Advice To Developers: Make Nice To Neighbors

Paul Bass PhotosNeighbors forced Randy Salvatore to change the six-story building he’s putting up at Chapel and Howe Street—making the project better, in his view.

At least that’s what Salvatore (pictured at right) told a room full of lawyers and activists assembled to figure out how developers can work with, rather than against, neighborhoods in New Haven.

The lunch gathering took place Tuesday at the Graduate Club. Sponsored by the New Haven County Bar Association, it featured a top elected official, a top preservationist, a neighborhood-management team leader ... and Salvatore, a Stamford builder in the process of transforming a one-time red-light district, the corner of Chapel and Howe.

Salvatore’s 53,000-square-foot project (pictured at the top of the story)—called the Novella—consists of apartments atop storefronts. The building’s going up fast; he said he expects it to open in June.

The road was bumpier at first, when he sought public approvals. Neighbors organized against it. Months of negotiation followed. In the end Salvatore agreed to move a century-old home 20 feet down the block rather than demolish it. He changed the facade of his plan to include more glass and emphasize retail. He added a storefront at the corner.

“It’s a lot better of a project” now, he said. The changes increased his costs, but it was worth it, he said.

That was one of several success stories cited by name at the panel. Board of Alders President Jorge Perez repeatedly spoke of the success of “Max”—developer Max Riem, who’s building a $500 million new urbanist mini-city atop the grave of the old Coliseum. Reim met for more than a year with alders and neighborhood management teams. He incorporated their wishes into his final design. The project sailed to approval, with an unusual lack of community dissent.

Therein lies a lesson for developers, Perez said: “You should not decide who the neighborhood’s leaders are. The neighborhood decides who the neighborhood’s leaders are. You’ve got to win them over.”

Anstress Farwell of the Urban Design League (pictured with Salvatore), a prominent voice at development hearings, cited another success story: The expansion of a power plant on the East Shore. She spoke of how, armed with a state law requiring community input, environmental-justice advocates negotiated concessions—like the retrofitting of diesel trucks—that enabled the plant to avoid increasing pollution in the area.

Of course, not all is always sweet and light between developers and neighbors, especially in New Haven. Farwell brought up the Continuum of Care/Route 34 West project, which some neighbors criticized as too car-centric and for allegedly ignoring certain groups in the planning process.

That prompted other speakers to ask how a builder can decide who is the true representative of a neighborhood, or how to react when, in the middle of a process, new voices demand changes.

“This is all touch-feely about cooperation,” remarked attorney James Segaloff, who represents developers before city agencies. “I agree with it. But neighborhoods should understand developers. Developers are putting their money into this community.

“I have a problem with some people who aren’t even from the neighborhood and show up at every meeting and have a problem with every project. You know who you are.”

Segaloff (pictured at left) advised the unnamed alleged naysayers (whose identities were clear to at least some in the room) to “just lighten up a bit rather than immediately going after ‘parking in my back yard.’”

Moderator William Logue, an attorney who specializes in mediation in development cases, disagreed with the “touch-feely” characterization of meeting early and often with neighbors. “Breaking bread” makes it easier to strike a deal, he said. “Respect is like air: When you have plenty of it, you rarely think about.” But if you don’t have it, “That’s all you think about.”

Post a Comment

Commenting has closed for this entry

Comments

posted by: KateW on March 5, 2015  8:37am

I would like to know what is going on with the Courtyard by Marriot plan for a huge expansion and take over of the corner of Howe and Elm.  They failed to get any input from the Dwight Central Management Team when they first went before the Zoning Board.  Then the CEO showed up belatedly to the DCMT meeting in September and announced that their application would be withdrawn for now and that he would be getting in touch with DCMT shortly to get all the input.  No word since. In the meantime they have broken the ten year lease with The Brick Oven Pizza place.  Brick Oven rivals the best of the best in town and neighbors for the most part love the quirky pile of wood that fuels the oven.  Lets make sure that Marriott treats the owner with respect and fair compensation.  He is a very nice man who is raising a great family. We support Brick Oven!

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on March 5, 2015  9:18am

Give me a break. These Vampire Developers are nothing more then the enemy of the grassroots who are the real developers.How come when the Vampire Developers come in, The culture of the original community is destroyed and is later replaced by fancy but expensive apartments and grassroots family being chased out of the neighborhood.


“This is all touch-feely about cooperation,” remarked attorney James Segaloff, who represents developers before city agencies. “I agree with it. But neighborhoods should understand developers. Developers are putting their money into this community.

Who said the community wants your money. Did you meet with them?

I have a problem with some people who aren’t even from the neighborhood and show up at every meeting and have a problem with every project. You know who you are.”

I have a problem with the Vampire Developers who are not even from the neighborhood who cut backroom deals with sell out Judas Goat leaders who sell out the people.How come when the Vampire Developers come in, The culture of the original community is destroyed and is later replaced by fancy but expensive estates?


Like I said.You want to know what is going on in New Haven. Read Jack Newfield and Wayne Barrett book City for Sale: Ed Koch and the Betrayal of New York. You will see the same game plan here in New Haven.

posted by: Esbey on March 5, 2015  10:59am

Meeting with neighbors and working to improve a project is a great idea.  However, insisting, as Perez does that “You’ve got to win [neighborhood leaders] over” is a terrible idea.  This turns our economic future over to unelected and unaccountable groups, who often (quite fiercely) represent special interests that are contrary to the well-being of the city. 

The Marriot expansion is a classic example.  This would greatly aid the city and the opposition is from a self-appointed group that wants to wield its (extra-legal) ability to stop projects to extract various goodies.  One such ‘‘hold up” idea, expressed above, is that a potential developer be forced to compensate a tenant whose lease has expired and was not renewed, as if the tenant somehow gained an ownership right in property that he never paid for; it is an outrageous idea.

In our democracy, the mayor and the alders are the group that should ultimately represent the interests of the city.  They, and all of us, should listen to the neighbors and be responsive to reasonable and legitimate concerns.  So called “neighborhood leaders” should never, ever be granted a veto.

posted by: HewNaven on March 5, 2015  11:54am

Developers are putting their money into this community.

This is bullshit. Developers are not social activists intent on giving their money away. They want profit from any development, that’s the bottom line. If the community gets something out of it that’s nice, but that is not the goal of development. Get real, Segaloff!

posted by: Brian V on March 5, 2015  12:29pm

Thank you Anstress Farwell, for continually showing up to these meetings and advocating for the residents of this city. You are a gem.
Atty. Segaloff why are you complaining about people “who aren’t even from the neighborhood and show up at every meeting and have a problem with every project”?  You sir, can bill your clients, -who aren’t even from the neighborhood, an extra hour for your precious time.
Please remeber, your clients are spending resources(money) to profit themselves, people like Ms. Farwell are spending resources (time) to profit the better good of the city.
Thanks again Ms. Farwell!

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on March 5, 2015  1:00pm

I just got a e-mail from some people,Why do I say Judas Goat Leaders.

A Judas goat is a trained goat used in general animal herding. The Judas goat is trained to associate with sheep or cattle, leading them to a specific destination. In stockyards, a Judas goat will lead sheep to slaughter, while its own life is spared. Judas goats are also used to lead other animals to specific pens and onto trucks. They have fallen out of use in recent times, but can still be found in various smaller slaughterhouses in some parts of the world, as well as conservation projects.

The sell out leaders of the people are the same as Judas Goats. They associate with the people and then sell them out.

posted by: Esteban on March 5, 2015  1:20pm

“Brick Oven rivals the best of the best in town and neighbors for the most part love the quirky pile of wood that fuels the oven.”

No, KateW, speak for yourself.  That the “quirky” pile of wood is not universally loved by the neighbors of Brick Oven Pizza.  Aside from the tobacco road demeanor of this establishment (it has been a neighborhood eyesore for at least a decade), it is also a fire hazard and has been the subject of numerous complaints.

posted by: robn on March 5, 2015  1:22pm

Special congratulations go out to Attorney Segaloff for expressing his opinion without directly commenting about anyone’s mother using the F-word.

posted by: Bradley on March 5, 2015  2:06pm

I have to agree with Esbey about the role of neighborhood groups in the development process. I chaired a management team for over ten years and currently serve as its vice chair. Over the years, we have had a number of productive conversations with developers. Consultation and collaboration are good things. But it is rare that more 20 people show up to our management team meetings, in a neighborhood with 10,000+ residents. Moreover the participants are primarily middle-aged homeowners (as am I) in a neighborhood where two-thirds of the residents are renters. Finally, the neighborhood as whole did not elect me or my successor.

KateW, the NHI did a nice update on the Marriott proposal back in November.

posted by: TheMadcap on March 5, 2015  2:19pm

Actually Brick Oven is factually the best pizza place in town.

posted by: DingDong on March 5, 2015  2:51pm

I think Esbey is right on.

posted by: Bill Saunders on March 5, 2015  3:00pm

Really Madcap,

I just think it qualifies as the best pizza closest to alpha delta…..

posted by: Bill Saunders on March 5, 2015  3:04pm

and not for nothing, but dogs pee on those logs…..  I am not making this up to be obnoxious….where is the health department when you really need it???

posted by: HewNaven on March 5, 2015  3:04pm

Obviously only scientists are suited to handle the debate about who makes the best pizza.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on March 5, 2015  4:36pm

posted by: Esbey on March 5, 2015 10:59am

In our democracy, the mayor and the alders are the group that should ultimately represent the interests of the city.  They, and all of us, should listen to the neighbors and be responsive to reasonable and legitimate concerns.  So called “neighborhood leaders” should never, ever be granted a veto.

The belief that the people of a democracy rule themselves through their elected representatives, though sanctified by tradition and made venerable by multiple repetitions, is actually mystical nonsense. ~ Linda & Morris Tannehill


Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!


BENJAMIN FRANKLIN

posted by: Bill Saunders on March 5, 2015  5:50pm

Hew Naven—We certainly seem to be getting into sketchy territory.

I would rather see my coal-fired New Haven pizza smothered with Hot Opinions. Factuality is not a topping in this age-old debate….

But to obliquely expound upon the answer:

It is less about a definitive ‘where’ and more about an inquisitive ‘what’...

posted by: KateW on March 5, 2015  8:00pm

The corner of Elm and Howe was a toxic abandoned gas station for the first 20 years I lived close by.  Brick Oven then became a bright spot there 15 years ago that has steadily grown a fan base because the food there is delicious and the owner is very dedicated and kind and friendly.  My position is that the owner should be fairly compensated for the unexpected loss of his livelihood in the middle of a long term lease.  I am not against the Marriott expansion, as long as the design is thoroughly vetted as the first plan had major design flaws.

posted by: Esbey on March 5, 2015  8:35pm

3/5’s:

An odd quote to be attributed to Ben Franklin, given that he was a great proponent of democracy, yes?  And indeed we find on Wikiquote.org, referring to this alleged saying:

“Widely attributed to Franklin on the Internet, sometimes without the second sentence. It is not found in any of his known writings, and the word “lunch” is not known to have appeared anywhere in English literature until the 1820s, decades after his death. The phrasing itself has a very modern tone and the second sentence especially might not even be as old as the internet.”

posted by: Nathan on March 5, 2015  9:56pm

“I would like to know what is going on with the Courtyard by Marriot plan for a huge expansion and take over of the corner of Howe and Elm.”

What’s wrong?  A small group of people made trouble and stopped the progress, just as lauded in this article.  Do we think that every developer will come back with the concessions demanded by those few voices?  Let’s hope it is still worth the investment for that building enough to bring them back with another offer, because this city needs to increase the tax base to not only stop increased taxes but to actually lower property taxes for homeowners.

posted by: Bill Saunders on March 6, 2015  1:32am

I guess this is as good a place as any to post this….

In ten years, we are all going to look back at 3/5th’s posts as a revolutionary warning, not a bitter,black urban hypocrisy

Just watch….

Get past the BS Humans….. 3/5th’s he is mostly correct.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on March 6, 2015  8:42am

posted by: Esbey on March 5, 2015 8:35pm

3/5’s:

An odd quote to be attributed to Ben Franklin, given that he was a great proponent of democracy, yes?

Maybe Back then.But I bet once he saw how democracy is run by a Tammany Hall Machine,Back Room Deals and Plutocracy.He would agree with this quote you left out.

The belief that the people of a democracy rule themselves through their elected representatives, though sanctified by tradition and made venerable by multiple repetitions, is actually mystical nonsense. ~ Linda & Morris Tannehill

posted by: robn on March 6, 2015  8:54am

BS

Except when he isn’t…which is now because his quote is false.

posted by: Dwightstreeter on March 6, 2015  9:22am

If the City officials listened to the neighborhood residents, not the Special Service District “leaders” who live off increased tax revenues and want to grow their fiefdoms, or sometimes even the Central Management Teams who fail to publicize their meetings and have members who report to City Hall, - if there were true representation, developers would be more sensitive to community needs.
Salvatore initially came in and thought he could bully his way through on a project whose design did not work on many levels. It was a local group that lobbied to save the green house on Chapel that pushed for balance and sensitivity to the historical surroundings.
Then too Susan Bradford’s law suit produced additional concessions, as did a pay off to an adjacent neighbor.
Sadly, it’s hard to think of one city official or labor leader who supported the reasonable goals of informed and experienced people who actually owned property in the area and have a long term investment there.
Three-fifths is Paul Revere, warning us of outside economic interests that will change our neighborhoods for the worse if we are not on the front lines.

posted by: Susan Bradford on March 6, 2015  9:42am

Development without limits is equal to no zoning code at all.  The city needs to show zoning leadership and stop letting developers just carve up the code and sell off property rights to the highest bidder. 

The city should form and abide by the findings of LEGITIMATE Neighborhood Planning Agencies that can be organized under existing ordinance to make a transparent public process dedicated to a zoning overhaul that writes reliable and predictable code that fairly and evenly considers everyone’s interests; residential, commercial, historical, and institutional.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on March 6, 2015  11:27am

posted by: robn on March 6, 2015 8:54am

BS

Except when he isn’t…which is now because his quote is false.

I got the quote from good read.Are you saying they are False?

http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/683253-democracy-is-two-wolves-and-a-lamb-voting-on-what


My bad.I forgot.Hey Robin and Esbey .Is this a true quote by Ben Franklin. Just after the completion and signing of the Constitution, in reply to a woman’s inquiry as to the type of government the Founders had created, Benjamin Franklin said, “A Republic, if you can keep it.Sorry Ben was for a Republic not a democracy Feel free to read this.

http://whatourforefathersthought.com/DemoRep.html

posted by: robn on March 6, 2015  1:09pm

3/5,

Even if Otis Chandler were still alive I don’t think even a person of his sterling reputation could prevent one or two misattributed quotes from entering the website he created.

ESBEYs research from Wikiquote explains why the quote is wrong. RE: above.

posted by: Bradley on March 6, 2015  1:24pm

Susan, in Connecticut there is no such thing as a neighborhood planning agency and in the 30 years that I was on the staff of the state legislature, no one proposed legislation to enable their creation. (FWIW, I staffed the Planning and Development Committee for much of the time I worked at the legislature.) The management teams play an informal, advisory role in land use decisions. But they are unelected and, in my view, generally unrepresentative of their neighborhoods.

Bill, 3/5ths is correct in noting that gentrification is happening in New Haven, is likely to become more extensive, and harms some people, notably lower income tenants. On the other hand, he fails to note the benefits of gentrification, such as decreased crime rates, or to propose plausible remedies to address its harms.

posted by: Susan Bradford on March 6, 2015  2:02pm

Bradley - See New Haven Zoning Code Ordinance excerpts copied below related to forming and function of Neighborhood Planning Agencies.

Zoning Ordinance; Article I – Definitions; Excerpt

NEIGHBORHOOD PLANNING AGENCY: Any incorporated neighborhood based organization (a) having the staff capability to do comprehensive neighborhood planning and to make reports; and (b) having applied for and received official “neighborhood planning agency” designation from the Board of Aldermen. Such designations shall be granted only to organizations which identify in the application with specificity the geographic area they represent and show they are representative of community residents or have a process for including community participation, and demonstrate objectivity in their approach to neighborhood matters and any other relevant facts. Such designation shall be effective for two-year periods and organizations may apply for re-designation.

Zoning Ordinance, Article VII – Administration; Excerpt
Section 64. City Plan Commission

(d) Amendment of the ordinance.
(1)Petitions for amendment of the text of the zoning ordinance or the zoning map shall be filed with the City Clerk for transmission to the Board of Aldermen, and shall thereafter be referred and acted upon by the City Plan Commission and the Board of Aldermen as provided in sections 183 and 184 of the New Haven Charter. All such petitions may also be referred to any NEIGHBORHOOD PLANNING AGENCY(NPA) of jurisdiction as defined in section 1 of this Ordinance which may issue an advisory report on the proposed zoning amendment to the Board of Aldermen prior to final aldermanic action. Any such petition shall contain sufficient information, including maps where necessary, to indicate the exact change or changes which are sought. The zoning enforcement officer shall be kept informed by the City Clerk of pending petitions.

posted by: HewNaven on March 6, 2015  2:25pm

3/5,

You love comparing the democratic process to relationships amongst animals (e.g. wolves, sheep, “judas” goats, etc.). And, if we were to judge from previous comments, you’re also a proponent of an animal-free diet. I sense a conflict of interest there. You’ll have to pick a different metaphor next time!

posted by: theNEWnewhaven on March 6, 2015  4:20pm

I read independent’s stories daily. I’ve realize that what I take from these carefully written articles is overwhelmingly shadowed by what I gain from the local commentary!

Having worked in the city schools, a city clinic, city restaurants,...I continually meet and connect to the next generation of our Elm City.

I can honestly say that the majority of young adults and almost ALL of my students are happy with the changes happening in this city.

We need to think about what this city WAS and what it will be for the next generation of locals and the consistent wave of newcomers.

Do the residents of the areas in question even care about what is best for their children? Their neighbors? The quality of life for the community as a whole?

It’s best to assume that the low socioeconomic and crime stricken Tre, Jungle, Hill, Fair Haven, and EVEN Dixwell and ‘ville will drastically transition to an almost unrecognizable scene in time.

The only CONSTANT in a city is CHANGE. 

It’s what make living in a city in transition so exciting!


HARSH TRUTH:

It’s ALL about location and convenience for those choosing New Haven. If you feel that young professional “Vampires”  should stick to Wooster Square, Downtown and East Rock…I’m sorry.


If you you are renting in ‘said neighborhoods’  get ready to transition to the less convenient 2-5’s, brooksides, exit eights and Cedar HIll’s. 

Or, (gasps) set sail for places like…the VALLEY! AHHHH!

Why shouldn’t “centrally-located” get a higher price tag? Now add “Quaint historic architecture” and “trendy bars and restaurant” to the mix and we’ve got ourselves a prized neighborhood!

I’m obviously FOR the New-Urbanist expansion of “Chappel West” into Down Bottom and upwards into the Tre. LOWER CRIME and denser housing, please!

posted by: Bradley on March 6, 2015  8:32pm

Susan, thanks for the info, but even if an agency were created, it would be advisory only (section 64). Such agencies have not existed I the 25+ years I’ve lived in town. I doubt they existed for long, if they ever existed, because they would have required funding for staff.

New Haven is one of a few municipalities that zones under special act rather than the statutes, but the special act (which dates back nearly a century) does not allow the Board of Alders and the Plan Commission to delegate their responsibilities/powers regarding amendments of the zoning ordinance or map to neighborhood groups. Moreover, the provisions you cite don’t address variances and special exceptions. Developers routinely use these mechanisms rather than ordinance or map changes because the latter require BOA approval, which can take forever.

City Plan could do a much better job of involving residents in land use decisions. But to give unelected neighborhood groups the authority to make the final decision is an open invitation to NIMBYism.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on March 8, 2015  1:29pm

Take Bets.New Haven will be doing this next just like West Haven to grab land.


West Haven Redevelopment Agency told to use eminent domain for The Haven if necessary.

http://www.nhregister.com/general-news/20150306/west-haven-redevelopment-agency-told-to-use-eminent-domain-for-the-haven-if-necessary#disqus_thread

posted by: Dwightstreeter on March 8, 2015  2:23pm

Three-fifth: you will be proven right in your prediction about the use of eminent domain in New Haven for development.
In the Mayoral debates, not one candidate was willing to say she or he would not use it. The weasel words were “depending on the circumstances”.
Route 34 destroyed a vibrant neighborhood and for what?
New Haven is doomed to repeat the history it fails to understand.