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Route 34 West Plan Advances

by Allan Appel | Feb 20, 2014 1:50 pm

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

Posted to: Business/ Economic Development, The Hill, West River

Chris Bockstael, Svigals Partners architects

A new headquarters for the Continuum of Care. A pharmacy. A building for docs and labs. A deli/bakery that provides both wonderful buns and vocational training. A surface parking lot.

In a later phase more buildings for retail, lots of trees and an inner courtyard, and a structured parking garage rising in the middle of the block.

The builders of a proposed new development along Route 34 across from Career High School went public with a conceptual design and details of that plan at City Hall Wednesday night, and they got the approval of the City Plan Commission.

The commissioners unanimously voted to approve a development and land disposition agreement (DLDA) that would allow the not-for-porfit mental-health agency Continuum of Care to build an $11 million, 30,000 square foot , three-story headquarters in partnership with a Middletown builder called Centerplan Companies at 243 Legion Ave., on a 5.39 acre lot bounded by Dwight and Orchard Streets, Martin Luther King Boulevard and Legion Avenue.

The partnership would buy the property from the city for $2.65 million and proceed in two phases. First they would erect a three-story Continuum of Care headquarters at Legion and Dwight.

Planners hope the deal will spark a mixed residential and retail rejuvenation along the 16-acre wasteland created by the urban renewers of the past and stretching from Dwight Street through the Hill and West River to Ella Grasso Boulevard in the west.

Click here for a story on recent zoning changes for the entire 16-acre parcel; and here for an overview of the deal and how in planners’ minds it fits in with the “restitching” of streets and neighborhoods across the scar of Route 34.

The initial LDLA for the Continuum property passed Wednesday night after engaged inquiry from the commissioners but little public criticism. Now it goes to the Board of Aldermen for review; the plan is expected to spark more public debate there.

Continuum is a fast-growing not-for profit that runs programs for people with psychiatric problems and developmental disabilities. Currently spread out in rental space across the city, it seeks to centralize operations to meet growing demand. (Patients would not be seen in the new building.) Sixty-five nurses would be headquartered there and fan out to make approximately 150,000 home visits a year, said Continuum President Patti Walker.

As additional parts of a first phase, the developers would erect a four-to-six story medical and laboratory building at Dwight and MLK, a pharmacy at Orchard and Legion, and another retail building at Orchard and MLK; surface parking would remain in the center of the development. (See the rendition at the top of the story).

Assuming the project attracts tenants, in the second phase, builders would add another three-story medical building on Legion. They would substitute a structured four-level parking structure in the middle of the block, with a maximum of 795 car spaces.  All together, Continuum of Care’s 30,000 square feet of space for its nurses and staff would attract tenants for an additional 90,000 square feet of lab, medical, and retail space, according to the plan.

Little Criticism This Time

At last month’s City Plan meeting, where the DLDA was discussed in a zoning context and at previous meetings with neighborhood management teams, residents raised objections.

 

They focused on the extent of community input, the density the new plan will bring to the residential areas to the west, as well as concerns about jobs and the amount of parking.

Although the proceeding Wednesday was not a public hearing, commissioners consented to allow public comment.

One member of the public spoke up: Ohan Karagozian, the vice-chair of the Hill North Community Management Team.

“How much community involvement” went into the plan? he asked.

Centerplan Vice President of Development Yves Joseph replied, “We went to all the management teams, many more than once.”

“What changes were incorporated as a result of what you heard the community wants?” asked the commission member Adam Marchand, a Westville alder.

A deli, a market, a bank, replied Joseph and the other plan proponents. Continuum of Care’s Walker said that as a result she is committed to having a deli and bakery combination on the ground floor of her building. She said that would serve two purposes: activating the street for the community and providing “vocational training for our clients.”

Karagozian also expressed concern about the pollution the new parking structure would cause, exacerbating New Haven’s already high asthma rates.

“We would love not to build a garage, but they are necessary. The uses wouldn’t be possible without parking. Docs won’t lease from you if you don’t have parking. We believe the garage is over-sized [in the concept] and will [probably] be less,” said Centerplan CEO Robert Landino

Livable City Initiative Executive Director Erik Johnson, who helped craft the deal, added, “This is not against the city’s commitment to transit-oriented development (TOD).”

He said the plan will include bike paths and connections to the Yale shuttle. He said the city’s overall aim is to promote non-automobile transportation. “These are not mutually exclusive, [but] we have to have a space that will attract tenant interest, and parking is one,” he said.

Karagozian (pictured) said later that he supports the plan in general, but he continues to view the phase two garage as a particular “a thumb in the eye” to his neighborhood. He called the resultant pollution a detriment to local residents’ health.

Johnson said the site plan and the drawings are only a beginning, a “conceptual” site plan subject to change and further review by the commissioners and City Plan staff.

The city has not yet made any capital commitment to the project, he said. He also added that of the total of 120,000 square feet of space, only Continuum’s 30,000 is not-for-profit; the plan calls for the rest of the property to generate taxes.

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posted by: anonymous on February 20, 2014  9:46am

Are separated (protected) 2-way cycle tracks included in the site plan? 

If not, then the city is permanently deciding to be a place where most people will not bike - in sharp contrast to what every other major city in the US is doing.

Why isn’t the “superblock” cut into two smaller blocks, like it once was?

Keeping it as one block will make the neighborhood permanently a place that is not considered walkable.

Looks like another shortsighted plan to pad the wallets of developers at the long term expense of the city’s children.

posted by: Hill Resident on February 20, 2014  10:09am

The parking garage will have a smaller footprint than the current surface parking lot, and will accommodate fewer vehicles. And the current Yale parkers that may be displaced because the fewer spaces will be used by the tenants, clients and patrons will be accommodated in other structures/lots throughout the area. Also, this garage will be populated by vehicles who carry occupants who use facilities on that lot that will be open 5 days a week, 8-10 hours a day. This is a severe reduction from the 7 day a week, 24 hour a day current use. That in itself will reduce pollution in the neighborhood, this having a positive impact on the health of residents. The 50+ residents of West River as well as the 50+ in Hill South who attended the numerous community engagement meetings are in support of this project and the developers were responsive to our concerns. When the developers met with the -10 residents who attended the Hill North community engagement meetings, they spent much of their time catching the new alderperson (who previously had not attended any of their Management Team meetings) up to speed. The Hill North chair and co-chair (Mr. Karagozian) attended engagement meetings with the City and Developer in West River and Hill South so he had the answers before he asked the question. We were involved/engaged in the beginning, they came back with modifications based on our input, and we approve this development and use of this land for this purpose.The majority of residents in the surrounding neighborhoods welcome this development. We do not welcome the political posturings of a few elected and appointed late-coming self-serving ‘I’m just talking to be heard’ individuals.

posted by: Anderson Scooper on February 20, 2014  10:18am

I’m confused. The City has a 5.35 acre parcel, prime for development, (bigger than the 4.6 acre Coliseum site), and in place of a RFP, with multiple proposals, we get this? A private placement to a preferred developer with gosh knows who as silent partners?

For the record, that parcel is worth many times more than $2.65 Million, making this a disturbing land give-away. And outside of the Rite-Aid and non-taxable CofC, is anything else definitely going to be built?

Finally, is this going to be the Harp/Nemerson/Avallone’s team way of doing business? Because it stinks.

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

Kargozian seems like a great citizen. I understand he stepped down as Ward co-chair. Where are the new co-chairs? Wasn’t one of them endorsed by the DTC to become Jackie James’ replacement? Neither one can speak up for residents like Kargozian did last night? Or even show up?

posted by: anonymous on February 20, 2014  11:30am

Hill Resident:

I’m very sorry that you don’t “welcome” other voices, and that you are essentially telling anyone who isn’t your colleague or friend in the Management Team to shut up. You mentioned that 100 people attended a meeting. There are over 30,000 people living in this immediate area and who will have to walk this “superblock” of parking on a daily basis. When residents of our city stop welcoming diverse perspectives, then everyone suffers - particularly children and future residents, whose experiences in life will be based on the impacts of poor decisions that people living now do not always foresee.

It’s interesting that there is no crosswalk shown in the middle of this “superblock,” even though any traffic engineer in the world who wasn’t on the city’s payroll would tell you that every single student at Career High is going to cross in the middle of the block in order to get to their homes in Dwight and West River.  This puts Career students at risk now - and many other people at risk in future decades as the neighborhood develops and adds housing for seniors and families. 

I understand that any project is better than the Yale parking lot, but why cant’t the city create a truly walkable development here?  It looks like a blank slate and an opportunity to make the city a dramatically healthier place, not just another strip mall that’s only marginally better than an asphalt strip covering land for the highway that was never built.

posted by: Brian Tang on February 20, 2014  12:18pm

“He said the plan will include bike paths” I would like to see what exactly they mean by this. Do they mean an off-street cycle track? Do they mean on-street bike lanes? Do they mean sharrows? A sharrow is absolutely not a “bike path,” but I have a feeling this is what they mean.

A few years ago (late 2008/early 2009) the City Plan Dept put together a Municipal Development Plan for Rt 34 West. Is was received poorly at the time, but they included one idea that I would like to see brought back into the discussion: a two-way, off-street bicycle path on the marginal lands north of MLK. Nobody had seen such a thing at the time and I remember people saying they would prefer these things called shared lane markings. Now the cycling community has undergone a demographic shift, where the recreational, high-speed riders no longer dominate and the new slogan is that we want bicycle facilities suitable for people aged 8 to 80. As a result, nobody is very interested in sharrows anymore and everyone is asking for two-way bike paths (cycle tracks), segregated from auto traffic. In other words, we now want exactly what the city designed over five years ago. I sure hope they kept those drawings!

posted by: okaragozian1 on February 20, 2014  12:41pm

The person named “Hill Resident” commented and answered his/her own question.  Hill North is not Hill South.  Hill North is not West River.  Hill North was presented this “cooked-up” West River plan on February 11, 2014 and the hearing was on February 19, 2014 with no public comment, just public questions.  West River, and the cavalcade of DeStefano cronies, spent over a year to come up with a project but approached Hill North 8 days before approval and are bullying the Mayor to go along to get along with it.

The entire Hill North neighborhood, Ward 3, should not be disenfranchised for lack of past Aldermanic engagement.  Jacqueline James had just a few too many things to deal with on her plate, but that this is no reason to disregard the entire Hill North Community, Ward 3, just because something slipped someone’s 100% attention front-and-center.

Hill North has had no public input or meetings regarding this plan but for the February 11, 2014 presentation.  I, as Vice-Chair and the Chair of Hill North did hear about this plan and were aware of it prior to Febnruary 11, 2014 as it was presented to Hill South as we attended that meeting when the presentation was done, but that 2 people do not a neighborhood make.  Hill North needed this plan presented for consideration to residents of Hill North more fully; remember that West River residents had a full year to deal with this, but we at Hill North did not; of all the communities, Hill North was approached last and that this development is dab-smack in Hill North’s face - the whole parking lot opposite Hill Career High School.

This development is sandwiched between Hill North and Dwight neighborhoods, but that the plan “creators” involved only West River for a long period of time in the design, and presented this plan to Hill South last year once or twice and then Came to Hill North last.  I don’t even know of the level of first-hand involvement Dwight has had on this plan.

posted by: Hill Resident on February 20, 2014  1:17pm

Karagozian did not speak for the residents. The residents spoke for themselves at the many community engagement meetings that were held prior, and we residents support this planned development, which is why WE did not come to the CP meeting to ask questions that were already asked and answered at previous community engagement meetings. As to the question of where the Alderperson and co-chairs were? - they were absent like they have been at their Hill North District Management Team Meetings and the community engagement meetings that were held to discuss this planned development. Perhaps ‘anonymous, Scooper and Tang’ would have made contributions AND received answers to their questions and concerns by attending these meetings also. The developer will pay $2.65 million which is the assessed value of the 5+ acres land that is currently being used for nothing more than a parking lot. C of C has secured $7 million+ for the building of their structure (employment opportunities) and the construction of the rest of the proposed development will also bring employment opportunities to the community, as well as continued employment in the businesses that will occupy this development and bring much needed tax revenue to the city(only CofC is non-profit and will be tax exempt ... all others WILL pay taxes). And with this increased employment opportunities (short and long term) perhaps many more area residents will be able to BUY a bike.

posted by: TheMadcap on February 20, 2014  1:32pm

I don’t like it, not just because of the massive parking garage, but the entire block they’re on is being kept too large.

posted by: okaragozian1 on February 20, 2014  2:13pm

Absent proof to the contrary, assertions that Hill North residents were involved in the planning of this project is unsupported.  The person presenting themselves as “Hill Resident” are posting circular arguments and unsupported claims.  This “Hill Resident” is most likely a stooge of “The Man”!  I’m calling out “Hill Resident” to show there was Hill North involvement in the planning of this development and to show that Hill North residents were informed other than just saying so without any proof!!!

posted by: Anderson Scooper on February 20, 2014  2:51pm

@ Hill North—

Nice try.

Yes, all commercial property is assessed according to its use. But in this case, the land’s best use is clearly not as a surface parking lot!

Therefore the City is correct to assess this parcel at $2.65 Million, according to its current use as a surface parking lot. But that is not what the land is actually worth to a developer.

In this case it is mind-boggling that this parcel hasn’t gone out to bid.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on February 20, 2014  4:11pm

And the Route 34/Medical District edge city continues to sprawl its way westward.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edge_city

Typologically, these roadways, parking areas, curb cuts, greenery burms and functional use of this development are all identical to what is found out in any suburban office park. This development will also function the same way as an office park - hundreds of single-occupancy vehicle commuting workers will be imported daily to this area from elsewhere and then their pay checks will be exported out.

Does/will Continuum of Care offer any kind of homebuyers program, free employee bus passes, indoor bike parking, showers or other incentives for employees to live close to work or at least in New Haven? It appears from all the curb cuts, surface parking lots, gaps in street frontage and homogeniety of use that pedestrians will be discouraged from walking around, let alone for an employee to consider walking to work from a house nearby.

posted by: okaragozian1 on February 20, 2014  8:09pm

The Union Station to Downtown Development project included neighborhood interaction that should be the standard by which all community input should be measured.  In all, there were more than 5 community meetings at Hill Central School cafeteria which involved the input of a variety of neighborhoods who were stakeholders of the project.  Community members were asked to participate in putting forth ideas, there was much interaction - even children were asked to draw what they would like to see built in the area.

This CentralPlan project was cooked-up by a “cabal” of West River residents and a cavalcade of their lackeys over a period of a year or more.  After they drew all this up, they then turned to neighboring communities - last minute like - and said “Look what we came up with!”  Then this “cabal” got offended when we didn’t like it and started casting aspersions on our motives and our characters by having their lackeys cast aspersions on our motives.  So, with this in mind, where any objection to an 800 car garage an outcry is heard of circular arguments and nonsensical harrumphing.

No one in our community will stand for being side-stepped and side-swiped by a cabal of the old Mayor’s cronies or their lackeys.

The City of New Haven has the highest asthma rates in the State of Connecticut and we are building another 800 car garage!  The health and welfare of the residents of the City of New Haven, of Hill North and Dwight are being sacrificed at the altar of economic development.  This does not have to be so.  Something more profitable and something that generates more tax revenues can be built in place of that 800 car garage.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on February 20, 2014  10:11pm

If my memory serves me right, the Route 34 West Municipal Development Plan was never completed or adopted - it was shelved to be dealt with after Downtown Crossing.

This Continuum of Care proposal is separate from the Route 34 West MDP and is a private project for development, not a municipal plan. I’m not sure what voice the public has in crafting a private development like this. This is not like the Hill-to-Downtown plan, where community input is vital to crafting a plan for future development. Demanding public participation in the design of this Continuum of Care project would be like me demanding to be consulted about you building an addition on to your house.

It appears that the city dropped the ball by not adopting a Route 34 West MDP, which has resulted in an inappropriate proposal to be developed for the site.

Could someone correct me if I’m wrong.

posted by: Hill Resident on February 21, 2014  12:01am

Hill Resident is just that ... a Hill Resident. When the Chair (Ms Lena Largie) and Vice Chair (O Karagozian) attended the Hill Sourh Managemen Team meeting last year they became aware of rhe plans to develop this area. As Chair and Vice Chair of the community engagement organization know as Hill North it was their responsibility to bring information to the people of the district they ‘serve’. Why this was not done until February when they know about the plan more than 3 months ago? Mr Karagozian could have approached the developers at the Hill South meeting last year to set up a meeting for Hill North. And you are correct - 2 people do not a neighborhood make, but perhaps if the leadership of Hill North was proactive instead of reactive, you would have more than 5 people attending your management team meetings.  I do welcome other ‘voices’ and I don’t reject the opinions of those that don’t agree with me. I don’t assume to speak for ‘the people’. I only represent my thoughts, ideas and opinions. And i am definitely not a ‘stooge for the man’ (really???). But I also don’t just talk to hear myself talk (or to make sure others hear me).  I don’t just hold a title, attend meetings and make public comments. I am active.  I engage in my neighborhood, I serve in my neighborhood. I walk the walk. So if someone was offended by my comments, I apologize. Let’s get over it and get back to WORK ... for the community. I’m done.

posted by: NewHavenTaxTooHigh on February 21, 2014  1:48am

Another bad deal for the people of new haven. Scooper is right- the parcel should go out to bid. And there’s no reason not to make the blocks smaller.

posted by: NewHavenTaxTooHigh on February 21, 2014  1:49am

I hope NHI keeps us posted and lets us know (well in advance) when the public hearing will take place

posted by: MatthewNemerson on February 21, 2014  1:51am

Seriously, “Anderson”, cheap shot!

While this deal - and the sales price - was put together by the previous administration in terms of all basic details we feel it is worth continuing and pushing towards completion. Mayor Harp is a big fan and supporter of C of C. She fought to get them bonding support from the state and wants to see them thrive by addressing their remarkable growth through consolidation in a new HQ building. The complex nature of the deal is needed to provide enough cross funding for this important not for profit to be able to afford a substantial new home. 

I have spent as much time on this project as any over the past two months and have met with the developer, neighborhood, architects,  Anstress and C of C - in some cases many times.

Given that the main details and outline of the deal were finalized last year, I think we have made improvements in its neighborhood context - especially at the Orchard Street end given the limitations of working with a pharmacy with drive-in “box” - and its overall design and “urbanity”.

Given the policy of the Harp administration to maintain honest, frank and working relationships with developers and future investors in New Haven - tenants and other “clients” especially - I;‘m sure this project will continue to move in the direction that we all think it should.   
Please know we are listening & applaud everyone for caring so much about the impact of each new acre of development.
Clearly the first two blocks west of the ARG have not been the complete design successes anyone wanted to see - if we are to be honest. 

We hope to make this block better and to make the next two under our total influence something we can all be exceedingly proud of. So keep those ideas coming in.

posted by: Anderson Scooper on February 21, 2014  8:21am

“The complex nature of the deal is needed to provide enough cross funding for this important not for profit to be able to afford a substantial new home.”

Hi Mr. Nemerson,

Thank you for wading into the comment section to try and set the record straight.

Could you first help us by defining “cross-funding”. I believe you mean that the land in this case is indeed worth much more than the $2.65 Million, but that in exchange for a great deal on the land, Landino is then contributing towards the construction costs of the CofC building? Or did you mean something else?

If I do have you correctly, can I suggest that this is precisely the type of deal that Mayor Harp should not be making, as the optics of it are horrible. Instead you should simply give CofC an acre or two, (possibly a less prime parcel) and then put the development of this mega-block out to bid.

A couple of more quick points:

1. What was the cheap shot that you accuse me of? If you are owed an apology, I’ll certainly make one.

2. Can you define “urbanity” in the context you used it? I am truly lost by it.

3. To everyone else. Please note that the real political question falls to both Mayor Harp and Gwen Mills. My understanding is that the Mayor has genuine doubts as to the wisdom of this proposal. And the question for Gwen is if the Union-controlled BofA is going to follow-up the street giveaway to Yale, with an even grosser boondoggle. Isn’t the public at least deserving of a fair market appraisal of this 5.35 acre’s value? Or does the CofC-Landino combination trump propriety?

4. Finally, could someone please tell me what Erik Johnson’s interest in this development is all about? If there isn’t any financial stake for himself, friends or family, (of which there is no evidence), why is the LCI guy so deep into this deal? It just doesn’t feel right, but maybe it is fairly explainable.

Again Mr. Nemerson, thank you for being so forthright and accessible.

posted by: okaragozian1 on February 21, 2014  9:04am

Hill Resident is right - we did approach them, they did come.  The November Hill North Community Management Team Meeting was a wash because of weather conditions and they did not come back until February 11, 2014, then the vote was on February 19, 2014 - 8 days.

Further, there are 2047 registered democrats in Ward 3.  The Hill North Community Management Team does not have 2047 attendees.  There are times 5 or 6 people come out and on a few occasion 20 or more as was the instance on February 11, 2014 where we ran out of chairs and people were left standing in the back of the room, perhaps 1/2 a dozen or more.

The names and addresses of the 2047 registered democrats are available to anyone for free from the Voter Registrar Office.  There was no outreach done to anyone in the community by the City or by the developer.  The only outreach the City and developer did for Ward 3 and Hill, North was go to Jackie James and we asked them to come over to the Hill North Community Management Team meeting.

US Post Office has every Door Direct mailing service, https://www.usps.com/business/every-door-direct-mail.htm, where you can mail out postcards to every door in a particular zip-code and zip-code section.  To mail everyone in The Hill North neighborhood would cost about $224.00.  This development is going to cost $50,000,000.00 - $224.00 is not going to break the bank here.

Further, the City government has even a less expensive mailing arrangement with the US Post office in mass mailings.

Neither the City nor the developer reached out to the citizens of Hill North or Ward 3 on time for residents to be able to properly comment on this development.

I’m not here to argue what was done in Hill South or what was done at West River, but I will argue that neither of those places are in proximate physical placement anywhere close to the proposed development.  The CenterPlan development abuts Dwight neighborhood, The Hill North neighborhood - that’s it!

posted by: okaragozian1 on February 21, 2014  9:20am

Matt Nemerson has a point and a point that should not be lost on any reader - this thing was cooked-up under a DeStefano administration.  No one I have talked to in Hill North expressed any dissatisfaction with Continuum of Care’s construction, but the rest of the construction, particularly the 800 car garage is a sore spot that no one likes.

Further, I have had to use hand gestures and words to describe to neighbors what is going on because at no point in time did the City nor the developer provide any drawings, conceptual or otherwise, to me nor to Hill South I might add, for distribution to our respective community members.

We are constantly being told that everything is in flux and no one really knows what it’s really going to like when it is done by both Eric Johnoson (the City) and by Landino (the developer).  During the meeting on February 19, 2014 by the City Plan Commissioners, Adam Marchand questioned this and the spokesperson for the developer said, and I quote, “This is not just a cartoon.”  But right now that is all we have.

Eric Johnson and the developer are selling the City a pipe-dream without definitive - I mean concrete - commitments as to EXACTLY what they are going to do.  The City and the developer are saying that it is sort of going to look like this and that it sort of going to be here and there.  So even if we, the neighborhood residents, have something to look at, we are not sure that is what it is going to look like.

The other item I won’t forget is hat Matt said to Yale about 904 Howard which I’m sure he now wants to take back.  He said, and I quote, “Parking, parking. Come on now, we have had enough parking.  I’m sure there is something else you can do with this lot at 904 Howard.”  That is right Matt - both you and I and the residents of Hill North have had enough parking around here!

Continuum of Care is the sugar portion of the development, but the rest of it is crap and we are not going to eat it!

posted by: HewNaven on February 21, 2014  10:30am

Whatever happened to the concept of ‘re-connecting’ Hill North to the Dwight/West River neighborhoods? That has always been a goal for Route 34 West planning. Why is there no talk of ‘mending’ the street grid now? Day Street should dissect this new development, instead of it taking up the whole block.

posted by: Kevin on February 21, 2014  11:28am

Anonymous, you argue that if a cycle track is not included in the site plan “the city is permanently deciding to be a place where most people will not bike.” Could I suggest a bit less hyperbole? The site consists of a single city block, less than 1% of the city’s land area. An isolated length of cycle track, in and of itself, will have very little impact on whether people choose to bike in the city. There are a wide range of measures the city can and should take to promote cycling. These include developing cycle tracks, but this is not a silver bullet.

posted by: HewNaven on February 21, 2014  11:54am

There are a wide range of measures the city can and should take to promote cycling.

Kevin,

Anyone who has been following the trajectory of cycling advocacy in New Haven knows that the city has already attempted a “wide range of measures” (e.g. marked lanes, sharrows, signage, etc.) with little success to “promote cycling”. It seems like these kinds of cheap and easy fixes (i.e. road paint and signs) are fine for the small percentage of road users who already ride a bike and already feel comfortable sharing the road with automobiles. But, paint and signs do not “promote cycling” beyond this predominantly young, athletic, male demographic. On the contrary, cycle tracks are guaranteed to increase ridership across all demographics simply because they provide a separated (i.e. protected) pathway. I agree one block would not make a difference, but the City should absolutely be pushing to install cycle tracks on major unprotected mini-highways like Route 34 West, the Boulevard, Whalley Avenue, Sargent Drive, etc.

posted by: Serf of New Haven on February 21, 2014  12:01pm

I went to a meeting about Rt 34 many years ago where all the usual suspects went on about mixed use developments for these very large parcels. The renderings weren’t fancy but they clearly showed the land closest to the medical school slated for parking. This was the goal. Fast forward to today. Nothing has changed. The bulk of this plan is a parking garage the size of a football field on a nondescript super block permanently dividing neighborhoods. A quick browse of Landino’s website will give you a tour of some of the most ugly buildings ever built.

This is what you get when you have the same bureaucrats in charge of LCI and Economic Development. Compounded failure on top of compounded failure turning New Haven into a swiss cheese of bad development. They dangle these parcels out to favored developers and the Yale Parking Industrial Complex for pennies on the dollar once again. They already got one parking garage in, decorated with changing neon for what purpose? They have the Air Rights Garage. Now they want the garages to push into the neighborhoods even deeper, driving a deep wedge through New Haven, despite all the knowledge of Rt34 being a text book example of urban renewal failure. They’re doubling down on that failure. Astonishing. Instead of the highway we’re getting parking garage row.

These bureaucrats are irresponsible fiduciaries of the cities purse and should have all been fired years ago. They turned River Street into a wasteland, prime parcels of valuable land went to Schools that could have been built on a fraction of current footprints, Pfizer got a whole block for itself for surface parking, I could go on and on. The record is one of compounded failure. Only in government could failure get so embedded. This land, and every other parcel owned by the city should have gone out to bid ten years ago. These lots should have been carved up and sold to individual mom and pop builders intent on recreating the livable neighborhoods that were bulldozed.

posted by: anonymous on February 21, 2014  1:10pm

Kevin:

One block does make an enormous difference to walking and biking, especially when it sits on a major route to different parts of the city.  It’s not just about circulation within that single block.  Look at the approach that other cities like Calgary are taking - they are focusing on a very small number of major routes for cycling, not trying to fix infrastructure citywide.  In many cases, the decisions made about 5-10 centrally-located blocks (like the one in question here) have more of an impact than the decisions made about the city’s hundreds of other blocks.

Perhaps I should have written “this quadrant of the city” instead of the entire city - but aside from its impact on an entire section of the city, the fact is, the city is setting a precedent here that will apply to other blocks throughout the region.  Same goes for the (apparent lack of) basic walking infrastructure here.

posted by: NewHavenTaxTooHigh on February 21, 2014  6:32pm

Just because the proposed deal is in an advanced stage doesn’t mean that it should get pushed through.

As a taxpayer I would prefer to see that parcel left empty until a larger more complete plan for the entire stretch of parcels is put forward.

I don’t see COC is an ‘anchor’ tenant that will attract additional development. COC has little leverage in this deal. If it’s true that most of its clients are in New Haven, then they clearly want to be here. The fact that it is a not-for-profit doesn’t mean they should get a deal on the parcel. Let them shop the building proposal to our suburban neighbors and see what type of reception they receive.

The city ought to steer them to other avenues that are desperate for new tenants and building - whalley, dixwell, etc.

The building parcel is prime for COC - it’s a hop skip and jump to I-95 and I-91 so its well-paid execs can scoot off to the burbs with their generous salaries subsidized by cheap rent from new haven taxpayers.

Separate, but related topic: What is Johnson’s background and expertise. My sense is that he is in way over his head, and has way too much influence on matters such as this and Dwight Gardens. I’m sure he’s a nice person, I just think that when working with high-priced developers and their attorneys, the city needs more seasoned professionals.

Has anyone established a committee/group to try to stop this development?

posted by: newhavenerrr on February 24, 2014  12:32pm

I like that we are utilizing this area, however, this is not the way to go about it. I commute from the east haven side to the westville side daily and it takes upwards to 35 minutes. With this development it will slow the heavily commuted strip to rt. 34. If we are going to develop this precious land, it should be for all to enjoy

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