Sections

Neighborhoods

Features

Follow Us

NHI Newsletter

Some Favorite Sites

Government/ Community Links

Garage Will Become Apartments

by Gilad Edelman | Feb 18, 2014 1:00 pm

(38) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: Business/ Economic Development, Housing, Downtown

Gilad Edelman Photo A dilapidated parking garage at the corner of Crown and High is about to undergo a makeover—and a growth spurt.

The Board of Zoning Appeals last week granted variances to allow developer Metro Star Properties to expand and add two stories to the three-story, 30,030 square-foot circa 1920 building at 280 Crown St., which for decades has housed a parking garage. The renovated building (a couple of doors down from a different, more celebrated garage) will contain 24 residential units as well as commercial space on the ground floor.

Robert Smith, the head of Metro Star, spoke at last week’s zoning meeting. He said 280 Crown, which also houses S’Wings restaurant on the ground floor, hasn’t been renovated in 50 years.

“The project is potentially transformational for this particular area,” he added.

“Look at what it looks like now,” said architect Sam Gardner (pictured) of the New Haven firm Gregg Wies & Gardner. “It’s kind of in rough shape.” The renovation will improve the brick veneer, which he said is falling apart after “many, many years of salt and water.” The two new stories will be set back to create outdoor terraces.

The new project, which won a recommendation from the City Plan Commission, will take advantage of the property’s parking garage heritage, reserving 15 underground parking spaces for future tenants.

Share this story with others.

Share |

Post a Comment

Comments

posted by: TheMadcap on February 18, 2014  1:16pm

A parking garage becoming apartments? Nice. That whole block is going to have substantially more people living there with the new apartment building being built at the corner of College and George.

Of course though these along with most new apartments being built in the city are out of the price range of the good deal of us.

posted by: alex on February 18, 2014  1:30pm

Awesome! Those will be expensive apartments producing revenue for the city.

posted by: A Contrarian on February 18, 2014  1:42pm

Given that rendering, I much prefer “before” to “after.”

posted by: Threefifths on February 18, 2014  1:55pm

People wake up.You are being sold out to Gentrification.Get ready for elite-dominated urbanism like harlem.

posted by: anonymous on February 18, 2014  3:08pm

New apartments are almost always too expensive for most people.

As more apartments come on line, the ones that were built 10-20 years ago will become relatively cheaper.

Look at the houses in the Sherman Avenue area. They were once considered to be state-of-the-art homes for elites. Now they are affordable for many young families.  The same will happen as we add another 50,000 housing units to our downtown area in the coming years.

Barring a massive increase in statewide and national funds for affordable housing—funds which are being dramatically slashed back under Obama & the GOP—the main alternative to building higher-cost new housing is to build absolutely nothing anywhere near anybody (aka, B.A.N.A.N.A.). 

If you do take the latter route, then everything will get more expensive, and your economy and tax base will suffer.

In the long run, if we want to see larger change, we might want to begin hold our elected officials accountable for changing policies so that more affordable housing units are produced.  But nobody is willing to do that - our local “leaders” are too worried about who will serve on their DTC committee.  The DTC holds celebratory press conferences when our Coliseum Site developer requires $70 million in public funds and then agrees to include 15 affordable units for families.

posted by: ILivehere on February 18, 2014  3:46pm

I don’t understand why everyone is hating on new apartments. Gentrification is and always has been the goal not the enemy. Downtown should be the high rent district. If you want cheap live anywhere else in the city. leave Downtown, East Rock, and Wooster square to the people who make more then 65k a year. You don’t see and wouldn’t expect New York to force apartment buildings on central park to include section 8.

posted by: robn on February 18, 2014  3:51pm

Great idea. Weak execution.

posted by: Dwightstreeter on February 18, 2014  4:32pm

An architect did that???!!

posted by: A Contrarian on February 18, 2014  4:33pm

ILivehere:  Gentrification good, Uglification bad.  I lived across the street and thought the garage would make a great loft conversion with wonderful brickwork & detail.  An addition need not be so insensitive to the original structure as well as to the other side of Crown and the next block of High.

posted by: robn on February 18, 2014  4:54pm

DS,

The architect didn’t do that for you…he did it to you.

posted by: DrFeelgood on February 18, 2014  5:48pm

Love this idea, it is about time.  ILivehere is right on.  Will only help downtown and the businesses around it.  Gentrifying downtown is what needs to happen if you want people to live and work in the city and feel safe.

posted by: Threefifths on February 18, 2014  6:25pm

@ ILivehere
Gentrification doesn’t trickle down to help everyone.It’s no secret that today’s big cities are massively unequal, and gentrification is now the predominant form of neighborhood development.In countless urban districts across this country,affordable housing is on the decline and displacement is on the rise.You say New York.Check this out.

It’s Not About Yuppies Anymore: Gentrification Has Changed and So Has New York.

http://observer.com/2014/02/its-not-about-yuppies-anymore-gentrification-has-changed-and-so-has-new-york/

posted by: Cliffoney on February 18, 2014  9:55pm

Isn’t this the same New York that you tout as being the example we need for transportation, economic development, walk ability, etc.  Now you get to say it’s the enemy because it fit in your everything is wrong here agenda? I thought you were all for a dense downtown, now we are not suppose to build anything, because that’s going to be better for the economy?  Come on!  I think it looks great.  Can wait to see this area activated.

posted by: MatthewNemerson on February 18, 2014  11:33pm

Wow, I though we finally had “anonymous” with us for a change but we seemed to we lost you in the last few lines…

Fact check: the Coliseum site developers are looking for the city (through HANH and the state) to help fill the gap in funding for them to build the required 20% of 370 apartments or 74 affordable units in the first phase. We are still discussing how much that should cost us. 

Developers set the “market” price at what gives their investors the return it takes to have them build. If we ask them to rent or sell some units below the market and below the return it takes to attract investors for those units then we have to step in as “investors.” That’s good public policy if we want people to build here.

As ILivehere points out, the cities that limit growth of market rate apartments (NYC in the 1960s to 1990s and SF for decades) have very high rents.

If we want to have more affordable apartments in town we should encourage even more market rate units to be built.

The trick is actually to not drive down the cost of existing units too much by having too much new supply (or, ironically too much new supply that is so affordable that people move out of existing older units) and, therefore, making it impossible for our current landlords to make enough money to keep their units maintained and attractive. 

Looking forward to a lively debate about all of this!

posted by: Bradley on February 19, 2014  7:41am

ThreeFifths, you and I are old enough to recall the initial debate about gentrification, which often involved converting housing for poor and working class people to condos and apartments for yuppies. That is not happening here - all of the New Haven developments that are in the pipeline are conversions of nonresidential buildings or empty lots. Nor is the phenomenon described in the Observer article likely to happen here; the New Haven area simply does not have that many rich (as distinct from upper-middle class) people.

ILivehere, you are correct that there are very few affordable apartments on Central Park. But there are large public housing complexes in neighborhoods like Chelsea and TriBeCa, which aren’t too shabby. Moreover, I suspect that Mayor DeBlasio will be successful in requiring housing developers to include affordable units in their new projects.

posted by: jim1 on February 19, 2014  8:54am

Five floors and 24 units!!  What will the rents be?  And how soon will it turn into condos.. What is the size of most units?

posted by: anonymous on February 19, 2014  9:34am

MatthewNemerson, the “facts” would depend on your definition of “affordable” for a New Haven resident.  The affordability guidelines in most of your 20% are set by the region, where a typical family makes near $80,000 to 90,000 per year.  A typical New Haven family makes much less than that. 

It’s great the developer will include a tiny handful - a dozen or so - truly affordable units - at cost of $70 million, at least, in public money to rebuild the highway. 

Not to say it’s a bad project, just that the party bosses should have asked for more of an ROI if they claim to represent people who live here.

posted by: HewNaven on February 19, 2014  1:09pm

I think what might be useful for this debate is to share the official definitions of “affordable” and “market-rate” and then to add your own definitions of those terms, if necessary. That may alleviate some confusion about what is deemed “affordable” or “market-rate”. If it’s measured by regional income, as anonymous says, then that’s big trouble for New Haven residents. We all know there’s a stark contrast between regional vs. city demographics.

That said, I do think we have at least similar goals:

1. Don’t force people out of their current dwellings
2. Find ways to attract new residents
3. Incentivize stewardship and improvement of the existing housing stock

posted by: anonymous on February 19, 2014  2:02pm

HewNaven:

See http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/live_work_learn_play_by_the_numbers/

“20: Percentage of those apartments that will be “affordable,” meaning restricted to “low income and workforce households with household incomes between 50 and 120 percent of the Area Median Income.” At least 10 percent of the affordable apartments would have two or three bedrooms. No more than 50 percent of the apartments on any one floor would be affordable. The city would work with the developer to secure 19 units of project-based Section 8 vouchers and $1.5 million in capital fund from the New Haven housing authority.”

The “Area Median Income” is the median income for the metropolitan region, not for the City of New Haven. The tables are complicated, but Area Median Income is somewhere around $80,000 per year. So, what counts as “affordable” is based mostly on what suburban families earn, not what New Haven residents earn.  If “affordability” is based on 120% of Area Median Income, that means that rents are set at what is considered affordable for a family earning around $100K per year.  If it’s 80% of AMI, then rents are set at what is considered affordable for families making around $60K per year, i.e. roughly $1300-$1700/mo for a 2BR.

That said, this so-called “workforce housing” is certainly better than nothing.  For the 20% “affordable,” there will be a very wide range of price points if they are targeting 50-120% AMI plus the 19 project-based Section 8 units.  But will more than a handful of these be affordable to City of New Haven residents, where the median income for a family of four is around $40-45K? You decide.

posted by: Threefifths on February 19, 2014  6:31pm

posted by: Bradley on February 19, 2014 6:41am
ThreeFifths, you and I are old enough to recall the initial debate about gentrification, which often involved converting housing for poor and working class people to condos and apartments for yuppies. That is not happening here - all of the New Haven developments that are in the pipeline are conversions of nonresidential buildings or empty lots. Nor is the phenomenon described in the Observer article likely to happen here; the New Haven area simply does not have that many rich (as distinct from upper-middle class) people.

Not true it is happing.I speak to people downtown.They are moving out or geting room mates to help foot the rent.Have you seen the rents for Downtown.let’s be clear what gentrifcation is.Gentrifcation is when neighborhoods change in ways that force many longtime residents and businesses to move out because land prices and rents have skyrocketed overnight. “Different” people arrive in large numbers, and the big difference is that these newcomers are much wealthier and more powerful (they may or may not have a different skin color or ethnicity). With them comes the money to improve housing and the physical environment, often creating improvements that the past residents fought hard for but could not afford to do or lacked the political power to secure. Gentrifcation means wiping out the social history of an existing community or turning that history into a hip, marketable cliché. With gentrifcation, the people who are displaced disappear into the vast metropolis; governments and our leading institutions care not what happens to them or where they go, while signifcant public resources are provided to help make life better for the gentrifers. Gentrifcation is not placemaking but place-taking.

posted by: Threefifths on February 19, 2014  6:48pm

posted by: Bradley on February 19, 2014 6:41am

ILivehere, you are correct that there are very few affordable apartments on Central Park. But there are large public housing complexes in neighborhoods like Chelsea and TriBeCa, which aren’t too shabby. Moreover, I suspect that Mayor DeBlasio will be successful in requiring housing developers to include affordable units in their new projects.

And apartments here in Connecticut,Rents are going high sky.The good thing about New York is they have this.Connecticut does not.

New York has Rent Control and Rent Stabilization.

http://www.nycrgb.org/html/resources/faq/rentcontrol.html

My bad. I forgot New York also has the Mitchell-Lama program which provides affordable rental and cooperative housing to moderate- and middle-income families.

http://www.nyc.gov/html/housinginfo/html/apartments/apt_rental_mitchell-lama.shtml

posted by: ILivehere on February 19, 2014  8:58pm

Threefifths, that makes no sense at all. If you own your home and the area becomes more upscale the grand list would go up and your taxes down. How then would people get forced out of there property.

In any case if people want “affordable” housing they should look to Fairhaven, The Hill or Dwight. Let Downtown grow the grand list lower everyone’s taxes and then spread to the outer areas lowering crime and increasing quality of life.

I’d like to buy a Porsche but I don’t expect the dealer to sell me one at a loss because I cant afford it. That’s exactly what we ask of developers when we talk about “affordable” and low income housing. That ruins buildings looks at residence at the ninth square for proof.

posted by: Threefifths on February 19, 2014  11:00pm

posted by: ILivehere on February 19, 2014 7:58pm
Threefifths, that makes no sense at all. If you own your home and the area becomes more upscale the grand list would go up and your taxes down. How then would people get forced out of there property.

Once the rich people move in and improve the
aesthetic conditions of the neighborhood the original residents, who eventually are
unable to keep up with tax costs are forced out of there property.

In any case if people want “affordable” housing they should look to Fairhaven, The Hill or Dwight. Let Downtown grow the grand list lower everyone’s taxes and then spread to the outer areas lowering crime and increasing quality of life.

Ii will not be long before all of them will be hit by Gentrification.Keep a eye on southstreet projects.

posted by: ILivehere on February 20, 2014  10:45am

@Threefifths that’s right it will spread, again that’s the goal. Once it spreads crime will drop by 75%, schools will go from a 3 out of 10 to a 7 out of 10, taxs will drop by 25% because the grand list will go up, unemployment in the city will drop dramatically. All because we embraced gentrification.

And to your point of people not being able to afford there taxes because of rising property values. That sounds like a wonderful problem to have. The value of peoples homes would double and the wouldn’t have to lift a finger and if they didn’t want to move the could simply get a home equity loan or a reverse mortgage. At that point a 1/2 million dollar home would have taxes of about 6K so it wouldn’t be a big deal to pull 3k out of your home that has gone up in value by several 100k.

posted by: robn on February 20, 2014  11:21am

Negligent property owners who don’t lift a finger to maintain their property in “bad” neighborhoods are taking nearly the same rents as owners in “good” neighborhoods who work really hard to maintain their properties.
The result is, renters at the low end of a tight range of rents get screwed with poorly maintained dwellings, owners who maintain their properties get punished for good behavior via high assessments and taxes, and negligent owners get rewarded with low assessments and low taxes.
There’s a fundamental flaw in the property tax system in that it rewards bad behavior. This is made extreme by high occupancy because negligent owners can charge what they want and get away with bad behavior. More housing volume would help renters by giving them more choice and force ill-intentioned owners to improve their properties or lose tenants.

posted by: Threefifths on February 20, 2014  11:43am

posted by: ILivehere on February 20, 2014 9:45am

@Threefifths that’s right it will spread, again that’s the goal. Once it spreads crime will drop by 75%, schools will go from a 3 out of 10 to a 7 out of 10, taxs will drop by 25% because the grand list will go up, unemployment in the city will drop dramatically. All because we embraced gentrification.

Gentrification Will Reduce Crime and Violence, But Only if Poor People Stay.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-roman-phd/gentrification-will-reduc_b_4296151.html

And to your point of people not being able to afford there taxes because of rising property values. That sounds like a wonderful problem to have. The value of peoples homes would double and the wouldn’t have to lift a finger and if they didn’t want to move the could simply get a home equity loan or a reverse mortgage. At that point a 1/2 million dollar home would have taxes of about 6K so it wouldn’t be a big deal to pull 3k out of your home that has gone up in value by several 100k.

Have you seen the tax bill for home ownners of New Haven.

posted by: ILivehere on February 20, 2014  12:44pm

@Threefifths that article assumes the same ratio of poor to wealthy people in a given area so it makes no sense at all.

Yes I personally pay over $35,000 a year in property taxes so I have a firm handle on 40 mil rate but if property values go up the mil rate comes down.

posted by: robn on February 20, 2014  2:05pm

The Brooking Institute study is petitio principia; self-reinforcing hogwash. What it’s trying to prove is amongst its logical premises (prosperous neighborhoods have a low chance of criminal infection and therefore, they have a low chance of criminal infection).

posted by: robn on February 20, 2014  3:10pm

3/5,

Drawing equity out of your home for anything that doesn’t offset the interest one is paying on the loan is about the dumbest thing people can do. Like MAYBE home improvement could be justified (kitchen or bath renovation which might be recoverable if done prior to a sale), but using it to pay unreasonably high taxes and considering it a windfall? C’mon.

posted by: ILivehere on February 20, 2014  3:21pm

@ robn
I don’t see it as ridiculous. If a 65 year old who’s been in there home for 35 years who owns it free and clear wants to take a few thousand out per year to pay taxes so they can stay in the home where they raised there kids. The reality is the home would appreciate more per year then the tax payment. So what’s the big deal? Why are new counter tops and appliances that would depreciate in value a better reason to take out a loan?

posted by: robn on February 20, 2014  4:21pm

ILIVEHERE,

Your reality must be different from mine. A classic rise in inflation adjusted house prices over 5 years is less than 10%. My NH taxes jumped 80% in the first five years I owned my house.

posted by: ILivehere on February 20, 2014  5:04pm

@ robn
Yes we all know the last 7 years or so has been bad for housing prices. My place has lost about 20% - 25 % of its value but from 2000 - 2006 my previous residence grew by 100% so it all balances out.

In any case I’m not talking about the previous decade we are talking about a fictional future in which we have gentrified new haven and home prices in say the Dwight neighborhood have doubled or tripled. Its not that hard to image given that a 2500 sq ft house in Dwight can go for 90k - 100k. Look at comparable homes in east rock. They would go for 300k on the first day they were listed.

posted by: Threefifths on February 20, 2014  5:29pm

posted by: robn on February 20, 2014 2:10pm
3/5,

Drawing equity out of your home for anything that doesn’t offset the interest one is paying on the loan is about the dumbest thing people can do. Like MAYBE home improvement could be justified (kitchen or bath renovation which might be recoverable if done prior to a sale), but using it to pay unreasonably high taxes and considering it a windfall? C’mon.

Your bad. Show me in my post were I said the above.Read it again.I livehere said this.

posted by: ILivehere on February 19, 2014 7:58pm

And to your point of people not being able to afford there taxes because of rising property values. That sounds like a wonderful problem to have. The value of peoples homes would double and the wouldn’t have to lift a finger and if they didn’t want to move the could simply get a home equity loan or a reverse mortgage. At that point a 1/2 million dollar home would have taxes of about 6K so it wouldn’t be a big deal to pull 3k out of your home that has gone up in value by several 100k

Even though housing values have gone up in most americans have near record low equity in their homes.Also most houses are under water.

posted by: robn on February 20, 2014  5:47pm

ILH,

I doesn’t “all balance out”. Your profit metric is based upon a housing bubble of unprecedented proportions. Take a look at the first diagram on this page and you’ll begin to understand.

http://www.jparsons.net/housingbubble/

The bubble and burst dramatically shifted tax burden in this city which has unusually heterogeneous home values. Instead of lowering the budget to ease the burden shift, City Hall told middle class taxpayers to “suck it up” and let thousands of negligent absentee landlords off the hook.

posted by: tanel on February 20, 2014  6:14pm

I agree with A Contrarian, the after rendering is a disgrace to the current facade of this building. This garage, although not listed in any historic register that I know of, incorporates one of the earliest designs for split level parking garages in the United States and is possibly one of the oldest garages of this type still standing. The oldest garage of this type was demolished in Chicago a few years ago. Its art deco exterior design was compromised some years ago when the front windows were replaced with iron grates, and the brick headers were re-installed wrong. I believe the exterior of this building should return to its original design concept and any addition to the upper levels should incorporate the same art deco motif.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on February 21, 2014  12:42pm

280 Chapel Street is a contributing property in the Chapel Street Historic Distict, which is on the State Register of Historic Places. It was designed by the renowned New Haven-based firm of Brown & Von Beren in 1925. This is the same firm that designed the former Hill Cooperative Youth Services center in Trowbridge Square (check out the brickwork http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/church_without_walls_wants_some/).

It would be appropriate to restore the Crown and High Street facades while providing the necessary envelope for a residential building conversion (insulation, windows, etc.). The appearance of the addition, so long as it is setback, doesn’t really matter. An art deco-inspired design would be great, but ultimately that isn’t necessary.

The Nine Squares need more housing desparately, particularly in this area, which is close to Route 34 and George Street so that they can help counteract the edge city that exists in the Route 34/Medical District. While in the long term, the Nine Squares should provide a mix of housing aimed at a cross-section of the entire region - families, singles, retired couples, elderly, young, poor, middle class, wealthy, etc. - the immediate need is for housing for people that will work at developments like 100 College Street so that commuting can be reduced.

posted by: robn on February 21, 2014  12:51pm

TANEL is right about the historic significance. One of the first known ramped garages was a 2 story one at Fenway, Boston but the idea of a repeated split level diagram is attributed to Fernand D’Humy in 1917 (patented in 1919). This idea wasn’t published in Architectural Forum until late 1921, so the New Haven garage (if really done in 1920) was on the cutting edge.

posted by: A Contrarian on February 21, 2014  12:59pm

I’d forgotten that 280 Crown was by Brown & Von Beren.  Well, in those days, even modest projects were beautifully done, as this garage and the Trowbridge Square building demonstrate.  Think the addition shouldn’t be visible from the sidewalk—less interior but great rooftop terraces.

Events Calendar

loading…

SeeClickFix »

(EONP) State Street
Oct 22, 2014 5:21 pm
Address: State Street New Haven, Connecticut
Rating: 4

There will be an Emergency Order No Parking ban on Thursday August 7th on intersection of...

more »
Repave Street
Oct 22, 2014 5:15 pm
Address: 190 Willow Street New Haven, Connecticut
Rating: 3

Willow Street is in bad shape. I'm hoping the City of New Haven will respond to one...

more »

PosterWallAdd your Poster

Sponsors

N.H.I. Site Design & Development

smartpill design