Long Wharf 2.0 Dream Gets A Team

Markeshia Ricks PhotoThe team that designed and planned a $2 billion transformation of a mile and a half stretch of Washington D.C.‘s Southwest waterfront has been tapped to create a strategic development and economic plan for the city’s Long Wharf District.

Global architecture firm Perkins Eastman will take on the task of reimagining the 352 acres east of the train tracks to the harbor, bounded by Water Street, New Haven Harbor, and Union Avenue that make up the Long Wharf District. The district also includes Sargent Drive, the Long Wharf Nature Preserve, and the land around Hamilton and Water Streets east of Wooster Square.

City officials announced the choice of Perkins Eastman during a press event Tuesday held at the renovated New Haven Village Suites in the Long Wharf District.

They and principals from Perkins Eastman refrained from giving details about any preliminary ideas for a district that simultaneously boasts too much traffic congestion and extensive underutilized space.

“We have no plans,” said Stan Eckstut, senior principal for EE&K, which is a Perkins Eastman company. “We have lots of experience and what we’ve learned is” no formulas, no prototypes.”

When pressed about whether residential development might be in the vision for Long Wharf, Eckstut demurred.

“We don’t really know what the answer is today because we’re just beginning,” he said. “That’s what we’ve learned from our experience. This is unique and one of a kind and we’re going to all figure it out together.”

Eric Fang, an associate principal with EE&K, said that whatever plan comes forth in about nine months, it will be both sustainable and pragmatic. The plan also will include community input, which planners have started gathering. Over two days, Fang and Eckstut have met with members of the Hill South Community Management team as well as property and business owners in the district.

Eckstut said the plan will be built around two big ideas: that the harbor is one of the greatest anywhere but has not fully realized its potential; and that the unique mix of what is in the district—corporations, emerging tech businesses, a theatre—all make it a destination worth enhancing.

“We’re looking to add more use, more activities to this place that is so unique,” he said. “We want to build upon the opening of the new maritime center and start to make it even more of a harbor destination. The goal would be to try to marry land use development and water planning together with all public infrastructure with an emphasis on the public realm because that’s what creates the value.”

New Haven applied for and received a $950,000 state grant last year, half of which has been used to put in curbing, sidewalks, and the state’s first protected, two-way cycle track. . The other half of the grant will be used to cover the cost of developing the strategic development and economic plan for the district.

Mayor Toni Harp, who floated the idea of securing state funds to write a new vision for Long Wharf when she first ran in 2013, said that going forward she hoped the plan would include “repurposed buildings and a comprehensive economic plan, improved streetscapes and landscaping, new transportation features and a beautiful Long Wharf Park.”

Michael Piscitelli, a city deputy economic development administrator, said Perkins Eastman will be responsible for figuring out a plan that works for the existing businesses, works with the existing public infrastructure such as the cycle track and the boathouse which will be finished by next fall, and the adjacent neighborhoods like the Hill and Wooster Square. He said there would be a number of community meetings before a plan is finalized but expected that recommendations could be forthcoming as early as June 2018.

“The bones of the district are very important,” Piscitelli said. “The businesses that are here today are very important. This early work is about complimentary activities. What will support [existing businesses] and help them to grow because there is space to infill and it has to work together.”

Jonathan Wharton, a City Plan Commission alternate member who lives in the City Point section of the HIll, said that Perkins Eastman’s work in other places like New York City and Washington, D.C., and the principals’ willingness to listen to ideas from residents, impressed him and other neighbors. He said he looks forward to seeing how the plan will not just better integrate the abutting neighborhoods but connect with Union Station and the exits at I-95.

“This is long overdue,” he said of the plans to study Long Wharf. “The potential here is tremendous.”

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posted by: BetweenTwoRocks on December 5, 2017  4:39pm

Awesome. New Haven has really wasted so much of its waterfront property, and unfortunately, quite a bit of it is wasted with I-95, which isn’t going anywhere (though I enjoyed the idea of a beltway which goes through the harbor and leaves the water itself available for development).

Nonetheless, so much of our waterfront territory is inaccessible and wasted and I’m glad to see the city finally utilizing it. Even Lenny and Joe’s, the new waterfront activity center, and the snack shack, are all welcome additions.

How about we build that pedestrian bridge I so lovingly designed? https://betweentworocks.com/lets-build-pedestrian-bridge-long-wharf/

posted by: JCFremont on December 5, 2017  6:11pm

Like the Union Station area, Long Wharf is seperated by The Great Wall of Rt. 34. So much of the area are parking lots. I have a question. What part of the origional boathouse is part of the new boathouse?

posted by: __quinnchionn__ on December 5, 2017  7:59pm

When I see Long Wharf from I-95 and Rte 34 I can definitely imagine it as being an area in the city where there’s restaurants, hotels, office spaces, storefronts, luxury apartments and maybe even some condos. In my opinion Long Wharf should be what welcomes people into New Haven before they get into Downtown. The same thing should pertain to the Church Street South area near Union Station. Long Wharf is just as important as the redevelopment for the Hill-to-Downtown project. In this case Sargent Drive should be main corridor that gets revitalized to strengthen the harbor and the waterfront.

posted by: Esbey on December 5, 2017  10:21pm

I used to think the harbor by I-95 was hopeless, permanently wrecked by the awful highway and unclaimable.  But when I go to the Long Wharf food trucks and see the families settling under the few trees by the water to eat lunch, I gain some hope.  A lot (I mean *a lot*) more trees would start to soften the area and dull the roar of the cars.  The new boathouse, a few more amenities, who knows.

JCF, the new (& a bit of old) boathouse is described here:


posted by: new haven ideas on December 6, 2017  7:51am

every time i drive 95 or visit the food trucks, or eat at lenny and joes, i envision a significantly wider park between the water and 95 - a much wider waterfront park.  in my vision, the existing waterfront is filled in approximately out the distance of the existing pier where the amistad boat is/was.  it would extend roughly from said pier all the way down to roughly the Vietnam War Memorial, possibly farther.  the result would be, rather than the narrow strip of “nature” currently abutted by roads, parking lots, mega-highways, and more roads (which as a result doesn’t really feel or sound at all like experiencing a waterfront or nature), the city and its citizens would actually have waterfront park with more nature (less concrete) and more space/buffering between the waterfront experience and the mega-highway.  i realize our city already has a nice waterfront park on the east side, but surely with so much focus on revitalizing downtown, a long wharf waterfront park can co-exist with a sister park across the harbor.

in this fantasy, our reps or senators in DC help us to obtain some of the (relative) piles of federal money available for transportation, or environmental protection, or rising sea levels, or you-name-it federal program and budget - whatever creative method is needed to get this paid for.  even if said federal program is not really about building waterfront parks, so be it, so long as it gets NH citizens a big beautiful waterfront park.

NH is not alone in having post-WWII interstate highways through the city - and frequently right next to a major body of water or river.  many cities have redeveloped waterfronts adjacent to interstate highways with highly successful waterfront parks and natural spaces to reconnect the citizens to the waterfront.

(i’m fully aware that this may be one of those silly amateur development ideas that is completely unrealistic because of local zoning ordinances, state laws, federal laws, environmental infeasibility, etc.)

posted by: wendy1 on December 6, 2017  10:47am

A big pipedream———I hope those two didn’t get paid to come down here and yak.
The boathouse project that is blocking the new biketrail is well over a year late in coming and the biketrail that was supposed to make it to Olive St. from Yale campus is also tres late.

Frankly what we have now was used and enjoyed by travelers and some of our latino neighbors.  I know because I spent many evenings on the grass myself taking in the view of the power plant and sewage treatment company not to mention the tank farm under the Q bridge.  Even then many families chose to picnic there and watch the sun set or birdwatch as I did.

We are not Hartford or Providence.  The city says we are poor, too poor evidently to do anything about affordable housing or homeless housing.  Everyone knows the mayor’s son is a slumlord along with others here.  The city is full of homeless and panhandlers.  Yet the city was able to pull out 10 million in reparations to a wrongly convicted man recently—-so how poor are they????

posted by: JCFremont on December 6, 2017  11:36am

@Esby, Thank you for the link. I suppose it is similar to what The New York Yankees did when they moved the monuments across to the “new” Yankee Stadium, attached a faux façade to the roof and told us this was the same “hallowed” field of Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio and Mantle. Funny thing I found about the Adee Memorial Boathouse was that the Yale Crew Teams only used the house for five years, do to expanding commercial harbor traffic. The university used it minimally until the late 1940’s. Apparently too late and too big has been just a recent phenomena. Hey if they dismantle the Pirelli Building piece by piece and use a few window panes, could they replace it with something useful?

posted by: RobotShlomo on December 6, 2017  12:06pm

This is the Vision Project 2.0. Anyone remember the “Vision Project”? Sinking I-95? The proposed marina?
The Long Wharf Mall? The long held dream of making Long Wharf like the waterfront in Baltimore, sans Camden Yards? Nope? Not surprised.

“We don’t really know what the answer is today because we’re just beginning,” he said. “That’s what we’ve learned from our experience. This is unique and one of a kind and we’re going to all figure it out together.”

Translation; We get paid either way. So keep your expectations low, that way you won’t be disappointed.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 6, 2017  12:33pm

Take Bets.The Gentrification Vampires will try to do this on Long Wharf District..

Chelsea Piers i


Kep you bags pack. A lot of you will be priced out.

posted by: NewHavenTransplant on December 6, 2017  3:14pm

The planners don’t know what to do with a waterfront? This borders on pathetic—open it up to the public in a way that is welcoming and accommodating! Currently the lack of infrastructure for the food trucks—too few waste/recycling bins and insufficient tables/chairs for the crowds—hardly makes it a paradise. Some simple ideas: turn Long Wharf Drive into a pedestrian/bicycling zone, and park the cars on either end. Link the bike lane and side walks safely to Olive Street and downtown, which would also increase access to the boat house. As for Sports Haven—it would make a great Costco.

posted by: __quinnchionn__ on December 6, 2017  5:18pm

A Beltway built around New Haven probably would’ve been a great idea if the city/state would’ve had enough funding to do it. I can imagine that the proposed expressway would’ve better served people who were coming from the suburbs into town by car. (East Haven, North Branford, North Haven, Wallingford, Hamden, Woodbridge, Orange, West Haven and Milford)... But instead I-95 and I-91 continues to be disconnected from Route 15 in the New Haven area. That was a golden opportunity that would’ve benefited the city in the future. It would’ve been a lot easier to get around if the Beltway was completed.

posted by: __quinnchionn__ on December 6, 2017  5:41pm


Costco? I don’t think so…

In my opinion Sports Haven would be better off as being an outlet mall with a public plaza and some luxury mid-rise condos included.

posted by: theNEWnewhaven on December 6, 2017  6:03pm

Is there an update on the other waterfront project that we had talked about - Fair Haven’s Velodrome?

I would LOVE to know what’s going on with that area as I loved that idea!

The idea of building something there would be so exciting, especially connected to the updating and revamping of that park.

Either way, I am happy with the amount of energy that New Haven is putting into making this location a destination BEYOND Yale.

I love this city and see that others are trying to improve our less than desirable spaces. That being said, I would hope we don’t get another bastardize rendition of construction like we have on College and Crown. Woof. That construction looks like Styrofoam.

Looking at the D.C. construction article listed and then the actual development website, these guys look like they know what they are doing.

I only hope our budget will allow for more than quick STICK BUILD // Faux Brix construction - ESPECIALLY considering how much could be lost with a waterfront community on land reclamation as global warming strengthens our annual hurricanes.

posted by: Shari Hoffman on December 8, 2017  11:11pm

This is very exciting however I would like to know more about what the mayor meant by “new transportation features” when in the article Mayor Toni Harp said “that going forward she hoped the plan would include “repurposed buildings and a comprehensive economic plan, improved streetscapes and landscaping, new transportation features and a beautiful Long Wharf Park.”

I don’t know if she is thinking about public transportation features. I bring this up because I rely on public transportation as do many residents of New Haven. Back during the summer I wanted to spend an afternoon shopping with a friend at IKEA at Long Wharf but I learned I couldn’t go because CT Transit doesn’t go to Long Wharf on a Sunday.

Recently I was offered tickets to see the show “The Chosen” at LWT for a Sunday early evening but couldn’t accept them because once again CT Transit doesn’t go to Long Wharf on a Sunday. I asked a bus driver why the buses don’t go there. He said there aren’t enough riders who go that way. This is sad. If that is true then I hope the city builds something really spectacular that people would want to go. It’s a rather difficult scenario living in a city that you can’t get around in and it makes a person feel unwelcome. This needs to change. I hope that eventually the culture at Long Wharf changes enough so that more people will want to go and enjoy themselves and that there are city buses who will take them.