Munson Project Inches Closer To 400 Units

HUMPHREYS & PARTNERS LPThe latest plans for a new apartment complex at the border of the Dixwell and Newhallville neighborhoods show slightly more apartments than had been previously pitched to neighbors and a less prominent “moat” of parking around the rest of the site.

Double A Development Partners’ Doug Gray showed Dixwell neighbors the latest renderings of a slightly revamped plan for 201 Munson St. — the former home of the long-defunct Winchester Repeating Arms campus — during a Thursday evening management team meeting.

Markeshia Ricks PhotoThe developer has ditched the “big house” concept that he’d initially pitched to neighbors, for what will instead be 18 (possibly 20) townhomes to match the scale of the one and two-family houses on Munson Street. (Read here about the first draft of the project.)

The plan still calls for four-story apartment buildings toward the center of the site away from the street. But instead of parking surrounding the site, much of the parking is tucked under the buildings. The townhomes, which will be three bedrooms, will have their own parking garages behind.

Gray told neighbors there will be room on the site for amenities such as a clubhouse, a swimming pool, tennis and basketball courts. He said after the meeting that the number of apartments could land right at 400 — right now it’s hovering at 395, it was previously 385 — because of the additional townhomes and a decision to build fewer two-bedroom apartments in favor of one-bedrooms.

He said the apartment market in New Haven isn’t as good for two-bedrooms as it is for one-bedrooms; the previous design favored two-bedrooms. Gray said he did push his architect to expand the size of the three-bedroom townhomes from 1,000 square feet to between 1,300 and 1,500 square feet because “no one wants to live in a 1,000 square foot, three-bedroom townhouse.”

Remediation Plan Gets Commission OK

HUMPHREYS & PARTNERS LPHe spent some time Thursday talking about upcoming plans to start excavating the 13-acre site to remove over 15,000 cubic feet of lead-contaminated soil and over 1,500 cubic feet of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The excavation will begin in June and should be complete by July.

The plan is to remove anywhere from 80 to 100 truckloads of PCB-contaminated soil in that month’s time, or about four truckloads a day. That soil will be disposed of somewhere in New Jersey, Gray said. Some of the lead-contaminated soil will be relocated on the site, buried under clean soil, that will be then sealed under the foundation of the storied apartment buildings. Anything contaminated by PCBs will be completely removed from the site.

Though the developer doesn’t need it, Double A also will install a vapor barrier under the building as part of their agreement with Olin Corporation, which previously owned the site. Gray said, however, that none of the contaminants on the site will produce a vapor.

The remediation plan for the site was recently approved by the City Plan Commission at its regular monthly meeting Wednesday, with the condition that developers hold a public information session with neighbors and state environmental protection staff about the benefits and risks of the remediation plan.

Tom Breen PhotoDavid Sacco, a civil engineer with TPA Design Group in New Haven, explained to the commissioners Wednesday that the developers are ready to move into the site remediation phase of the project now that they have transported and stockpiled giant mounds of clean fill material on the site itself.

He said that that remediation will take a couple of forms: The developers will need to demolish and remove two remaining building foundations on the site. They will need to remove any extended underground structures and above ground structures, like pavement, fencing, and guardrail.

“The majority of the problems on site can be addressed by rendering the soils environmentally isolated underneath the building slab,” Sacco said. “Someone can’t become exposed to them because they’ll be encapsulated.”

Gray told commissioners on Wednesday and Dixwell neighbors on Thursday that the material will be placed under the building’s slab, and will have a barrier on top of it. “It just needs to be made inaccessible so that no one ingests it,” he said. “Nothing makes it more inaccessible than concrete.”

Sacco said the other more impacted material will need to be excavated and transported offsite for disposal.

“Its ultimate destination will depend on the exact characteristics of the material,” he said. “It’s not going to stay here.”

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posted by: 1644 on April 23, 2018  5:09pm

Yes, dump the polluted soils in New Jersey.  They will never notice.  Just don’t leave an envelope with your name on it under the pile of contaminated soil.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on April 23, 2018  8:45pm

Again.What will the rent be?

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on April 24, 2018  7:00am

3/5ths, I don’t know what the rents will be. I suspect they will be less than rents for the recent downtown developments but more than what most neighborhood residents can pay.

Gentrification is happening in many places. Displacement happens when people with more money than the current residents of a neighborhood want to move there and the number of new units in the neighborhood is not sufficient to accommodate them. This development will have nearly 400 units. At this point, I don’t know that the number of well-off households interested in moving to the neighborhood exceeds 400. And potential movers will also have the option of Audubon Square, on the edge of downtown and the Salvatore development in the Hill.

posted by: BevHills730 on April 24, 2018  7:42am

Kevin,

I think 3/5s is and has consistently taken a longer term and more evidence-based perspective than you are taking.  Nationally we are in a housing crisis.  Just this week the NHI is reporting on massive lead poisoning in New Haven. Meanwhile developers build with the mantra: if you build it they will come.  These developments will inevitably change the long-term character of these neighborhoods.  Will families who have lived there for generations be able to raise their children there?  I’m not sure these questions should be brushed off.

posted by: challenge on April 24, 2018  9:17am

So McCarthy did I hear you correctly? Genrtification is about people who want to live in certain city and because they have more money they simply encourage developers to come in and take over that neighborhood.  Instead of development being about investing in improving the area for those who have lived there for decades it’s about pushing them out and accomodating those who have the capital to displace them. Thank you for your honesty in defining gentrification. Exactly as Threefifths has consistently stated forever while being dismissed. Carry on with the gentrification of New Haven with housing unaffordable for those who have made New Haven their home decades ago. Great city administration for allowing this. Peeing in our face and telling us it’s a cleansing rain.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on April 24, 2018  10:03am

@ BevHills730 and Challenge.Both of you have hit a homerun.

In fact Steve Mensing, Editor says it all when he wrote.
Gentrify This? The Dark Side of Gentrification

11/ 22, 2012

Gentrification, sometimes hiding behind the pleasant term “urban renewal”, results when wealthier individuals purchase or rent property in low-income and working class communities and alter the neighborhood, often driving up property taxes and housing values.  Most often associated with urban neighborhood change through the migration of more affluent persons into poorer neighborhoods, gentrification increases the average area income and frequently decreases average family size.  Poorer long-time residents (poor, elderly, working class, and minorities) are displaced due to their inability to afford increased property taxes, rising housing prices, and far higher rents brought on by gentrification.  Warehouses, industrial buildings and homes previously divided into apartment dwellings are renovated and converted into residences, condos, and high-end shops. In driving up property tax evaluations, housing values, and rents, the inner city is morphed into a suburb within a city.  The neighborhood’s social character changes, The elderly, the poor, and minority working class folks can’t carry their previously owned homes and apartments with them.Like the Indians of the Old West, long time residents are rudely shoved out of their native lands and forced to live in far less desirable areas.They take a major hit when gentrification moves in and they are forced out. Gentrification is not so hot if you are poor, elderly, a minority or working class struggling to make your mortgage payments.The profiteers political-economic elites, land developers, lending institutions. and even the Federal government could care less about the nameless-faceless former inhabitants push in to the path of gentrification’s killdozer

https://rowanfreepress.com/2012/11/22/gentrify-this-the-dark-side-of-gentrification/

posted by: Esbey on April 24, 2018  10:39am

This development isn’t displacing anyone, it is displacing a vacant heavily polluted lot.  No one lives there to be displaced.  Do folks seriously want to argue in favor of vacant polluted lots instead of housing for humans?  You like lead-filled polluted soil?  Dislike people who want to live in New Haven instead of the suburbs?  Dislike construction jobs and taxes to pay for schools? 

The rents here will have to be substantially lower than downtown because the neighborhood is much less desirable.  The rents will be higher than run-down places in the neighborhood, because the apartments are new. Sounds like middle-class housing to me. Rich people aren’t living at 201 Munson St., no way, sorry.

Today, people want to live in cities, including New Haven. If you stop new development in face of that demand pressure, developers and gentifiers will instead increase purchases of existing properties, fix them up and raise the rents even higher.  That’s direct displacement & it is what happens when you force rising demand into existing properties. It is how displacement happened in Greenwich Village, where new building are banned. It is the reason that poor families have been nearly 100% driven out of San Francisco, where most new housing is banned.

      *Restricting new development in the face of rising demand increases displacement*

posted by: 1644 on April 24, 2018  11:46am

3/5’s:  Actually,  area homeowners may benefit greatly from rising property values, as well as new development generally.  First, more, and more valuable, properties on the Grand List lessen the load that must be borne by existing property owners, so new development will restrain taxes on all existing properties in the city, at least so long as the new occupants do not need lots of expensive services.  This development looks like it’s primarily designed for singles and DINKS (one-bedrooms) who can afford to pay reasonable rent.  That means little demand for services like the Escape, Q-House, or even schools.  If neighborhood housing prices rise, area homeowners who have mortgaged their homes will either start to emerge from being “underwater” or see a growth in their equity.  In either case,  they may have opportunities to refinance at a lower rate.  Should taxes really go up, beyond the homeowners ability to pay, they can at least sell with a decent chunk of change in their pockets.  (This has happened many times along the shoreline where taxes on waterfront cottages owned by families for generations exceed their ability to pay as newcomers bid up prices.)
      Renters may have problems, but owners should be okay, although, as Esbey says, the worst thing fro housing prices is to restrict supply.

posted by: LookOut on April 24, 2018  12:17pm

@Esbey - home run of an answer.  I can’t understand the argument that we would be better of with a vacant and polluted lot than with middle class housing built with local labor.  For those that want to be in a city where no one is moving in, there are plenty of open spots in Waterbury.

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on April 24, 2018  12:42pm

BevHills730, thanks - I think we agree on a number of points. The Munson Street development will definitely change the character of the neighborhood. It may displace current residents in the longer term, and this would cause real pain. But at this point, I don’t think there are thousands of well-off people who want to move to New Haven.  And I think more potential movers will choose Audubon Square, which will be about the same size as this project and is closer to downtown.

Apart from gentrification, there is a real crisis of housing affordability in much of the country, including New Haven. Many low, moderate, and middle-income people are paying an unsustainable share of their income on rent. But this is happening in areas that are not remotely gentrifying, including areas that are shrinking. Projects like Munson Street and Audubon Square will not help with this problem anytime soon.

Challenge, if you re-read my post, you will notice that the subject of the second sentence is “displacement” not “gentrification.” Gentrification can definitely result in displacement, but this is not always the case. In East Rock, the Corsair Apartments brought in an influx of well-to-do residents. I have seen no evidence that it has displaced the low and moderate income who live nearby, e.g., in Cedar Hill. Clearly, this can change over time, but that development has been open a couple of years, and Cedar Hilll does not look anything like St. Ronan Street.

posted by: HewNaven on April 24, 2018  3:58pm

I’m guessing rent will be around $3000/month

posted by: anonymous on April 24, 2018  4:32pm

There is a market for units like these, or developers wouldn’t be building them.  $3,000 per month is $36K per year.  That is considered affordable to the 3,000 or so people who move to the City of New Haven every year with individual incomes of $50,000 or above (equivalent to $100,000 for a 2-person household).

If they don’t build these types of units, then the people moving here who get $50K+ paychecks will just move into the city’s existing housing stock.  Ultimately, that is what would displace current residents, who earn a median income of $22K (equivalent to ~$40K for a 2-person household) citywide, and probably lower than that in the areas bordering downtown where housing demand is higher.  This is what is happening so rapidly in places such as San Francisco.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on April 24, 2018  4:52pm

posted by: Esbey on April 24, 2018 10:39am
  *Restricting new development in the face of rising demand increases displacement*

And the rents that these developments will charge will cause displacement.

Today, people want to live in cities, including New Haven. If you stop new development in face of that demand pressure, developers and gentifiers will instead increase purchases of existing properties, fix them up and raise the rents even higher.  That’s direct displacement & it is what happens when you force rising demand into existing properties. It is how displacement happened in Greenwich Village, where new building are banned. It is the reason that poor families have been nearly 100% driven out of San Francisco, where most new housing is banned.

You must not be From New York.I am.This is what happen to in Greenwich Village, and San Francisco.
The New York That Belonged to the City

  Laura Bliss

Aug 17, 2017

Hyper-gentrification turned renegade Manhattan into plasticine playground. Can the city find its soul again?

Spinning his digital jeremiad into paper, Moss charts the waves of gentrification that turned an iconoclastic Manhattan into plasticine playground. Where immigrants, minorities, radicals, queers, runaways, and everyday workers once built an island of tolerance, grit, and creative verve, Moss shows that tourists, college bros, and the superrich now occupy a bland-ified fortress of consumption. But the book is much more than a nostalgia trip. Moving across the boroughs, Moss traces the racist, money-hungry “real estate magnates, financiers, planners, and politicians” who sent immigrants packing and kept down minorities in the twentieth century.
Part One.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on April 24, 2018  4:57pm

posted by: 1644 on April 24, 2018 11:46am
3/5’s:  Actually,  area homeowners may benefit greatly from rising property values,

And with those rising property values.Come the higher property taxes that most will not be able to pay.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on April 24, 2018  5:12pm

posted by: anonymous on April 24, 2018 4:32pm

If they don’t build these types of units, then the people moving here who get $50K+ paychecks will just move into the city’s existing housing stock.  Ultimately, that is what would displace current residents, who earn a median income of $22K (equivalent to ~$40K for a 2-person household) citywide, and probably lower than that in the areas bordering downtown where housing demand is higher.  This is what is happening so rapidly in places such as San Francisco.

Correct. In fact Read aboutThe Google Shuttle Effect on San Francisco,Notice how the rents shot up.

Alexandra Goldman’s “The Google Shuttle Effect” chronicles how the rise of the corporate shuttles over the last three years has coincided with almost a tripling of Ellis Act Evictions and how rents of apartments within walking distance of the shuttle stops have gone up

https://svenworld.com/the-google-shuttle-effect-on-san-francisco/

And this is what happen in New York City.

The New York That Belonged to the City

  Laura Bliss

Aug 17, 2017

Hyper-gentrification turned renegade Manhattan into plasticine playground. Can the city find its soul again?

Moss charts the waves of gentrification that turned an iconoclastic Manhattan into plasticine playground.  Moss shows that tourists, college bros, and the superrich now occupy a bland-ified fortress of consumptionWidespread, purpose-built gentrification began in earnest in the 1980s, with Mayor Ed Koch’s business-friendly “renewal” policies driving out low-rent pickle shops, tenements, Michael Bloomberg who served hyper-gentrification’s kiss of death. Bloomberg rezoned an incredible 40 percent of the city and demolished nearly 25,000 buildings in a quest for wealth-oriented redevelopment,Bloomberg above all, Moss declares, was how New York became a city of absent oligarchs, super-talls, and poor doors.

https://www.citylab.com/life/2017/08/vanishing-new-york-gentrification/537126/

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on April 24, 2018  5:16pm

Part Two is on my post with what I wrote to anonymous.Esbey do you think the people of Church Street are coming back?If then do not.They would you not call that displacemen?

posted by: challenge on April 24, 2018  7:04pm

Come on the argument is not to leave an empty lot erected in the community. The argument is to use that property to provide beautiful apartments to low income people who might otherwise remain trapped in deplorable housing units or homeless. Development should not always be about accomodating people with money.

posted by: Bill Saunders on April 24, 2018  7:51pm

1644,

Here are some real ‘tax economics for you.

Homeowners of The City will receive (overall)  a benefit because of the Grand list growth being spread over a large populace.
However, homeowners in the Munson Street Development Corridor will see excessive ‘pocket’ growth that will certainly drive long-term residents out due to the current property tax system.

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on April 24, 2018  8:52pm

Challenge, there is a real need for housing that is affordable to low-income households, which this project will do little to address. The question is how do you pay for it. The private market clearly is not building such housing. The city and state are facing severe budget deficits and the Trump Administration is hopeless. You might suggest taxing Yale or raising taxes on the well-to-do. I’m fine with both, but doing so will require changes in state law. The votes are not there and I’m not optimistic that they will be there anytime soon. I don’t bet; if I did, I would bet CT elects a Republican governor.

posted by: LookOut on April 25, 2018  6:10am

need to bring some reality to a couple of posts:

anonymous wrote:  $3000 a month is affordable to those making $50K+ a year…really?  Let’s say I make $60K.  If I am very lucky, I’m paying 20% fed tax and 5% to CT.  That adds up to $15K and leaves me with $45K take home.  If my rent is $36K/year, I have 9K left or $750/month for utilities, insurance, food, Obamacare, transportation…etc.  Not realistic.

challenge wrote ” Development should not always be about accommodating people with money.”  Well, it takes money to make development happen.  In the real world, that means that someone has to pay.  Unless there is someone who just wants to generously throw away the tens of millions of dollars it takes to build a housing complex, a developer must focus on renters who are going to generate a payback.

And public housing - although nice in concept - is proving to be a money pit.  Billions of dollars go in but by the time the bureaucrats, the well connected, and the renters who game the system have each taken their slices, there is virtually nothing left for those in need.  We are then left with rapidly decaying buildings that are unseemly, unsafe, and bring down entire neighborhoods.  (Elm Haven, Church St South, Brookside….to name just a few off the top of my head)

posted by: anonymous on April 26, 2018  10:50am

LookOut: Of course. Re-read what I wrote. I should have specified that any $3,000/month apartments are likely 2BRs or 3BRs. They could be shared by 2-3 of the thousands of people who move to the city each year that earn $50K+ as individuals.