Developer Wants To Build On Bus-Stop Park

Paul Bass PhotoA downtown property owner has his eye on a controversial public space near the corner of Chapel and Orange, with hopes of putting a new building there.

Paul Denz already owns the currently vacant three-story commercial building right at the corner (pictured) at 808 Chapel. He has asked the city if he can buy the adjacent mini-park lot so he can erect a new mid-sized apartment building with a first-floor storefront.

Erik Johnson, chief of City Hall’s Livable City Initiative (LCI) chief, said Denz’s request is under discussion.

“We have not had significant conversations about next steps,” Johnson said. He said the question of whether to put the property up for competitive proposals has not arisen yet.

Denz neglected to respond to repeated requests for comment for this story.

Through his Corner Block Development LLC, he purchased 808 Chapel in 2012 for $300,000; at the time the city’s building official had deemed it unsafe and ordered it demolished. The order has since been rescinded pending completion of some interior work, according to Acting Building Official Daniel O’Neill.

The building would probably come down as part of the project if Denz succeeds in convincing the city to sell him the adjoining lot. A single new four-story building, with apartments above and retail on the first floor, would go up on the two newly combined properties.

In general, the city has promoted the idea of building more downtown housing. And the vacant lot next to Denz’s building has caused controversy in the Ninth Square district.

Lots of people hang out there, many waiting to catch buses. It’s a major transfer station for east-bound buses that formerly stopped on the Green. Johnson said discussions on whether to sell the site must include future plans for bus connections.

The lot has seen its share of crime, including this recent incident. Some of the people hanging out there have nowhere else to go during the day; some drink there. After neighboring businesses complained about it becoming a pissoir, a fence went up on part of the land. Artspace sometimes stages public-art shows on the back portion, like this mini-golf exhibit.

Some of the park’s regulars said they’d like to keep it the way it is.

“I don’t think they should build it,” said Eric Jordan, a carpenter out of work on disability who sat on a bench one recent afternoon as he waited to catch a D or Q bus to Fair Haven. “People come here to gather. Senior citizens. Homeless people. People getting off work.” They need a place that’s “more mellow” than the Green, where too many fights break out, Jordan said.

“I saw six fights the other day” on the Green, piped up Arkell Pierce, a New haven high-school senior who spends 15-20 minutes a day in the park waiting to make the connection between two buses to get home from school.

Another park regular, Brian Tyson, offered a different view on the building plan as he waited for the D bus: “That’d be nice,” an improvement for the spot. Another park regular next to him (who declined to be identified) agreed: “Somebody’s got to do something. But what are they going to do about the rats?”

“See that black box?” the regular added, pointing to the ground next to a side wall on Denz’s corner building. “That’s a rat box,” stocked with poison for the critters to bring back to their nests. Would they too have to find a new hangout if the city says yes to Denz?

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posted by: DrFeelgood on June 20, 2014  4:33pm

Why is this even up for discussion?  This should be done asap as well as the property one building down that was destroyed by a fire.  More apartments and new street front retail will help this area significantly.  It is not a very pleasant scene walking by there the way it is today.

posted by: anonymous on June 20, 2014  4:38pm

1. If you widen the sidewalk and narrow the street, there would be plenty of space for pedestrians and bus riders to linger on this block, similar to what Schiavone did along Chapel Street across from Yale.  This would be even easier to do on the other side of Orange Street, where Chapel was widened by 6-8 feet during urban renewal in the 1960s.

2. Before selling the parcel to Denz, the City should consider what would happen if a developer assembled the entire parcel between Church, Center, Orange, and Chapel, excluding the row of buildings along Church.  One of the 2-story buildings there houses a professional services firm, but would be relatively easy to purchase. 

Assembling this entire block as a single parcel would allow for the creation of a much larger structure, similar to or even larger than 360 State Street, and could allow for even more public space, including an alley or new city street to the new Coliseum Site (through the parking lots behind 55 Church and One Church), and a wider sidewalk. 

Cutting these city blocks up into smaller blocks, similar to the block between Temple, Crown, College, and Chapel, would make them far more valuable by allowing more street frontage.

posted by: BillSaunders1 on June 20, 2014  5:05pm

DO IT!!!!

posted by: Jones Gore on June 21, 2014  1:58am

Sell it and build on it . You have rats with four legs and two legs congregating over there.

posted by: Bradley on June 21, 2014  6:20am

I agree with Anonymous on his first point, but have a couple caveats on the second. In light of the development pressures downtown, it may be difficult for a developer to privately assemble a larger parcel as current owners will probably hold out for serious money. The city could use its eminent domain powers, but that would be highly controversial. In addition, the public spaces created under such developments are often poorly designed and underutilized. There are plenty of plazas in New York that were developed in exchange for relaxation of height limits that provide little benefit to the public.

posted by: Brian Tang on June 21, 2014  7:40am

I am troubled by the sentiment, apparently widespread among well-off people, that it is acceptable to call for less well-off people to be excluded in numerous ways from the public realm. I find that the bus stops bring together and make visible the true range of diversity in our city in a way that no other public space in New Haven accomplishes. We should celebrate this, not seek to dismantle it.

posted by: Jones Gore on June 21, 2014  1:12pm

@Brian Tang, no one is talking about dismantling the bus stop. Even if a building is built there you will still have a bus stop there just as there was one there when a building stood there years ago.

posted by: quinn127 on June 21, 2014  1:28pm

i Agree that a Building should be built on the Park Space. i Thought they should’ve built a building there years ago, But i Disagree on the size of the Building. The Building should be much taller than four-stories. An Apartment or Office Building would be nice, and i also agree on there being a storefront on the ground floor. i feel that developments like this would be better for the city. Projects like this will definitely attract more people that want to work here and live here. It’s really great thing for new haven, and I’m proud to see it grow and expand like this.

posted by: longlivenewhaven on June 22, 2014  9:43am

I vote build!!!!

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on June 22, 2014  10:52am

posted by: Brian Tang on June 21, 2014 7:40am

I am troubled by the sentiment, apparently widespread among well-off people, that it is acceptable to call for less well-off people to be excluded in numerous ways from the public realm. I find that the bus stops bring together and make visible the true range of diversity in our city in a way that no other public space in New Haven accomplishes. We should celebrate this, not seek to dismantle it.

I agree.Like I said this is going on arcoss this country.Look at what the gentrification vampires are doing on the Lower East Side in New York.

My Lower East Side

By AMY CHOZICKJUNE 20, 2014 Estate&region=Footer&module=MoreInSection&pgtype=article#

posted by: BillSaunders1 on June 22, 2014  3:55pm

Three Fifths,

In this case—in a battle between ‘gentrification vampires’ and a crappy, uninspired ‘public art’ part, I pick the vampires

posted by: RhyminTyman on June 23, 2014  10:05am

This space is a bit of hazard. There should be something there and factor in he wants to tear down an abandon building it is even better. This goes a long way of removing the remaining blight on what should be the most desirable part of the city. I just wish it could be higher and we could be promised actually retail not more dinning.

posted by: RhyminTyman on June 23, 2014  10:59am

3/5 quit posting lies and destortions. We have been through that Daily Kos article before. 80% are not near poverty.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on June 23, 2014  12:40pm

posted by: RhyminTyman on June 23, 2014 10:59am

3/5 quit posting lies and destortions. We have been through that Daily Kos article before. 80% are not near poverty.

So are you saying 4 in 5 in USA face near-poverty, no work is not true.
Waht does 4 and 5 add up to.

our out of 5 U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives, a sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream.

Survey data exclusive to The Associated Press points to an increasingly globalized U.S. economy, the widening gap between rich and poor, and the loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs as reasons for the trend.

3/5 quit posting lies and destortions.

For real Ask these people.

In the U.S. 49.7 Million Are Now Poor, and 80% of the Total Population Is Near Poverty

A Profile of the Working Poor.

So if thst is a lie.Can you tell me how many are in near poverty.

My bad.I forgot about this.

Hungry, tired and stressed out

From going to bed hungry to running from debt collectors, the nation’s poorest are stressed out in ways most of us can’t imagine.

posted by: robn on June 23, 2014  1:04pm


Stop lying or stop posting. ALL of your links point back to the same distorted article which spotlights an AP sentiment poll, not statistics. Buried at the bottom of the article is the accurate US census figure for Americans living in poverty and that is 15%. FYI those living near poverty is about another 6%.

NHI, where is the spike for flagrantly counterfactual postings?

posted by: RhyminTyman on June 23, 2014  1:37pm

3/5 losing a job and temporary of out work (typically less than 6 months) is not near poverty. You have basically admit you sensationalism the near poverty by expanding what the 80% actually covered. If 49 million are poor that means 301 million aren’t. Your number don’t adding and you are switching focuses. So in other words you have admitted you are wrong.  I am just really surprised after taking a beating last time you have the gall to post that article again.

Your biggest flaw isn’t the lack of a cogent point and unwillingness to critically think but rather utter refuse to suggest a viable alternative. Remember New Haven houses more than just poor people.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on June 23, 2014  4:00pm

“Developer Wants To Build On Bus-Stop Park”

“Developer Wants To Build On Building Lot That Has Been Used As A Temporary Bus-Stop Park For Several Years”

“Developer Wants To Build On Former Phoenix Building Lot”

“Developer Wants To Demolish A National Register of Historic Places Contributing Building in Ninth Square”

I support the construction of new building on the site, but would prefer to see the existing building on the corner rehabilitated. A setback, curb bump-out, or relocation would solve the bus-stop issue very easily.