Yale Goes One For Two
| Aug 8, 2017 2:32 pm
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Posted to: City Hall, Higher Ed, Housing, Downtown
The Board of Alders Monday enabled one major project on Yale University’s development to-do list to move ahead and delayed another.
At their August monthly meeting, the alders used their unanimous consent power to vote (rather than wait a month or more to vote) in favor of certifying that no amendment is needed to the university’s parking plan for its medical area, clearing the way for the Yale Child Study to move from three locations to one at 350 George St.
But a Wooster Square alder denied unanimous consent to allow the university similar certification for a project that would transform the Hall of Graduate Studies at 320 York St. from student housing to instructional space.
Yale was preparing to go to the City Plan Commission next week with site plans for both projects. Now it will be able to present plans only for making the former Frontier Communications call center at 350 George into laboratory and clinical space for the center and Yale School of Medicine faculty and staff affiliated with the center.
Yale bought the 350 George property from Carter Winstanley in early 2016 after it learned that Alexion Pharmaceuticals planned to use every floor of its 100 College St. headquarters. Yale purchased the three-story, 119,000 square-foot office building for $16.5 million, several million shy of the $20 million that Winstanley paid in 2015 for the property which was formerly a call center for Frontier Communications. (Read more about the sale here.)
In a letter to Board of Alder President Tyisha Walker dated July 27, John Bollier, Yale associate vice president for facilities, said the university has submitted an application to City Commission to change the use of the former call center to a university use to facilitate the consolidation of the Yale Child Study Center. The center currently operates in three downtown locations 230 Frontage Road, 40 Temple St., and 98/100 York St.
“All of which is a source of confusion and frustration for families,” Bollier noted in his letter. “The laboratory space will support research at the Yale School of Medicine.”
Because the former Frontier building is located in a business district, or BD, zone, Yale is permitted by right to change the use of the space to a university use.
“The renovation to the interior space includes building and life/fire safety upgrades, mechanical and electrical upgrades, and installation of new interior partitions, finishes, lighting, and furniture. A new roof will be installed and new windows will be installed in the existing building façade,” Bollier wrote. “No parking spaces will be added or lost as a result of the project. There is no parking requirement for university use in a BD district. Further, parking will not be required under the zoning ordinance in any event because the faculty and staff are being relocated from other nearby University facilities, the University uses to be located in the building are existing, no new faculty or staff will be added, and no places of assembly will be created.”
Work at 350 George St. is expected to start in early 2018 and be completed by June 2019.
But now it’s unclear when work will be able to begin at the Hall of Graduate Studies. Yale needs alders to give it a similar OK on a parking plan for the Central/Science Campus in order move forward with a site plan review for converting graduate student housing at 320 York St. into academic space.
Yale graduate students will have new housing starting in the fall of 2018 in the form of a six-story building that boasts 41 two-bedroom units, currently under construction at 272 Elm St. The university seeks to make the Hall of Graduate Studies into a center for humanities that features a 300-seat lecture hall and a 100-seat film screening room/classroom. As with the 350 George St. project, Yale maintains that parking spaces would not be added or lost with the 320 York St. project.
But the large lecture hall and the classroom gave pause Monday night to Wooster Square Alder Aaron Greenberg, who also happens to preside over Yale’s new graduate student union. Greenberg voted against speeding up the alders process for moving legislation by voting against unanimous consent. That means the matter now gets assigned to an alder committee to review; then if the committee votes to approve the plan, it returns to the full board for consideration.
“I know that building pretty well,” Greenberg said. “I have some questions when plans are calling for a 100-seat film screening room and a 300-seat lecture hall and its impact on traffic, transit, and parking. I think my colleagues need more information.”
Lauren Zucker, associate vice president for New Haven Affairs and University Properties, said failure to move the Hall of Graduate Studies project along Monday night means that it can’t go before City Plan next week. Work was estimated to start on the 320 York St. project in June 2018 and be completed in July 2020.
She said that delays the project for Yale, but also construction-related money that would flow into city coffers in the way of permit fees, and into the pockets of New Haveners in the form of jobs.
“It’s disappointing,” she said.
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posted by: Noteworthy on August 8, 2017 4:43am
Once again, Ald. Greenberg confuses what he does for a job and his position as a public official. Or, worse, rather he uses his official public position to advance his personal agenda and enhancement. It prostitutes public service and is a real disgrace. Yale should start paying its PILOT later in the year and refuse to prepay for any of its permit fees. Perhaps when millions of dollars are missing from the city budget, Greenberg will get a better vision of what his job actually is as a representative of all of us.
A better idea would be for Greenberg to recuse himself from any decision in which he or his organization benefits. It’s called conflict of interest and any nitwit would recognize it in this situation.
posted by: robn on August 8, 2017 5:42am
So Alder Greenberg holds a fake hunger strike last spring and poses as a wheelchair bound person to try to extort control and money from Yale, but since he can’t get his way, he and the suburban union backed alders are using out BOA to do the extortion instead. pretty lame. Wooster Square residents who vote for him are a bunch of suckers.
posted by: Booksmarts on August 8, 2017 6:09am
This story is a PERFECT illustration of the conflict of interest involved in having the Yale unions controlling the board of alders and using it for their purposes. The idea that building additional classrooms would have any “impact on traffic, transit, and parking” is laughable, and Greenberg knows it better than anyone. This is purely the unions flexing their muscle by holding up another Yale project.
In this case the direct negative impact on the city of New Haven will be minor. But the major question is whether we, the citizens of New Haven, want our representatives to be primarily concerned with advancing their own goals as a union, or the goals of the city as a whole?
posted by: wendy1 on August 8, 2017 6:53am
I cant wait to see what Local 33 does this fall and I hope to be there cheering them on.
posted by: 1644 on August 8, 2017 7:05am
Again, UNITE-HERE undermines New Haven, and those of graduate students. The Frontier conversion takes a commercial building off the tax-rolls by converting it into academic space. The HGS conversion changes untaxed dorms into untaxed academic space. Like lecture halls all over Yale, the new lecture halls will be used by the same students who are already living and working on campus, with a few de minimum exceptions for events which will bring in suburbanites like Festival of Arts and Ideas events.
posted by: LookOut on August 8, 2017 7:05am
why does a Wooster Square alder get to hold up a project on York St thus costing the city permit fee revenue and costing construction workers jobs? .....oh wait, he’s head of a union….I suppose the proper palms were not greased.
posted by: Dwightstreeter on August 8, 2017 7:30am
The City government is rife with conflicts of interest but until there is a well crafted Ethics Ordinance and a Commission for enforcement, you an re-write this headline forever. My guess is no candidate for Mayor will even mention this perpetual deficit.
posted by: THREEFIFTHS on August 8, 2017 8:04am
To the union Haters.These politricks was going on before the unions came in.Just look at when the city was control by king John.The question is why do you all keep voting them in if they are so Bad?
My bad.If you had Proportional representation along with Term Limits you would not have this problem.
posted by: AverageTaxpayer on August 8, 2017 8:34am
This is horrible on the part of Greenberg, and he is acting on behalf of his Union cronies and not his constituents.
Of course the problem is that if anyone wants to run against one of the Union stooges, they’ll face the full resources, (manpower, money, etc.), of the 35/34/33 organization. (They spent $200,000 on their initial power grab.)
New Haven needs an organized political movement to be a check and balance against these political abuses.
posted by: budgeteer on August 8, 2017 8:49am
These unanimous-consent items were not expected to be controversial, but something else was. What happened with the proposed zoning review for university uses?
posted by: Polaris on August 8, 2017 9:03am
So an alder who is also a graduate student at loggerheads with the university has the power to veto a project designed to improve graduate students’ experience? And yet it is considered acceptable that he is permitted to wield this power. Astonishing.
posted by: wendy1 on August 8, 2017 9:14am
Yale deserves this and much more—-a hard time for their dubious projects and policies. I support Greenberg and will vote for him again.
posted by: AverageTaxpayer on August 8, 2017 9:30am
This article omits the conversation of the “Swing Space” from undergraduate housing to grad student apartments.
When the renovations are completed to the now re-named Baker Hall, the building will have 70-100 two bedroom apartments.
Is the city going to tax these graduate student apartments? Are they going to tax the new apartments being built on Broadway?
These new uses aren’t “dorms”. They are not essential to a graduate student’s education. In fact, hey are as much income property for the University as anything else! Yale as a landlord should pay the same taxes that everyone else has to.
posted by: Realmom21 on August 8, 2017 9:38am
wow another 16 plus million dollar property off the property tax rolls because Yale child study is both educational and medical. No wonder the conversation about taxes has been hush hush because inevitably we will have to eat those losses as tax payers.. lets see a few less teachers, officers, fire personnel, fewer streets cleaned, snow plowed even slower, more parking tickets etc.
posted by: LoveNH on August 8, 2017 11:14am
Very few individuals can afford to work as an alder unless they are paid by someone else. So as long as alders make less than a living wage, we will get what we pay for - hired guns. What gets me is the ridiculous notion that 34/35 define themselves in opposition to Yale. That betrays a deep lack of wisdom that hurts their own membership and the city as a whole. Shame on Greenberg and his gang of fools.
posted by: brownetowne on August 8, 2017 11:49am
@LoveNH You are right that these union alders seem to hate Yale but what strikes me as odd is that they all work for Yale and are the recipients of great educational or employment benefits. You have to wonder why these folks can be so awful.
posted by: brownetowne on August 8, 2017 11:55am
@Realmom21: It would be nice for a vibrant commercial enterprise to open or expand into the former Frontier space, but where are they? Do they want to come to New Haven? This building was vacant for at least a year or so, so the acquisition by Yale is preferable to the alternative of nothing being there.
posted by: Noteworthy on August 8, 2017 8:21pm
Ald Greenberg - you have nothing to say? Amazing. Unaccountable and arrogant.
posted by: Esbey on August 8, 2017 9:22pm
Alder Greenberg’s union job is to fight Yale, and he happily exploits his alder position to advance that fight at the (literal) expense of city residents. Would he like to explain which city programs he is going to cut to make up for the lost building fee revenue? Which taxes he will raise? Will he feed the families of the jobless?
I do not for a minute believe that he has “concerns about parking.”
posted by: wendy1 on August 8, 2017 9:25pm
Brownetowne, you sound clueless about NH. Yale Corp. is and has been a predator for centuries. The “great educational and employment opportunities” don’t exist. Their PR is BS. Yale workers keep their mouths shut or get axed. Their “job pipeline” is an outright lie and they hoard big bucks while the town fails politically, economically, and socially.
To call us brownetowne is politically incorrect but statistically correct and Yale takes full advantage of that fact. Years ago Paul B called it plantation politics (Advocate muckraker) .
posted by: Inside 165 on August 9, 2017 9:13am
The City has an ethics commission established by the charter and if you read the language it’s pretty substantial, especially by New Haven standards. It is very clear on issues that create even an appearance of impropriety and conflicts of interest. One of the biggest problems is Harps continued failure to appoint people to the Ethics board.
I wonder what PACAs position on having a working ethics. Oats would be. Love to here from him in this and if he would fill the vacant seats, unlike Harp.
Read the ethics rules here.
posted by: 1644 on August 9, 2017 9:13am
Wendy, I believe Browne was referring to benefits for those employed by Yale U. See,
These include great health benefits, educational benefits like $8K/year for tuition if your kid goes to college, the homebuyer program, etc. These benefits surpass any others, even those of state employees, and certainly those of other private employers.
As far as the “dorm” issue, as I have stated before, I personally believe more communal living enhances a school’s educational programs. Nonetheless, the modern trend, embraced by UConn and SCSU, is for apartment style dorms even for undergraduates. Ironically, Local 33’s projection of graduate student status not as a short term educational program but an indefinite employment program argues for more atomized living for grad students. The change in housing styles is itself a university response to graduate student requests for housing where they could both be together and apart.
Lastly, I agree with 3/5’s: if people object to UNITE-HERE’s capture of the BoA, run against them. Yes, given that they are essentially paid by the union to subvert the broad interest of the city to the narrower interests of UNITE, it will be hard, bit one could at least try.
posted by: Dwightstreeter on August 9, 2017 9:24am
There are currently vacancies on the Board of Ethics. You can download an application to serve on a board or commission from the City’s website.
I am not impressed with the Ethic’s Code as written, but even more important is the lack of enforcement.
The goal should not to have a “gotcha” moment, but to advise people before a conflict arises.
As many commentators on the NHI have noted, issues of conflict of interest appear frequently but no mechanism exists to deal with them.
When something important is neglected, like a Civilian Review Board, ask yourself who benefits?
The last Charter Revision Commission heard testimony re: the need for many things in New Haven and did very little.
posted by: robn on August 9, 2017 9:35am
The problem is not just UNITE. Its also AFSCME which dropped a money bomb on NHV during the Harp election at the last minute to help her defeat Elicker by a whisker and also solidify 34-35-UNITE control of the BOA. You can’t fight the dues power of a 1.3M member organization when they put a target on your hometown’s back. Not to mention your home state. Their control of our legislature is why CT is one of only 4 states that allow pensions to be part of collective bargaining instead of legislated…. and that’s why CT is broke!
posted by: TheMadcap on August 9, 2017 10:45am
All the people who usually cry bloody murder about street parking seem to suddenly not care if the issue is raised by Greenberg. Hmmmmm
“Elicker by a whisker”
11,362 to 9,417 isn’t exactly a whisker. It was in fact a surprisngly strong showing by Justin but at the end of the day that is still near 55-45
posted by: robn on August 9, 2017 11:56am
Its a whisker when you accept only small donations against an opponent who get $100,000 union checks and an equal amount of suburban footsoldier labor knocking on doors.
posted by: Esbey on August 9, 2017 3:35pm
From the behavior of Alder Greenberg, I assumed that there were no ethics rules governing the New Haven board of Alders.
But, from the text linked by Inside165, there are ethics requirements including:
“No Public Official, whether elected or appointed, paid or unpaid, or employee of the City shall engage in any activities which result in a conflict of interest between the duties and responsibilities of public office and one’s private affairs or which are incompatible with the proper discharge of official duties.”
How is Alder Greenberg not in violation of the law?
posted by: robn on August 9, 2017 4:00pm
This has been going on for five years now. From the day the union coalition entered office they were acting illegally because not one of them identified their union affiliation as a conflict of interest (which it most certainly is). I would not be surprised if this issue became the crux of a lawsuit against the city.
posted by: 1644 on August 9, 2017 6:26pm
Rob: I suspect Greenberg, Harp, and Wendy would argue that there is not conflict: helping the union and obstructing Yale is good for New Haven because Yale is bad and unions are good.
posted by: wendy1 on August 9, 2017 8:46pm
@ 1644—-Unions can be good and workers do need protection from greedy managers. Yale could be good for a change if they actually cared about and did something for the community. With 25 billion, they refuse to rescue the local women’s shelter (New Reach story). I personally left info for Rick Levin, Pete Salovey, and David Swensen about this problem over a week ago not to mention Rosa DeLauro who is worth 24 million (NYTIMES last year). But the city has many expensive problems that aren’t going away
@ Esbey—-since the BOA was first formed, alders have always been out for themselves and their businesses. I heard this from Rick Wolf 20 years ago. He was in the BOA ! Yes, being an alder is a volunteer job ($2000 for 2 years of endless meetings). Unfortunately cityhall cant afford to pay more and I’m not sure that would work either. Young, clever, idealistic people rarely run for office
posted by: 1644 on August 9, 2017 10:50pm
Wendy, not everyone shares your generosity or trust that tomorrow will take care of itself. I admire you for walking the walk, while Bloomie and DeLauro do so little with heir own money to help those in need. As far as Yale, well, the money doesn’t belong to Rick or Pete. They and the corporation members hold it in trust for the University’s worldwide mission of education and research. If Yale’s donors wanted to help a homeless shelter in New haven, they could give directly to that shelter. However, they didn’t. They gave to Yale, so that Yale could sustain the extremely generous scholarships, maintain its collections, perform research and support humanities, for th increase of knowledge through the world. As Dave Sewnsen says. his client’s investment horizon is forever. What you call “hoarding” I call honor the pact between past, present and future generations, so that the gifts of the past and present will support future generations as generously as they have past and present generations. If you want moneys re-directed, you should talk to donors like Schwartzman rather than PS. Five hundred million to rename the bicentennial complex after himself strikes me as absurd, but its not my money.
posted by: wendy1 on August 10, 2017 7:14am
Dear 1644——Tomorrow wont take care of itself and you dont understand the rich. All of the Yale folks I contacted are multimillionaires and could bail out New Reach themselves. David Swensen, Hedge Fund King, is the worst of the bunch explaining how his job is to rescue Yale at all costs and spread Yale all over the globe, etc. Right now, they are only in Singapore, a dictatorship that executes opposition like in China, and is home to Crazy Rich People (I read the novel.) Take a good look at the kids and parents touring Yale campus and town.
Their US campus may be under water soon and the city is dirtier and more dangerous than ever. BTW they never caught the Wooster Sq. home invader who attacked a newly hired female MD. I ask the cops every day. She is now half blind. Ignore the PR and listen to your conscience.