Munson Street Plan Nears Goal Line

HUMPHREYS & PARTNERS LPMarkeshia Ricks PhotoThe quest to transform 13 acres in Newhallville from vacant industrial land into 385 new apartments won a crucial vote Thursday night despite last-minute efforts to delay the decision.

The vote came at the end of a public hearing of the Board of Alders Legislation Committee at City Hall about whether to approve a zone change for the land at Munson Street—from industrial to dense residential — sought by a California builder.

The alders voted to approve the change and send it along the full board for a final approval.

But first alders listened to two and a half hours of testimony from people who could agree on one point for sure — that it’s the Newhallville section of the city’s turn for a major development that will provide housing and jobs to a community that feels left out of the city’s recent boom.

But whether that development should come in the form of 385 mostly market-rate apartments and the 598 parking spaces that a developer wants to put on the former Winchester Repeating Arms site—and needs the zoning map amendment to make it possible— remained up for debate Thursday.

Nearly 30 people testified at the hearing. Some raised concerns about the density of the proposed development, the possible increase in traffic, and whether the developer would make a firmer commitment to hire local workers and increase the number of affordable apartments beyond 10 percent.

Ultimately, committee alders sided with the site’s new owners, Double A Development Partners LLC, and the alders and neighbors who have been meeting with them since they bought the property.

Double A Development requested the zoning change from the city to allow the parcel at 201 Munson St. to be rezoned from its existing Heavy Industry, or IH, designation to a General High-Density Residence District, or RH-2. The City Plan Commission recommended approval of the request in November, though city staff indicated in its report that the zone change should be done within the context of the surrounding neighborhood, which is mostly single-family homes. The full Board of Alders is scheduled to vote in early January on whether to make the amendment a reality.

Brett Anderson, a partner with Double A, told alders Thursday night that the RH-2 zone would enable his firm to secure the required financing and start buildling while the economic cycle is in its favor. The project, which includes the cleanup of hazardous material on an old munitions site, is estimated to cost more than $75 million.

“We want to catch this one and start moving dirt,” Anderson said. “To start construction next year, we need to make this thing happen.”

East Rock Alder Jessica Holmes pressed the developers on why they are pursuing an RH-2 zone change, rather than creation of a Planned Development District. A PDD would have allowed the city to create unique zoning requirements tailored to the Munson Street project. Many who raised concerns about the level of density the RH-2 zone would allow and its impact on the community suggested that a PDD would be a better fit for the project.

Leslie Radcliffe, who serves on the City Plan Commission and voted in favor of the zone change last month, raised concerns about spot zoning Thursday. She argued a PDD would be a more suitable way to handle the zoning relief that the developer needs. She said alternative zoning options were not presented to commissioners before they made their decision and they weren’t allowed to actually consider the change in the context of the proposed development.

Anderson indicated that the choice to pursue an RH-2 zone change was a matter of timing. Pursuing a PDD could delay approval of the project well into 2018.

Prior to the vote, Dixwell Alder Jeanette Morrison, noted that much of the opposition to the project Thursday was coming from people who don’t live in the area. She also noted that the developers spent months in discussions with alders and neighborhood groups leading to commitments to local hiring.

“They are constantly in the community,” she said. “Constantly having these conversations almost every two weeks, having different meetings. These developers are willing to work with the alders, the residents and anyone else who wants to sit down with them.

“It’s time for the Newhallville area to get some love in regards to development,” she said.

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posted by: anonymous on December 15, 2017  10:06am

Is this real, or is it another “Live Work Learn Play” situation? 

Newhallville is a great neighborhood, but it is interesting that a developer proposes to put $75 million into housing there instead of spending it on downtown where they can likely get higher rents.

$75m / 285 units = $263,000 per unit

compared to Spinnaker’s Audubon Phase 1 as reported
$80m / 269 units = $297,000 per unit in phase 1 (phase 2 reported to cost another $80m to build another 230 units)

Not a huge difference and the Spinnaker also might be getting revenue from its large parking garage.

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on December 15, 2017  12:47pm

Anonymous, I have no idea whether this project will be built, but it is fundamentally different from Live Work Learn Play. The latter is a mixed use project, with a lot more moving pieces than this one. And the future of LWLP depends a lot on what happens to Church Street South. Finally, the rents being charged at Winchester Lofts, a couple of blocks away from this project, are not that much lower than those being charged for new developments downtown.

posted by: Ryn111 on December 15, 2017  12:55pm

@anonymous you’re onto it!

The developer likely wont spent 75MM here because the rents woundlt justify that type of investment. Hence surface parking and garden style layout.

This neighborhood is nice but it wont command rents of a great neighborhood. (transit / retail / etc )

posted by: 1644 on December 15, 2017  1:14pm

Keven;  Didn’t LWP also rely on government subsidy?  My understanding is that this project is entirely privately financed, to be an as of right development after down-zoning to residential.

posted by: Hill Resident on December 15, 2017  3:48pm

@ anonymous - the developer advised they plan to build 385 units (not 285) at $75M (which includes the cost to remediate a 13 acre brownfield) = $194K per unit (not $263K) ... substantially less.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 15, 2017  4:23pm

Mark 8:36 KJV: For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? No shame hast the Judas Goat!!

Dixwell Newhallville Community you have been sold out By Black Judas Goat Leaders.This is nothing more than modern-day colonization.Do you all think these apartments will be for you.You will get the jobs.But what happens after these jobs finish.Then what.

Prior to the vote, Dixwell Alder Jeanette Morrison, noted that much of the opposition to the project Thursday was coming from people who don’t live in the area.They are constantly in the community,” she said. “Constantly having these conversations almost every two weeks, having different meetings. These Prior to the vote, Dixwell Alder Jeanette Morrison, noted that much of the opposition to the project Thursday was coming from people who don’t live in the area.These are willing to work with the alders, the residents and anyone else who wants to sit down with them.

These developers do not live in the area.As far as people who don’t live in the area.you need there help to expose these developers and the councillors for who they are.

Like I keep saying New Haven is in the second stage of gentrification.A lot of you will be push out of Dixwell Newhallville Community.

Gentrification animated

https://youtu.be/WavTSjJkL0U

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 15, 2017  9:16pm

Mark 8:36 KJV: For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? No shame hast the Judas Goat!!

Goal Line?Did you all not see the flags on the ground.This is nothing more then Colonization of the hood.To the people of Dixwell/Newhallville.You have been sold out by Judas Goat Councillors.If you all think these apartments are for you.You better look again.Yes if this gets build there will be jobs.But that is all there will be.How many of you will be able to afford the rent?

Prior to the vote, Dixwell Alder Jeanette Morrison, noted that much of the opposition to the project Thursday was coming from people who don’t live in the area. She also noted that the developers spent months in discussions with alders and neighborhood groups leading to commitments to local hiring.

Yes if this gets build there will be jobs.But that is all there will be.Again. How many of you will be able to afford the rent? How many of you will get apartments?In fact some time you need outsides to come in and wake the people up.That is what Dr.King did.

Now this is affordable Housing..It is done by Lottery?Also look at the area AMI Notice at 30%  you get. A one bed room for 396.00 a month if you make $ 15,532 to $ 20,040 if you are one person.look at the Amenities:Laundry*
and fitness rooms, landscaped seating area, resident gardening program, half time concierge, parking spaces and on site resident manager.Check out the rest..
https://a806-housingconnect.nyc.gov/nyclottery/AdvertisementPdf/407.pdf

Just remember. In the earliest days of the New World settlement, relations between the natives and the newcomers were friendly.. As more and more English colonists flooded into the new world, Native peoples lost more of their lands.Then they put them on Reservations.If you do not wake up.This is where you all will be.

https://youtu.be/-ILbUduwBkg

posted by: robn on December 16, 2017  9:29am

It’s very interesting that Alder Holmes was trying to pressure the Developer into a PDD; no doubt to extract politically favorable concessions. Serious city planning frowns upon PDDs except under the most unusual circumstances; which this is not…it’s just the extension of a residential neighborhood zone into an abandoned industrial zone.

posted by: Steve Harris on December 16, 2017  11:50am

Yes. Let’s clean up a brownfield and bring it back to productive use. Once a residential tipping point is reached retail and other neighborhood business will follow.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on December 17, 2017  2:48pm

It’s great that an abandoned and contaminated industrial parcel is being remediated and developed. However, I can’t help but think that it’s in the city’s long term interest to foster a robust locally-financed real estate investment and development apparatus with owner-occupant rental properties as the foundation. Traditionally, immigrant groups and other working class populations have made their way up the social pyramid through real estate. In the absence of this, we have become susceptible to national investors and developers delivering boiler plate projects. While larger scale developers may be the only ones capable of delivering complex commercial and residential blocks Downtown, I wonder if that’s still the case in lower value areas with plentiful underused parcels. For decades, vacancy and abandonment due to low demand have plagued lower Newhallville and Dixwell, but as soon as there is an opportunity for new housing here, it’s being supplied by a suburban California developer and Texas architect. Perhaps there’s no other option.

robn,
I attended the meeting and didn’t get the impression that Alder Holmes was pressing for a PDD, just merely inquiring about it.

While this proposal could have extended the residential neighborhood into an abandoned industrial zone by reconnecting severed streets and responding to the nearby bike bath, parks, and existing neighborhood fabric, the project instead creates a gated community surrounded by a moat of perimeter parking and building designs imported from 1980s exurban Texas.
http://www.resight-ai.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/MunsonStPDF1000.jpg
A PDD may have been able to require things like sidewalks, streets, and some semblance of a coherent urban site plan.

Steve,
Check out the site plan linked above. The proposal is completely insular. It’s likely to stimulate local retail in the area about as much as the Wintergreen of Westville Apartments on Blake Street has rejuvenated the Beaver Hi

posted by: Hill Resident on December 18, 2017  6:51pm

Thanks Jonathan Hopkins for your observation and posting the current rendition of the proposed build. As stated, this is not a site plan. And now that the BOA Legislative Committee has approved the RH2 rezoning, expect the full board to also approve it - the deal is already done ... just as it was with the Legislative Committee. Holding these public hearings apprears to be more and more perfunctory. The developer presents renditions that have changed from meeting to meeting, makes promises about jobs and affordable housing in exchange for Alder and community support, but is under no obligation to keep. The developer said CP staff told them to propose an RH2 zone which they did not, and continues to say the CP recommended the RH2 - which would leave the CP no opportunity to have design review and input???  But then the developer admits that requesting a PDD would have made the process take longer than THEY wanted. They brought the proposal for Zoning change from IH to RH2 to CPC in November 2017, brought artist rendition to Dixwell Mgt team in July 2017 after CPC recommened they go to the Newhallville & Dixwell mgt team for community discussion. 6 months is too long??? If they had made their original request to rezone as PDD they would be almost thru the process - but In an RH2 they are under no obligation to do all they ‘promised’ to do. In an RH2 the opportunity for further community and municipal input in the plan and design is gone. Now the developer can build 7 story buildings in a gated community for 900 tenants with no affordable housing and only the minimally required minority hiring - if they want to and there is nothing anyone can now do about it. Yes ... I think the community got ‘sold out’ on this one. Alders would not allow this in East Rock, in Beaver Hills, in Westville, in Dwight. One alder said ‘more people is a good thing!!!’ - really? The BOA should be more transparent and think of ALL their wards as equally deserving of their diligence.

posted by: Steve Harris on December 19, 2017  7:04am

People in New Haven have fundamental misunderstanding of the zone change process. It’s not about securing local construction jobs, or building affordable housing, as good as that might be.  Nor does it require deal making or approval from local neighborhood groups.

Rather it’s all about rezoning land to reflect today’s reality. Heavy industry is not a good use for that tract of land and will never come back anyway. RH-2 makes sense. Cleaning up a brownfield makes sense. And if it takes someone from out of state to do that, fine. As to the aesthetics, if we had form based regulations the aesthetics would take care of itself.

We should welcome development, not try to kill it.