Hotel Eyed For Pirelli Building

The iconic Pirelli Building on Long Wharf, beloved by preservationists who feared it would be destroyed, is slated for new life as a hotel.

IKEA, the furniture giant that owns a store on the same Sargent Drive property, is in discussions with a New England hotel developer to turn the empty building into a new hotel, according to city Economic Development Administrator Matthew Nemerson.

Nemerson said Thursday that the city had been urging IKEA to find a new use for the building rather than tear it down. He said the company “interviewed many people” about possible uses — housing, an office building a conference center — before settling on the idea of a hotel and launching negotiations with the developer. Those negotiations are ongong and have not yet produced a memorandum of understanding, Nemerson reported.

The news was revealed at the most recent meeting of the Development Commission, according to the body’s president, Pedro Soto.

“IKEA has not announced any new plans for the New Haven Pirelli building. We do not have any additional updates at this time,” IKEA corporate spokeswoman Lethisa Bracy emailed the Independent in response to a request for comment.

“This is good news. It is going to be preserved,” Nemerson said. And “we clearly need more hotels.” The city is in the midst of a hotel boomlet, with projects under construction or planned at High and George Streets, 80 Elm St., the Union apartment complex, and the Hotel Duncan.

Allan Appel PhotoThe old Armstrong Rubber company built the unusual concrete-cube edifice — suspended from a base in full view of I-95 — in 1969 for use as a research and administrative headquarters. Then, like other manufacturers, the company left town, in the 1990s. The building has been vacant ever since.

Preservationists, fearing loss of a piece of New Haven’s allegedly meaningful modernist architectural history, have sought to prevent the building’s demolition. They succeeded in getting the building listed on the State Register of Historic Places in 2000. That doesn’t legally prevent it from being destroyed, but adds an arrow to the preservationist quiver. The building was truncated in 2003 but otherwise left standing.

The late architect Marcel Breuer designed the building in the Brutalist tradition. Nemerson noted that architect’s reputation has enjoyed a national revival of late.

Last year the Pirelli Building tempoorarily opened its doors again, for an art exhibit. Read about that here.

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posted by: jim1 on April 20, 2018  1:11pm

That is good news.  But each room has 32 cardboard boxes and you have to assemble all the furniture.
With no tools.  You can get the tools on the 3rd floor of there store. If you need help don’t call me.

posted by: Ben Howell on April 20, 2018  1:56pm

There is a better way to write this sentence - “Preservationists, fearing loss of a piece of New Haven’s allegedly meaningful modernist architectural history” - that doesn’t create such a heavy slant. Come on, a qualifier like “allegedly meaningful” only belongs on an editorial page.

posted by: ebw1957 on April 20, 2018  2:51pm

If that doesn’t work out how about a vertical farm?

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on April 20, 2018  3:16pm

jim1, you may know that IKEA is collaborating with Taskrabbit on assembling their products. Perhaps the Taskrabbit folks can help out the guests :-).

posted by: Wyvernish on April 20, 2018  4:48pm

Irrespective of one’s opinion of modernist architecture, the phrase “allegedly meaningful” showed a lapse in journalistic standards.

posted by: 1644 on April 20, 2018  5:43pm

Breuer is a famous, if not infamous,  architect.  One may or may not like his work, just as one may or may not like Picasso’s work, but to dismiss his work as “allegedly meaningful” is incredibly ignorant.  I do miss the tower’s counter-weight, which, hopefully, can be restored before it falls forward.

posted by: new havener on April 20, 2018  10:06pm

big whup…it was destined to be a hotel since the day it closed up.

posted by: wendy1 on April 22, 2018  11:23am

Bring it on.  It will pull people off the highway and into our cash starved town and perhaps also drive IKEA into hiring more help.  Like why are there only 2 or 3 cashiers even on a Saturday when there are 40 cash registers.  I applied for a job there online and was told I could work at an IKEA 50 miles away.

posted by: LorcaNotOrca on April 23, 2018  10:04am

“Allegedly meaningful,” really!? What an insulting thing to say in a non-opinion piece. You’re also talking about a world-famous architect who is well-known exactly for the “allegedly meaningful” work you dismiss. Come on.

posted by: SLP on April 23, 2018  12:38pm

Whether you like the rather odd and snarky term “allegedly meaningful” or not, it does not modify Marcel Breuer; it modifies the much broader idea of “New Haven’s ... modernist architectural history.”

“Preservationists, fearing loss of a piece of New Haven’s allegedly meaningful modernist architectural history, have sought to prevent the building’s demolition.”

posted by: JCFremont on April 24, 2018  7:13am

How about A Hotel/Casino?