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St. Luke’s Pitches $15M Plaza Plan On Whalley

by Thomas MacMillan | Dec 11, 2013 3:48 pm

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

Posted to: Business/ Economic Development, Housing, Dixwell, Whalley

Thomas MacMIllan Photos Papa John’s might not be making pizza next to St. Luke’s Church for much longer. Instead, someone’s grandpapa might live in a new building there.

The Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) Tuesday evening heard a pitch to tear down the pizza joint at 125 Whalley Ave., along with surrounding structures, and replace them with a new mixed-use building with apartments set aside for the elderly.

That $15 million vision belongs to the St. Luke’s Development Corporation, a not-for-profit organization affiliated with St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, which stands at 111 Whalley Ave and owns the next-door plaza where Papa John’s does business.

The BZA did not vote on the plan, sending it instead to the City Plan Commission for a recommendation. The matter will return to the BZA next month for a final vote.

Paul B Bailey Architects The proposed construction requires relief because the area is zoned for automotive uses, a holdover from a time when Whalley Avenue was lined with car dealerships and repair shops. The development would rise where Papa John’s pizza, an RV dealership, and Music Haven now stand.

St. Luke’s Development Corporation is looking to build on its previous housing development work. In 2006, the organization built the Josephine Jarvis Gray senior housing complex at the corner of Goffe, Sperry, and Dickerman streets.

The latest proposed development was initially pitched as senior housing. After consulting with neighbors, organizers changed the plan to a mix of senior and regular affordable housing.

The proposed development comprises three parts. A five-story mixed use building on Whalley Avenue would have two storefronts on the ground floor and 38 units in the floor above. In the rear of that building, on what is now an empty lot, a smaller, four-unit apartment building would go up. St. Luke’s would also rehab another Dickerman Street residential building that’s deteriorated.

Noah Kazis, a Yale law student working with St. Luke’s on the project, said the goal is to help create a more “walkable corridor” on Whalley Avenue. To that end, the building would not be set back from the street by a parking lot, but rise right by the sidewalk. And it would be mixed-use: not just apartments, and not just stores, but both.

Kazis handed board members 87 letters of support for the project, including one from Frank Douglass, the local alderman.

Samuel Andoh (pictured with Kazis) of St. Luke’s said the project would “stabilize” the neighborhood, increase property values, and “create an ambiance of safety.”

During public testimony, Sheila Masterson, head of the Whalley Avenue Special Services District, gave her full support for the project.

The City Plan Commission is scheduled to consider the plan next Wednesday.

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posted by: Yaakov on December 11, 2013  12:30pm

It seems like the real problem here is the zoning. Why is the antiquated zoning still in place in an area that the city is actively trying to make more walkable?

posted by: NewHavenTaxTooHigh on December 11, 2013  1:50pm

Yaakov is right. Whalley should be rezoned in order to encourage development

posted by: A Contrarian on December 11, 2013  2:45pm

Whalley seems like a good place to move some of the people who would be evicted due to redevelopment across the street from the train station.

posted by: Atticus Shrugged on December 11, 2013  3:12pm

I’d like to know more about the store fronts.  Will the two store fronts take up the entire length of the building and will there be any “religious” or moral restrictions on what can go inside of them? 

In fairness, I don’t support the project as its displayed in the pictures.  The City needs to focus on more actual growth and retail and shopping growth within the corridor than simply adding housing.  How will this be financed?  Is it a mixture of taxpayer dollars?  Will tax credits be used? 

As of today, it is better than nothing.  But it might simply windup like the Gateway project.  Great in theory but not the best use of the space.

posted by: anonymous on December 11, 2013  4:02pm

Five-story, urban development along Whalley is a great idea, but hopefully they can find a better architect/planner this time around. 

I would hate to see this project incorporate a neighborhood-crushing parking lot, just like the Josephine Jarvis Grey building does. 

The developers should not talk about “improving safety” if they are adding huge parking lots along key streets like the one at Josephine Grey.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on December 11, 2013  5:40pm

In concept a 5-story mixed-use retail-residential building sounds great for this area of Whalley Avenue. In fact, Whalley Avenue developed along with the adjacent residential streetcar suburbs of Edgewood, and Beaver Hills and was lined by houses throughout the first half of the 20th Century. By the mid-20th century, many houses had been converted - at least partially - to commercial use and some houses were demolished to make way for larger businesses, especially east of Sherman Avenue. However, most of Whalley’s residential character was lost due to the automobile boom of the second half of the 20th century.

This project, in many ways, would appropriately reflect Whalley’s prior function as a place to not only shop, but live as well. Like anonymous, I’m not entirely convinced that the architectural character presented in this proposal is exactly right. The roof is a bit intense for a building of that height and the facade may work better entirely clad in masonry. This hybrid “clapboard”-masonry facade would be more appropriate on upper Whalley (see 560 Whalley Ave at the corner of Pendelton St http://goo.gl/maps/cvHfg). This site probably wants a slightly more urban building without clapboard siding.

Currently there are three curb cuts to access each of the businesses, hopefully this project proposes removing two of those curb cuts, which would indeed, along with the stores fronts aligning with the sidewalk and residences, improve walkability on this stretch of Whalley.

posted by: Threefifths on December 11, 2013  6:15pm

Samuel Andoh (pictured with Kazis) of St. Luke’s said the project would “stabilize” the neighborhood, increase property values, and “create an ambiance of safety.”

What stabilize the neighborhood is that everyone pay there fair share of taxes.These church Development Corporations are nothing more then a money maker.In fact Look at what happen in New york.

Sale of Property Positioned Queens Pastor to Gain


http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/18/nyregion/18flake.html?pagewanted=all


And look at how it was done.

The Deal to Buy a Queens Housing Project
How the Rev. Floyd H. Flake and his partners used public money in 2006 to buy control of a lucrative Queens housing project from Mr. Flake’s church, the Greater Allen African Methodist Episcopal Cathedral in St. Albans.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/06/18/nyregion/20100618-flake-flowchart.html?ref=nyregion

posted by: A Contrarian on December 11, 2013  6:42pm

Jonathan Hopkins:  All good points.  Time for a “Whalley Avenue Plan” to transform this portion into NH’s version of a Parisian Boulevard.

posted by: HewNaven on December 11, 2013  7:20pm

The proposed construction requires relief because the area is zoned for automotive uses

How long is this going to go on for? Can one of our RESPONSIBLE representatives please tackle the lower Whalley zoning issues asap. Its only been a lingering problem for a few decades now…

posted by: STANDUP on December 12, 2013  1:50pm

I live in Beaver Hills and we would LOVE an elderly complex. Would not welcome any more section 8 or subsidized apartments on Whalley Ave. Between section 8, absentee landlords ,and corner stores have completely changed Whalley Ave. We need Middle class strength back. Hard working people that have pride in there neighborhood and affordable housing. Yes there are people that need Section 8 ,but we also know that there are others that take advantage of the system .Small business’s similar o Nica’s in East Rock would change the energy of Whalley Ave. Butcher, pastry shops or bakery would be welcomed and useful ans strives in Fair Haven why not Whalley.

posted by: Threefifths on December 14, 2013  7:43pm

posted by: STANDUP on December 12, 2013 12:50pm

I live in Beaver Hills and we would LOVE an elderly complex. Would not welcome any more section 8 or subsidized apartments on Whalley Ave. Between section 8, absentee landlords ,and corner stores have completely changed Whalley Ave. We need Middle class strength back. Hard working people that have pride in there neighborhood and affordable housing.

What a bias statement.Look at Beaver Hills.IT is becoming a dump and crime mill.The middle class is gone.

http://economyincrisis.org/content/where-has-the-middle-class-gone

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