the most part shooting itself in the foot every chance it gets and as a result further injuring the poor, the jobless, the homeless, AND the taxpayers. The slumlords continue to do OK.
This: “Eidelson said ... that her motivation is preserving affordable housing, not labor organizing.” “Four of the five alders sponsoring the bill are members or employees of Yale’s UNITE HERE locals.”
And my love/hate relationship with this mind-bogglingly wonderful-yet-still-disgusting city continues.
As for King Duncan: I blat my Schumpeterian trumpet in loud salute, tears in my eyes. Thank you, Dear Duncan, you cheap Scott, for memories irreproducible (and certes some unspeakable and, sadly unerasable). And lo, though I anticipate with hope your post-chrysalis incarnation, how now your prophetic words ring, just ahead of the shiv:
See, see, Our harp-ing hostess!—
The love that follows Us sometime is Our trouble,
Which still We thank as love.
Fair and no-bull hostess,
We are your guest to-night.
I note that comments here and the (useless) online poll comport not with the N’Haven vote that put the progress-killing unionista in power, whose Machiavellian motto is “the end justifies the means” (or is it “Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!”?). Given CT gun laws, how *does* this city manage to shoot itself so often in the foot?
$8 million? Eight?! That’s *it*? Day-um; shoulda bought it maself. Of course, one assumes that the $8MM price does *not* include the costs of rehab plus the now-evident (potentially, of course) grift-n-graft and any other shakedown shimmy. (Maybe Trump was wearing his union hat vis-à-vis cities when he talked about just grabbin’ em by the private sector?)
Imagine what this city would be like if we had some Alders who were interested in projects that would benefit our people (including students, homeowners, renters, visitors) and the economy and infrastructure and jobs and tourism.
This group of Alders loves to protest and they actively work to obstruct legitimate building projects as described here and as they do for Yale under the guise of considering their parking plan.
even classic blue collar employees are tiring of unions