As a Newhallville activist branded them “thieves” trying to set up a “banana republic,” developers convinced the City Plan Commission to advance a $40 million revitalization of a shuttered rifle factory and dormant neighborhood gateway.
The harsh words Wednesday night came from Pastor Scott Marks (pictured above), who heads a church on Dixwell Avenue. He was one of several members of the Dixwell and Newhallville communities who showed up at the monthly meeting of the City Plan Commission at City Hall. He was joined by Rev. Boise Kimber and State Rep. Gary Holder Winfield and others, who decried a lack of community input in a plan to renovate and develop the site of the former Winchester Arms factory at the corner of Winchester Avenue and Munson Street. Among other tenants, the building would house a growing local employer hoping to stay in town, Higher One.
Developer Carter Winstanley was at the meeting to ask for permissions that would allow him to turn the old rifle factory into a mixed-use complex. He’s teaming up on the project with the Science Park Development Corporation and the Forest City Enterprises development company. The first phase of the plan would renovate and connect two existing parts of the factory to create new headquarters for Higher One.
Despite the community opposition that came out at the tense three-hour meeting, the commission voted to recommend the approval of Winstanley’s plan by the Board of Aldermen. The aldermanic Legislation Committee will take up the matter next Thursday, in advance of a vote by the full board.
Not all neighbors opposed the plan. One, Joe Covington, whose family worked in the old rifle plant, said he and his fellow condo owners across the street look forward to new spin-off economic opportunities from a transformation of the building.
Winstanley (pictured) was joined at the meeting by David Silverstone, head of the board at the Science Park Development Corporation, and Abe Naparstek of Forest City Development, which will be working on the residential development at the site.
The developers are asking for an expansion of the Planned Development District (PDD) created in the 1980s that covers the area. They also want a change to the list of permitted uses in the PDD. When it was created, the PDD set local zoning guidelines designed to encourage high-tech, including bio-tech, companies to set up in the area. City Plan Director Karyn Gilvarg noted that the developers would like the restrictions changed to allow more uses.
Under the proposed new restrictions, the old factory could be put to a wide variety of uses, from light manufacturing to restaurants to dog washing and barber shops, said Silverstone.
Currently, the developers have one specific use in mind—the new headquarters for New Haven’s new-economy powerhouse Higher One. The company, which recently earned a quick $36 million by going public and joining the New York Stock Exchange, is bursting its seams at its current offices across from the factory, at 25 Science Park. Phase one of the development of the factory would be a $40 million project to create a 150,000 square-foot new home for Higher One by the beginning of 2012.
Creating Higher One’s new home could create “hundreds” of new jobs at the company, Silverstone (pictured) said. But time is of the essence. Higher One is desperate to move and, with $36 million and a non-site-specific product, has the potential to move anywhere it wants to. It doesn’t have many other options for space in the city. If New Haven delays approval of the factory renovation, all those jobs could end up in some other town, Silverstone warned.
The developers’ call for action was met with calls to slow down the process from Pastor Marks and others. They said the local community hasn’t had enough opportunity to look at the plans. They also raised concerns about traffic, tax abatement, and local hiring.
But Marks didn’t speak for everyone. One neighbor said he’s anxious for the project to get going—so he can make money off of it.
After a presentation of the details of the project, City Plan Commission Chair Ed Mattison opened up the floor first to factual questions from the public. He then struggled to maintain control of the meeting, as people took the opportunity to speak out against the plans.
Pastor Marks asked a pointed question. He wanted to know how many people Higher One currently employs. Developers said the current staff in New Haven is 160.
“How many live in Newhallville and Dixwell?” Marks asked. The developers didn’t know.
“Three, I think, is the answer,” Marks said.
Once Higher One moves into its new offices, “how many people will they hire from the community?” Marks asked.
Silverstone said the developers can’t make guarantees like that. Higher One is a private sector company and can’t be required to hire locals, he said.
He began to speak about the need to “establish some pipelines” to direct local workers into local jobs in the area.
“I don’t want to hear jargon,” interrupted Marks.
Marks next asked about construction jobs during the renovation of the factory.
“We’re going to work really hard to meet local hiring requirements” with regard to locals and minorities, said Forest City Development’s Naparstek (pictured). “We will not and cannot guarantee work for a specific individual.”
Other neighbors asked similar questions about jobs and received similar responses.
“Can this be stopped?” Marks asked. He said he wanted to know if the approval process could be halted to give the community more time to consider the proposal.
“That’s not a factual question,” said Mattison.
“I think this is going too fast,” said Richard Jennings, who said he runs a business at the corner of Dixwell Avenue and Henry Street.
“You can’t make a speech,” Mattison said.
Jennings posed his question. “Will you let the community evaluate this plan, and when?”
Naparstak said developers went to both the Newhallville and Dixwell community management team meetings and made presentations about the project.
Jennings said he didn’t remember that.
“You weren’t there,” Naparstak said. “That’s a fact and it happened. This isn’t happening in secret.”
State Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield (pictured), who lives a block away on Winchester Avenue, later stepped to the microphone. “If the community doesn’t have the actual plans, what’s the point of testifying?” he asked.
City Plan head Gilvarg said the plans have been and are available for public viewing in the department’s offices in City Hall.
During a break in the meeting, Marks stepped into the hallway and said developers shouldn’t be given a “blank check” to do what they want. The city shouldn’t “let them turn this into a banana republic,” he said. “These guys are coming in as thieves!”
As the meeting continued, neighbors continued to call on the developers for promises of community benefit.
Rev. Kimber (pictured) called for the developers to sit down with locals and address neighborhood concerns.
“A development like this comes with a sense of responsibility to people in the community,” said neighbor Darren Jones.
Pastor Marks appealed to the history of the factory. “Over 20,000 people from down south came north” to work for Winchester, he said. Factory jobs “made a huge difference” to poor families from the south, enabling them to send their kids to college. The developers are concerned with the historic preservation of the buildings, Marks said, but what about the people who worked there?
“I worked inside this building,” said Frank Jackson. With taxes going up and jobs getting scarce, “this project is vital—vital—to the community,” Jackson said. “I plead with you, do what you can for my community.”
Winstanley said the developers have worked hard to reach out to the community. But, he said, he has never received a call asking for him to come to a meeting.
During pre-voting deliberations, commissioners acknowledged neighborhood concerns but said that their role as a recommending body is limited to zoning matters only.
After considering and rejecting a condition of approval that would have required the developers to hold a community meeting, commissioners settled on writing a supplementary letter to aldermen, explaining that neighbors expressed concern about a lack of input in the process.
“We need to recognize that there appears to be a lack of communication,” said commissioner and East Rock Alderman Justin Elicker.
Neighbors need to take some responsibility for that, Chair Mattison said. “The neighborhood, in a sense, has to get its act together,” he said. Neighbors need to make clear and reasonable requests, he said.
The commission voted unanimously to recommend the approval of the Winchester development plan.
“We got sort of sold out here tonight,” said Pastor Marks as he left the meeting. The commission should make decisions based on zoning requirements and not the pressures of businesses wanting to expand, he said.
Unlike some of the other neighbors who spoke at the meeting, Joe Covington (pictured) said he’s anxious for work to begin. He said his condo at 122 Munson Street is just a couple hundred feet from the Winchester factory. Everyone in his condo complex feels the same way, he said.
“We need it to happen,” he said during a break in the meeting. He said he’s ready to face “the full impact” of the construction, because of the benefit of the project. “When Higher One quadruples its employees, that’ll bring business into the community. All you need to do is put in a grocery store.”
That’s just what Covington, an employment specialist at Easter Seals Goodwill Industries, plans to do. He’s going to call his market “Joe’s Farmers Market” and sell organic foods to the new people in the neighborhood.
“I’m very grateful for what you’re doing,” Covington told developers. “Five generations of my family have worked in that building.”
He urged the commission to approve the plan and developers to start work. “Hurry up,” he said “Hurry up.”
“I’ll get a shovel and start digging,” he offered to Naparstek as he returned to his seat.
I’m sorry, this is absolutely ridiculous. If the Dixwell/Newhallville so-called leaders are opposing a project like this, then this community needs to think long and hard about who these leaders actually are.
This is indicative of an unfortunate trend of community activists to try to score political points on the backs of their constituents with large projects like this, rather than seeing them as a pretty massive positive bet on the long-term prospects of this city.
Further more—and this is crucially important—it is an outright falsehood and betrayal of what a city stands for to say that if a project doesn’t benefit a certain class of people that it is not worth doing.
Should middle and upper-middle class residents march out in force to oppose subsidized housing or a low-priced local market? Should people who send their children to parochial and private schools refuse to help fund the school construction project?
Of course projects like this should be scrutinized, and questions should be asked. But to question why Higher-One only has 3 local residents, and then somehow impugn the company for that fact, is mud-slinging at its worst.
Building a new and vibrant section of town where decay once stood is what turns communities around. Having diverse neighborhoods of multiple income levels is that turns communities around. Bringing a critical mass of people who feel safe walking around on the street at night is what turns communities around. Simply standing in front of positve progress and yelling “no” is what causes communities to continue to drag into violence and despair.
posted by: Say What on July 22, 2010 12:44pm
This is a first for me to see. Marks, Kimber and Holder-Winfield all together. They say you are judged by the company you keep Mr. Winfield. Inquiring minds want to know just how close you and Rev. Kimber are?
So Rev. Marks gets union jobs out of the project. Rev. Kimber gets a consulting contract and what does Mr. Winfield get? The three of you remind me of LeBron, wade and Bosch getting together to figure out how they are gonna make the most money rather than show some loyalty to the people.
I dont know anyone that got a job at science park but i do know when I smell trouble brewin. Dont know whos worse big developers in our neighborhood or our supposed leaders who are in it for themselves.
posted by: robn on July 22, 2010 12:48pm
Its cool for community members to be concerned about the renovation of a large historic structure in their community; aesthetics, noise, traffic and such… but the building is being bought by a private company that has no obligation to hire people in the surrounding neighborhood. If somebody wants a job, they should apply. As soon as I read that Rev Kimber was present I knew that this was going to be a story about a shakedown.
posted by: ignoranceisbliss on July 22, 2010 12:54pm
Hmm…. I wonder what would make the good Reverend Kimber happy based on his past history? Now let me think…..
Mr. Covington, you and your neighbors, who have the true interests of the community at heart need to come out to the Board of Aldermen meeting and show your support for this development.
posted by: Gary Holder-Winfield on July 22, 2010 1:24pm
last night the point I was making is that the Alders who are the line of communication between the community and city government indicated they had just gotten the plan so the community was certainly not aware of it. Regardless of whether or not it is available in some office they have to know there is something to look for. When those who serve as the line of communication don’t know then the community will not know. To hold a hearing and have public comment when the public has no facts to base the comment on seems pointless to me. None of my point is a value judgment it is calling into question the process.
Thank god Pastor Marks was there because he is 100 percent correct. Southern migrant blacks from largely agricultural communities came to Northeastern cities precisely because of the ample number of manufacturing jobs that were available during the World War 2 industrial boom. Unfortunately, immediately after the war ended, the factories downsized immensely. Families that were well established for several generations were able to take advantage of cheap mortgages for suburban housing, while blacks were barred from suburbs and did not have the foundations of education to fall back on once the manufacturing jobs were fading. Any use for the Winchester factories that does not provide jobs for the existing unemployed and underemployed populations of Newhallville and Dixwell is a massive failure to address any problems that exist in the communities. Higher One employs highly educated and highly skilled individuals, which is largely not the population in the adjacent neighborhoods of people who face chronic unemployment. An accurate way of viewing this proposal is that it likely prevents those much needed jobs from establishing at this location in the near future and instead creates a commuter-dependent office park that acts no different from a suburban model accept instead of this negatively effecting open country side or forests, it disrupts a well-established historic neighborhood with oceans of asphalt and greenery that amounts to little more than “nature bandaids”. The one positive is that this will contribute to the city’s tax base and bring about some activity to the area during the day, so in that respect is it slightly less bad that what exists today. The desperation of the city is going to ensure that this proposal goes through. With that fact, what the community should do now is try to take as many steps as possible to ensure that this project gets less and less worse. Some suggestions would be to try to convince the city to have a homebuyer programs for its schools so that teachers are encouraged to live in the neighborhood where they teach. Higher One also needs a homebuyer program to encourage its future employees to set up routes in the city and near their place of employment. Doing this could greatly diminish the burden of required parking for the offices, which can get very expensive at about $15,000 per space for structured parking and about $7,000 per space for surface parking. Having a more sizable middle and upper middle class population would help bring up demand for small businesses, services and retail in the neighborhood. While the jobs wouldn’t be aimed at the existing population, the presence of more people with spending money would present the opportunity for residents to open small stores like groceries, cafes and restaurants which would help with unemployment with the need for dishwashers, servers, bus boys, sidewalk sweepers, etc. There are enough vacant lots in the southern blocks of Newhallville between Winchester and Shelton to satisfy any demand for new housing if the existing housing isn’t desirable. Also, with the average house only taking up 35% of building lots, there is plenty of growing land within the neighborhood to satisfy a farmer’s market, and when coupled with New Haven’s chicken coop policy, need for importing of goods could be reduced. Also, the existing housing stock in Newhallville is very good structurally and with little investment almost any house could be turned into this: http://www.nhsofnewhaven.org/images/phocagallery/thumbs/phoca_thumb_l_48 frank.jpg
If a homebuyer program can be accomplished, then the city should immediately create a small masterplan for Winchester Ave that takes advantage of abandoned properties and vacant lots and aims to develop them as small mixed use buildings in the model of upper State Street. The ground floor could be retail for shopping and eating with second floors for small offices and 1-3 floors above that being affordable housing.
posted by: Gary Holder-Winfield on July 22, 2010 1:58pm
I for one hope that the project is a success. having spoken to some of my constituents who have said they were given the runaround when attempting to get a hold of the plan and who asked me to attend to express their concerns i did just that. having been at the management team meetings during presentations I know that they were done but I was not there because of the presentation I was there just because I attend - it was happenstance. I have offered to help get the word out if I am informed in advance. Putting that kind of information in my mailers is more useful than promoting the things I have done anyway. My online contact with the community can be used also. Again, the point is that there are ways to bring the community into the conversation that have not been utilized and should. regardless of what people think of some of the individuals present there are legitimate concerns which arise out of the community and can be better addressed.
posted by: Townie on July 22, 2010 2:24pm
To require any private company to hire from a specific community is ludicrous and will only prevent companies from moving into an area. The community “leaders” should instead urge the community members to adapt to the change, i.e. job/vocational training and an emphasis on higher education. According to John Hopkins the people in the community that surrounds the vacant factory is not smart enough to obtain employment from Higher One or similar firms. If this is true than so be it. non-skilled industry is dead in Connecticut, it has been for a long time. The people of Newhallville must adapt or their neighborhoods will be slowly taken over by re-migrating suburbanites that don’t want to pay for gas, parking, etc.
posted by: jayj on July 22, 2010 2:25pm
okay, just a couple of things, first, I happen to like Banana Republic. First, it is not the developers job to ensure you have a job. That’s your job. You need to make sure that your skills are current and desirable - just like everyone else in the world. Otherwise, things will pass you by. Secondly, just because businesses are opening in your neighborhood does not guarantee you a job. I don’t have the luxury of working in my neighborhood. Get the skills that these businesses need and make yourself marketable. Lastly, for all the property owners there, don’t you think that this development will increase your property values? If you are not opening your arms and welcoming this project in, you are foolish. Take a look at Bridgeport!!! Is anyone knocking their doors down to develop their old factory’s??? NO, and the city still suffers. Stop looking at the negatives and look at the positives. We have an economy that is failing - and there is someone knocking on our door. Welcome them in.
Less than 18 months ago both Winstanley and David Silverstone were in front of this same commission asking for approval for the parking lot and a water chiller plant attached to the parking lot. This water chiller was to proceed under ground up canal street some 1/2 mile to the new Dormitories. The city of New Haven was to provide liability insurance for the underground pipes should a rupture occur. This feature was added in exchange for the pittance of a play ground for kids near the YPD station.
The plan was incorporated into the PDD and approved by this same commission, which included Roland Lemar.
There was no mention at that time for the building of apartments in the plan, this feature was intentionally left out due to the neighborhoods objection to building new apartments in the city’s NewHallville housing revitalization tract without the city ever addressing housing in and around lower Winchester Ave, Starr, Thompson and other Streets in the area.
Fast forward to today’s commission hearing, where we have winstanley and silverstone now lobbying for the new housing tract,without the water chiller which was previously approved, but now silent,they once again ignored the housing and job concerns registered by the neighborhood then, as now.
Naparstak said “developers went to both the Newhallville and Dixwell community management team meetings and made presentations about the project”.
However, Winstanley said “the developers have worked hard to reach out to the community. But, he said, he has never received a call asking for him to come to a meeting”.
Ed Mattison said “The neighborhood, in a sense, has to get its act together,” he said. Neighbors need to make clear and reasonable requests, he said.
A clear case of blaming the neighborhood for the communication defect, and unanimously voting for a plan twice rejected by the neighborhood.
“We got sort of sold out here tonight,” said Pastor Marks.
An understatement. I add the words… Got sold out again.
posted by: ehop on July 22, 2010 2:41pm
I think the key issue in the redevelopment plans for the Winchester area are who will benefit. The abandoned Winchester factory is a living history of the Dixwell/Newhallville area. A once glorious manufacturing plant has since been abandoned, ignored and become unsuitable for habitation of any sort, whether manufacturing base or otherwise. The area surrounding it has followed suit.
It is my opinion that any redevelopment plan of the Winchester factory should positively impact the surrounding neighborhood, as well as the city at large. In order to uplift the blighted neighborhood, the citizens in that neighborhood need sustainable jobs (living wages or control over labor, benefits, etc.), first and foremost. I believe Marks’ questions to the board and to the developers were very poignant and appropriate to discovering what the goals of the development are and I appreciate his efforts. When a developer and prospective business consider a site and model for development they more likely than not have a business plan which includes prospective job growth, impact, profits, etc. The very fact that Marks’ questions on community jobs could not be answered undermines the developers’ credibility in their ability to deal with the problems facing the very community which surrounds their development sight. Marks’ comments on a Banana Republic (private profit from exploitation of public resources/land) might be well deserved.
Furthermore, in dealing with the development of a blighted and poverty stricken area, extraordinary measures must be taken in order to ensure community members’ involvement and understanding. (I say extraordinary efforts b/c the community faces extraordinary problems). I am not convinced that proper communication with the community of the project occurred. (I point to Marks’ comment for this ““If the community doesn’t have the actual plans, what’s the point of testifying?” he asked.”)
The bottom line here again is who will benefit from this development? If it is not the blighted community in the immediate area then we as a city will not benefit.
posted by: Gary Holder-Winfield on July 22, 2010 2:49pm
First, I asked a legitimate question. That by the way was a means of getting my constituents voice heard (at least the ones who contacted me about it). Second, I am not keeping anyones company I was in the same room with people who have their own reason(s) for being there. Also, I don’t believe that people are static so there will be times when I will be with (or at least perceived as being with) one “side” or the other. At one time or another I have had both agreement and disagreement with most of the players in the city what does that say?
posted by: Threefifths on July 22, 2010 3:32pm
This is just the beginnig.The community better wake up,It is just a matter of time before yale steps in and does what Columbia University in new york is doing.
Hey Higher One—forget about building in New Haven—build your business in an outlying town. At least they will appreciate the taxes you pay, and the jobs you bring in, and the shear quality of your business. More than likely, you won’t have to face ... Kimber either- a man with a rancid and clouded history. Maybe once the community sees how business/ jobs go elsewhere instead of their own backyard, they will dethrone these ... once and for all.
posted by: kgilvarg on July 22, 2010 4:13pm
The PDD plans can be reviewed at the City Plan Department, 5th floor City Hall 165 Church Street New Haven, from 9am to 5pm. Also at the Office of Legislative Services on the second floor, and at the office of the City-Town Clerk at 200 Orange Street. The submission incudes a narrative, maps and renderings and an initial traffic study.
Townie, I think you misread what I said. I do not think the entire Newhallville population is uneducated. The majority of the neighborhood’s residents are already employed, pay mortgages and/or rent. The population I was talking about was the group living in that neighborhood that faces chronic unemployment. Those people are overwhelmingly undereducated and unskilled and many have criminal records. To me, the choice seems to be to either help these people become productive members of society instead of drains or destructive to it, or we can expect them to magically erase their police records, educate themselves, make a professional degree out of thin air all the while providing housing, food and clothing for themselves. If we are going to help this group, we can take two approaches. 1) Make them employable in a services based economy that relies heavily on a financial base by subsidizing their GED and higher education, and their housing which they would likely be unable to pay for. This would be enormously expensive and might back fire like a lot of other programs. 2) Using the waves of European immigrants from a century ago as a model, we provide jobs for the existing unemployed population, which stabilizes families enough to allow future generations the opportunities of education that previous one’s didn’t have. My first post on this article was coming from the perspective of this second option.
Simply expecting people to pull themselves up by their boot straps is fine and a perfectly legitimate opinion to have. However, expecting this to solve inner city problems or poverty in general is not acceptable because it has been made extremely clear over the decades that this is not gunna happen. There are severe levels of social degradation, physical deterioration and economic depression in areas of this city’s neighborhoods and social pressure for people to overcome an enormous history of oppression is entirely unrealistic. People need to either have the opportunity of education that they didn’t previously have, or they need meaningful employment that gives them a sense of purpose and the pride that comes with providing others with goods or services they need, which is most easily achieved through manufacturing jobs or working in a locally owned business or store. Meaningful employment is not a McDonald’s uniform, which merely supplies people with obesity, neither is WalMart, which just supports the continued deindustrialization of this country. Access to a good education is a civil right. I would argue that nearly everyone in this city who went to school had access to a good education, regardless of the school. Unfortunately, this country doesn’t seem access to good neighborhoods as a civil right so the issues of mugging, gun violence, group beatings, etc that occurs in our neighborhoods contributed a lot to people not receiving a full education in the schools. It’s not easy to do well in school if you get jumped on your way home everyday (this happens way more than people think and it isn’t reported to police). Since your grades are reflective of situations like this, many kids will just drop out of school and look to become a tough guy in the streets so people don’t mess with them. Then jail comes, then chronic unemployment. It’s still reasonable to say no handouts, no subsidies, no dependency, but just realize things will get worse. Welfare doesn’t need to be stopped, it needs to be replaced with employment or be replaced more expensively with education.
posted by: Sunday on July 22, 2010 4:46pm
I urge the commission to approve the plan because it is needed at the sight. The “johnnies come lately” as the saying goes came there for their own agenda to see what they can get out of the deal not because they are really concerned about the neighborhood because they don’t live in Newhallville. Only the state-rep does. They should be trying to stop the violence over there on a consistently basic not when someone get shot. They should be asking for a job training center so these kids are prepared to apply for a job. How are you going to demand that someone hire you when you don’t have the skills to do the job. I’m just trying to make some sense out of all of this grand-standing.
29 Churches on Dixwell Ave. Total taxes paid: $1395.14 Many of these properties were transferred from the city to “pastors” (is that like having the Bat Phone? http://tiny.cc/s6y7t ) For way below market value. Who would have thought that imaginary beings would be the main industrial sector in Dixwell? Now who is responsible for keeping people ignorant? I’m surprised that no one raised the issue of the college tuition debt bondage model. Now that people have realized that they can walk away from their mortgages, the government has trapped them into perpetual student loan debt and the myth of continuing education. The factories and the population were sold out to NAFTA.
posted by: NH on July 22, 2010 5:37pm
If residents of Newhallville and Dixwell would like jobs at HigherOne, I’d suggest for them to go back to school, and after that, apply for the jobs. Why would HigherOne settle for a townie who has no experience when they can higher somebody from the suburbs who is wealthy enough to have tons of experience?
posted by: Louis on July 22, 2010 5:43pm
Let’s face it. if the developers were black, there would be no opposition.
posted by: Funky Chicken on July 22, 2010 5:46pm
... Dr. Kimber and ... Rev. Marks ... are trying to shake down the developer. This project will bring in much needed tax revenue for the city, and will develop a parcel of land that has been laying unused for years.
I too question why a good person like Rep Winfield Holder would be working with ... Kimber and Marks.
One thing I would ask is that the developer commit to abide by the CEO hiring program. That is probably the best way to make sure that New Haven residents get jobs on the work site.
posted by: nfjanette on July 22, 2010 6:12pm
Looking on the potential bright side of this story and some comments: if this experience doesn’t chase Higher One away from the city into the hands of the many welcoming suburban towns - where they will face close to none of this drama - I doubt anything will. Then Jonathan and the community activists can continue to build upon their history of success redeveloping the great factory complexes in the area.
posted by: DavidK on July 22, 2010 10:00pm
In the 19th century, Winchester was bigger than GM, Ford or Chrysler. Now, the auto industry is struggling to compete in this new environment. If New Haven does not adapt to this environment, we will become like Detroit. Our future depends on our ability to adapt.
posted by: sm on July 22, 2010 10:26pm
This is a classic attempt of what’s in it for me by Marks and Kimber. A private company wants to bring jobs and fill dormant space in New Haven but God forbid that happen without the ... exacting their tribute.
How can anyone be against this idea: Any place that employs people and would ordinarily provide parking could take a certain number of parking spaces out of the plan and never build them. Each space not built saves $7,000 for the employment place that’s paying for construction. Instead of using that money for parking, the business, store, school, whatever employment place it is, redirects that money to subsidize housing that is within walking distance of the workplace or along a transit line that requires only one bus trip to get from home to work. Doing this would reduce the amount of asphalt at the site, thereby reducing the water runoff into the city’s sewer systems and allowing the potential for more developable land or green space.
Nfjanette, This Winstanley, Higher One business proposal is not ideal, but it’s probably as good as it’s gunna get so I am actually in support of it. Merely suggesting some common sense ideas to the developers and Higher One that wouldv vastly improve the adjacent neighborhoods at little to no extra cost seems pretty reasonable, no?
Oh yeah, and the long term benefits of living in a walkable community is better health, which would reduce the costs to the company for providing healthcare to employees. I know weird right, it’s almost like I’m for sustainable development that doesn’t make people sick and bankrupt companies, individuals and municipalities with burdensome and unnecessary costs.
posted by: Fred Johnson on July 23, 2010 12:09am
At some point in time those who produce, i.e. jobs, opportunities, wealth..will get sick and tired of having to beg permission from those who produce nothing.
posted by: yz on July 23, 2010 1:29am
What I see here is a information lapse. Presentations were made at management team meetings; the plans were available at City Hall. From my reading of the article, it does not sound like the Rev. Marks and Kimber were aware of all this. Everyone is busy; everyone doesn’t have time, but being informed about developments in one’s own community is imperative for community leaders.
This is a development that will put to use decaying, vacant property. This is a development that will grow the city’s tax base, taxes that fund services in the community. It is overall a good development for the entire city. Now there certainly are valid community concerns to be addressed about the impact of the project. But to oppose the project on the grounds that it doesn’t offer jobs to the surrounding communities is fallacious. Businesses offer a variety of jobs, and no applicant is prejudged for living in Dixwell or Newhallville. Their employees are also business opportunities to neighborhood residents like Mr. Covington. The factories and manufacturing plants are not coming back. New England’s economy has shifted. I don’t see the former factory buildings in Boston churning manufactured goods; they’ve been turned into office space.
These factories have broken windows and rusting window frames. They are a terrible gateway into the area. We can either take this project, which is a reasonable reuse of unproductive land, or we can sit and do nothing. What sort of jobs are the Rev. Marks and Kimber looking for anyway? Modern manufacturing plants also need educated workers.
posted by: Where are you getting this on July 23, 2010 5:39am
This was an event open to the public and because Rep Winfield happens to be featured in the same article with Rev Kimber and Marks people assume he is “running with the”. He has proven time and time again that he is independent why couldn’t it be as he explained that people asked him to attend for them and ask his question? He is a good guy that should not be getting grief for doing what he is elected to do. As for the others I think even if they were in it for the right reasons their history makes that hard to believe.
posted by: Mbg on July 23, 2010 5:42am
Banana Republic? Seriously?
Where’s MY Rev. Al Sharpton?
Stop whining and complaining Newhallville, someone is actually doing something positive for the community!
posted by: Townie on July 23, 2010 8:13am
Hopkins: The waves of European immigrants that came to this country had jobs waiting for them. That is why the immigration laws were relatively lax, the new industry in places like New Haven, Waterbury, Bridgeport, etc., needed a workforce and most “native” Americans did not want to take up factory work or similar employment. That is why immigrants continue to come to this country; to do the jobs the citizens think they are too good to do. The European immigrants recognized that the level they were in was not the level they wanted their children and grandchildren to be in. So, they emphasized education, good behavior and civic participation. The Newhalville area has also taken this idea to heart and I think those are the people that understand the benefits of rebuilding the Winchester plant. The ones that complain about it are the ones who think that the city government and private industry owe them something. It is this ethos of expectation and dependance that will continue to cripple many neighborhoods in New Haven. Access to nice neighborhoods and employment is not a civil right, it is a privilege. If certain people want to continue to wait for their piece of the “American dream” then they will be waiting a long time and those who stand idle will be those who suffer and they will continue to suffer until they realize that the only way to realize the American dream is through hard work and sacrifice. Success in this nation is not a gift that is dispensed, it must be taken.
posted by: angelo reyes on July 23, 2010 8:27am
i like the project.i dont like the comment that there a private sector and arnt required to help.they should be required to help.i would push more internship programs.dont forget tomorrow’s leaders.
posted by: Threefifths on July 23, 2010 9:30am
Where are you getting this on July 23, 2010 5:39am
This was an event open to the public and because Rep Winfield happens to be featured in the same article with Rev Kimber and Marks people assume he is “running with the”. He has proven time and time again that he is independent why couldn’t it be as he explained that people asked him to attend for them and ask his question? He is a good guy that should not be getting grief for doing what he is elected to do. As for the others I think even if they were in it for the right reasons their history makes that hard to believe.
If you are a independent politician then you would be in the independent party.As long as you belong to the crooked two party Democratic and Republican Party you are not a independent.
Townie, I don’t think the people who oppose this plan are wrong, just misguided. Their efforts to stop the plan or to demand that Higher One employs locals would be better spent on improving the project and creating opportunities to bring future Higher One employees into the neighborhood as a way of rejuvenating a network of local commerce on Winchester Avenue that can serve as employment for the existing population and provide goods and services for a middle class population.
Although I disagree with a lot of your other points, I don’t want to write another long post explaining my position.
posted by: ELD4676 on July 23, 2010 1:03pm
God forbid someone tries to build or bring something positive to Newhallville. If you’d rather have an old abandoned eyesore, wait I mean “historic” building, than a revitalized revenue earning structure, which could dramatically benefit the surrounding neighborhoods, then please refrain from making any future appeals that Newhallville needs help and programs. Help is standing on your doorstep.
posted by: robn on July 23, 2010 1:09pm
The idea of job opportunities for neighborhood people is a nice one, but its disingenuous for you to promote the idea that manufacturing can return to New Haven when there are 3 billion Chinese and Indian peasants who will work for %0.50/hour….and its disingenuous to think that it “could” happen if we reverse a historical trend toward relaxation of trade barriers. Its also disingenuous to suggest that the New York/Stamford comparison is anything even close to what we’re talking about here….those are hedge funds and other financial companies that exist in a rarefied bubble seen in just a handful of cities.
This city needs more tax base and whether or not people in the neighborhood get jobs, the project will be good for them by adding to the grand list.
posted by: Townie on July 23, 2010 4:13pm
This may be a bit off topic, but I am tired of hearing this call to “rebuild the middle class.” It’s ridiculous that our only thought, in the year 2010, is to repair the socio-economic class system which cannot exist without a strong and permanent lower-class, a system that depends on the subjugation of certain people. Why can’t social and economic progress focus on the creation of an equitable society that is based on the basic concepts of libertarian-socialism? Are we to always expect the middle to be the best the most of us can achieve? I am all for industry and I would fully support a labour union buying the building and creating a cooperative, so the union actually owns the means of production and the profits go directly to the labour. But, that will never happen. Unions have been Americanized and so we are faced with our reality, we are slaves to a system that we created. We can argue and comment on the poor quality of the current economy, we can squabble over zoning issues and we can ignore the blaring truth. In a few years a very small percentage of people in this area will own the lion share of property and wealth. The rest of us will either be forced out of towne or made to live in menial circumstances and work soul crushing monotonous jobs (a lot of us do already). Or the worst case scenario, we will be forced to live on the welfare of the state.
posted by: FIX THE SCHOOLS on July 23, 2010 5:44pm
“The rest of us will either be forced out of town or made to live in menial circumstances and work soul crushing monotonous jobs (a lot of us do already). Or the worst case scenario, we will be forced to live on the welfare of the state. “
....that is unless we EDUCATE ourselves, Townie! And in so doing, we equip ourselves (or our children) with the tools to navigate life in New Haven and the global economy on our own terms.
Break out of the current mindset! The world is our oyster! New Haven sits atop the educational equivalent of a Saudi oil-field! If we get our K-12 act together, these sorts of depressing dialogues between neighbors need not happen here.
To paraphrase a former famous campaign manager: In the 21st century, it’s the knowledge, stupid!
robn, I am in support of this proposal and I hope that the community members will push for a homebuyers program from Higher One (that can be paid for by the savings created in not building as many parking spaces) instead of trying to block the proposal. I think it is in the best interest of the community that the long term goal of bringing manufacturing to the neighborhood may be worth the short term loses of this proposal being blocked. We could argue about that, but I accept that the argument for this continuing this planned development is stronger. If I don’t move me legs, I’m not going to walk. Likewise, if we don’t take steps at a federal, state, regional and local level to bring back manufacturing, it’s not just going to happen naturally. That point is obvious. The question isn’t whether or not its possible-it is possible-the question is what steps need to be taken. In no specific order: 1.Immediate repeal of NAFTA 2.Lowering the cost of living to justify lowering wages (ie transportation costs makes up 25-35% of the average American income, wages can be reduced by 25% if jobs are within walking distance of homes, which they would be in Newhallville) 3.Lowering healthcare and benefits costs by improving health (more walking means less pollution and more exercise therefore lower health care costs) 4.Immediately stop subsidizing roads-if they don’t pay for themselves they shouldn’t exist (urbanism supports modest road costs, suburbanism doesn’t) 5.Heavily subsidize cargo and passenger rail and local transit networks until they can support themselves 6.Create massive tax incentives and subsidies for historic preservation and rehabilitation of factory buildings, for workforce housing urban infill and historic housing rehab 7.Encourage (or force) companies that wish to sell to the American public to also hire Americans to produce the goods
If we need to subsidize manufacturing of goods in the same way that we subsidize the manufacturing our of food until the costs of transcontinental importing/exporting are outweighed by peak oil then so be it. There are viable and realizable ways of making it more expensive to import from overseas and less expensive to produce in this country.
posted by: cartonero on July 23, 2010 8:17pm
The pastors and politicians have learned THEIR lessons well, for THEY are the rulers of the Newhallville/Dixwell banana republic. They only seek to extract their cut from the investment the developers want to make.
This development will change the neighborhood in ways they cannot control. It would have been a sellout if the commission had sided with them.
NOTICE: to the 37 posters regarding this story. come and express your opinion as you have here.
THE LEGISLATION COMMITTEE WILL MEET ON THURSDAY, JULY 29, 2010 AT 5:30 P.M. IN THE ALDERMANIC CHAMBER OF CITY HALL, 165 CHURCH STREET, TO HEAR:
ZONING ORDINANCE AMENDMENT AND ZONING ORDINANCE MAP AMENDMENT APPROVING EXPANSION OF SCIENCE PARK PLANNED DEVELOPMENT DISTRICT #49 TO INCLUDE PARCELS OF LAND KNOWN AS 275 WINCHESTER AVENUE (MAP 256/BLOCK 0393/PARCEL 00102), 315 WINCHESTER AVENUE(MAP 256/BLOCK 0393/PARCEL 00106) and 270 MANSFIELD STREET (MAP 256/BLOCK 0393/PARCEL 00105) (collectively “NEW PARCEL L”), APPROVING DIMENSIONAL, PARKING, LOADING AND OTHER DEVIATIONS FROM THE REQUIREMENTS OF PDD #49 AND THE IH ZONE FOR NEW PARCEL L AND FOR EXISTING PARCEL K AND APPROVING USES FOR PARCEL L AND ADDITIONAL USES FOR EXISTING PARCELS C, D, F, G, J, AND K
posted by: robn on July 24, 2010 9:50am
So if the rich are brought down and the poor are brought up, even though there isn’t a middle anymore, aren’t the middle class still in the same place? Or are you suggesting that we all should be poor or that we all should be rich? Please expound.
posted by: Observer on July 24, 2010 12:52pm
THE TRUTH; ‘As a Newhallville activist branded them “thieves” trying to set up a “banana republic,” developers convinced the City Plan Commission to advance a $40 million revitalization of a shuttered rifle factory and dormant neighborhood gateway.’ AS ALWAYS THE POOR PAYS FOR THE RICH AND POWERFUL
posted by: robn on July 24, 2010 3:23pm
Yeah lets just eliminate NAFTA and most favored trade status for China and then, since the average American worker makes $17.00/hr and the average Chinese makes $.50/hr, the cost of manufactured goods will increase by 34X and Americans will dramatically decrease their purchases of manufactured goods because they can’t afford them and then the new manufacturing jobs will quickly cease to exist. And thats keeping wages at their already historical lows, not increasing them as you seem to imagine.
Or maybe we do what you suggest and then all manufacturing jobs return to southern US border states where Mexican labor is effectively slave labor, or maybe if you solve that problem then the factories return in the rural south where non-union labor is dirt cheap and bible belt conservatives continue to vote against their own best interests, empowering really nasty bosses. Or maybe we can legislate against the return of manufacturing to the south and force manufacturers to come to the Northeast where labor is expensive, taxes are high, land costs are high, environmental regulations are stricter, energy coast more, etc…
See what i mean? I’ll tell you what…if your left hand is for catching wishes come true and your right hand is for catching BS…cup your hands and hold both out in front of you…see which hand fill up first.
posted by: Jenn on July 24, 2010 5:28pm
NEw Haven liberals led by Jonathan Hopkins: WE WANT INDUSTRY!!! WE WANT PEOPLE TO LEAVE THE SUBURBS AND MAKE THIS CITY THRIVE!!11111!!!
Developer: Ok, we want to come to New Haven and do this, this and this.
New Haven liberals: OH NOES!!!! It won’t work, it’s too noisy/big/ridiculous/ruin the city (snort)/won’t help the disadvantaged etc
Developer: Ok, thanks but no thanks. We’re going to *insert town/city/state/here*
New Haven: Experiences another term under King John, crime goes up, education system flounders…
In order to ATTRACT business, you need an attractive space. Manufacturing is dead and gone, Jon. Get over it and try living in the 21st century. It’s kind of nice.
posted by: ehop on July 25, 2010 4:00pm
Robn, I’m a little confused about your posts. You seem to acknowledge the problems of world poverty associated with NAFTA and China’s abhorrent labor practices, yet you do not offer an alternative. What is your stance on international trade? Do you think China’s low wages are justifiable? If not, how can you change them? If yes, why?
JH- Thank you for offering an alternative to our present situation. I agree with you that NAFTA should be eliminated.
I also think that the U.S. should not be trading with countries who do not uphold international labor standards. Many of the cheap goods we buy in the U.S. have artificially low prices because they are manufactured in countries with poor labor standards. I believe it to be immoral and contrary to human rights and global social justice to support these practices by trading with these countries. To resolve these international labor problems we should urge congress to enforce our trade practices based on the International Labor Code of the International Labor Organization, which is the agency of the UN dealing with international labor issues. If a country does not treat its workers’ well we should not allow them the pleasure of bringing their goods in to the glorious (not to be read sarcastically) U.S. market.
So, the redevelopment plans for this area could include space for not so distant future manufacturing as JH desires. But more importantly, we as a city should not pounce on any offer that comes to the table. If a sound proposal for redevelopment benefits the surrounding community and the city then lets take it, if not, let them go somewhere else. An increased tax base and a better looking building are enticing, I agree, but I think we can do better and benefit much greater in the short term and long term.
“In order to ATTRACT business, you need an attractive space.” Jenn, I’ve said numerous times that trying to physically improve neighborhoods is a good way to attract businesses and middle class homeowners and I’m very much in favor of the work that various groups like Neighborhood Housing Services, Habitat for Humanity, URI, etc have done to beautify neighborhoods. I also don’t lead anybody. Just looking at NHI its clear that most people very much dislike my comments, although I attribute a lot of that to my poor writing skills because an objective look at my views reveals that my suggestions are very modest and try to work within our current systems. I’m not preaching Marxism or advocating changing from paper currency to food currency. The narrowness of American politics must be severely distorting your view. “Manufacturing is dead and gone, Jon. Get over it and try living in the 21st century. It’s kind of nice.” Kind of nice for who? Nice for unemployed people who live in neighborhoods built for jobs that have been sent over seas? Nice for a shrinking middle class that is trying and failing to support an unsustainable lifestyle? I’m not longing for smoke stacks and horse manure covered streets, I justsee local manufacturing as the key ingredient in centralizing wealth to make urbanism prosperous again and uplift undereducated, poor and unskilled populations to be additions to the economy instead of drains on it.
robn, There are a million ways that reindustrialization can back fire, there are also a million ways that sending a rocket to Mars can go wrong, luckily there are people smarter than both of us that can figure these things out when political pressure, public support, and funding align. The average American worker supports a lifestyle of inefficiency, so $17 and hour is needed for large private housing lot maintenance, energy inefficient homes, driving everywhere for everything, health care for a lifestyle of eating crap and not exercising or being over prescribed medicine in an economy and health care industry that rely to heavily on a sick populace, expensive home-builders association approved houses, frequent replacement of cheap Chinese products that fill our landfills (that’s free, right?), etc. Luckily, Newhallville is a very modest neighborhood that, if redeveloped currently, would offer its residents the ability to pay nothing for transportation, very little for health care and housing, and instead of families buying everything individually, a walkable community allows for the shared investment of things like parks, playgrounds, gardens, pools, etc. $17 an hour would be an absurd wage. Also what’s it cost to transport goods regionally versus globally? I don’t deny this would be enormously difficult, time consuming, and take a degree of restructuring that hasn’t happened since mid century, but it’s absolutely possible and viable if the living arrangement, networks of commerce, agricultural set up and annexing of suburbs (along with retrofitting) is done.
posted by: robn on July 27, 2010 8:33am
I’ve got two simple solutions, either of which might work.
1) First you take on Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan and all of the other big investment banks and hedge funds that have an interest in imbalanced currencies ...oh and also Walmart which has an interest in cheap foreign goods. Once you’ve done that you’ve got to get Congress to undo a decade of law. Then you’ve got to solve the Mexican border problem, otherwise, there will be virtual slave labor manufacturing in the Southwest. Then you’ve got to reindustrialize the entire nation (hoping that energy resources remain bountiful) and hope we don’t destroy whats left of our ecosystem.
2) Convince the Chinese people to rebel against their totalitarian government (which they may or may not do because their QOL is rising) but if they do, tems of millions will die in a bloody revolution. The when they’re done you’ve got to convince the new government to reset their currency and raise all wages to be the equivalent of US wages or instead, create a tariff agreement that acknowledges the differences in labor compensation, whereupon manufacturing will equalize and millions in China will lose their jobs, fomenting another revolution.
robn, Those both sound interesting, but I’d prefer trying to go after the Home Builders Association, municipal zoning ordinances, and Bank loaning practices in an effort to redirect growth back into already populated areas. Instead of allowing inner cities to continue to rot, and inner suburbs from continuing to be abandoned because of increasing diversity in favor of newer and further out homogeneous suburbs, we need focus on infill projects, historic rehabilitation, suburban fringe salvaging for reuse projects, and suburban retrofitting and it needs to be easier and cheaper to do these projects that to do new green field projects. This would help populate cities with more middle class residents especially if coupled with homebuyers programs through our schools. Many of the issues currently facing inner cities would go away because demand for retail and services would grow in our neighborhoods, which could be provided by the current unemployed population. Bottom line is that this country, sooner rather than later, needs to start making tangible things of value that people want and need. It’s pretty clear that in the absence of manufacturing we decided to shift all our weight into finance, which has proven to be completely unstable and destructive. A minor amount of reindustrialization in the northeast and mid west in the places were it used to be makes sense. This would help fill the small void of unemployment that could not be filled in the retail or service sectors of rejuvenated neighborhood districts. It would be viable with the lower cost of living (therefore lower wages) that would be created through the consolidation of the living arrangement, which would also make rail viable and privately profitable again. The south west is a mess and might as well just be given back to mexico. We have artificially populated entire urban areas down there by re-routing massive amounts of water to places that don’t naturally have much. It’s the most unsustainable part of our country.
posted by: robn on July 27, 2010 1:06pm
Your bottom line is based upon an unachievable goal; the return of low-skill manufacturing jobs to our poor neighborhoods.
I think demand for low-skill jobs will outlive our desire (hopefully not ability) to pay for the highest incarceration rates on the planet, the militarized police war on drugs, aimless middle east wars, the artificial propping up of the underclass through entitlement payments that have proven to be ineffective at addressing poverty, the artificial propping up of our living arrangement-transportation networks included-through virtual financial games and throwing our accumulated wealth away, the health costs resulting from auto-dependency and immensely subsidized industrial mono-crop farms, etc. At a certain point the excuse of manufacturing being an unachievable goal will be a luxury we don’t have. It could be as simple as the government contracting a million citizens to rebuild the abandoned national rail road infrastructure, which would require GM to start building trains, trolleys and their cargo-carrying counterparts. I just don’t see a future in importing brooms, furniture, and clothes from 8,000 miles away.
Back to my original point though, is there any reason why Higher One shouldn’t or can’t create a home buyers program funded at least partially by money saved on constructing parking infrastructure? With a decent marketing campaign that uses any of the NHSNH projects ( http://www.nhsofnewhaven.org/completed-houses/hill.html ) and reconstructed schools with the state’s best facilities as examples, there is no reason why Newhallville and Dixwell cannot be home to a sizable middle class population that could support local networks of commerce with employees from today’s unemployed population. At worst nothing would change and at best this would be a huge success that could be used as a model for changing banking loan practices, home buildings association standards, and the general American disdain towards urbanism. Even if industry is decades off, relocalized agricultural presents another opportunity that is perhaps easier to address.
posted by: robn on July 27, 2010 6:46pm
Believe me..I share your desire for many of the things you mention, however, never underestimate the power of greed to dampen progress and destroy the things others have built. There are many powerful people out there who know that they can profit from chaos and therefore encourage its coming.
posted by: robn on July 28, 2010 11:20pm
JH…thought you might enjoy….This just in…kind of a Swiftian version of all I’ve been writing…
Discussions and debate such as this are why I continue to read the New Haven Independent. This is the very essence of civic discussion.
Jonathan, while I agree with you that manufacturing -which I’m defining as the creation of actual things, not just the providing of services- Modern manufacturing has entirely different needs for physical space. I work at a manufacturing company, we make actual things here in the city (jet engine components). There is no way we could use the Wwinch-esterbuildings. We need open and ideally climate controlled flat 1 story floorspace.
Look at Sargent/Assa Abloy and even what winchester built further down the street as to what heavy manufacturing’s needs are. And let me tell you, it’s not a lack of jobs or work that are keeping heavy manufacturing out of the cities and out of the US, as people have pointed there are titanic, like trillion dollar, titanic reasons why it’s not coming back for a very long time.
However, light manufacturing? That’s something entirely different, and that I think has a future in small and large cities. While I think we’re at a nascent stage of this, look at companies like Timbuk2 and Dodocase on the computer side, making high valu locally manufactured products to fill an enthusiast market. Models such as that could thrive in the city.
Regarding improving neighborhoods, i’m a zillion percent for homebuyers programs, but I also warn you that the communities that the homebuying takes place might not be so happy about a bunch of Higher-One employees moving down their block.
That’s the flip side of gentrification, and I think something that will go over time as diversity in individual new haven neighborhoods increase. However, there is incredible resistance for non-neighborhood people to move into other neighborhoods.
When I was buying my house I looked at a house I thought was a good deal on the “wrong side of the tracks.” Within a minute of leaving my car, I was verbally harassed an insulted by several people asking what I was doing looking at this house, and that I’d better not be thinking of buying it. Needless to say, I left without even looking at the place. Why in the world would I move to a place I wasn’t welcome? Thiis is a huge issue that speaks to the antagonism that communities in New Haven have with each other, and meetings such as what happened here are fallout of this.
But, I agree with you, that technocratic solutions such as the homebuyers programs can and need to be implemented to help improve neighborhoods. They may amount to small pebbles to begin with, but over time will have an effect.
posted by: Alan Felder on July 29, 2010 10:09pm
Supremacy: the state or condition of being supreme
In the 20th century America had mostly in the South White Citizen Councils where Blacks had no input into what was taking place in their own community, what is taking place at Science Park? What is taking place at the Planning and Zoning board? look at the racial makeup of most Boards and Commissions in The City of New Haven. How dear we judge the late and former Governor of Alabama George Wallace and the late and former Public Safety Commissioner Eugene “Bull” Connor? In his inauguration speech Gov. George Wallace said .......... I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever, what a profound and prophetic statement. In the 21st century where are we?