Luxury Transformation Of Red Cross HQ Underway

Markeshia Ricks PhotoForty-two luxury apartments are coming to the former Whitney Avenue headquarters of the Red Cross.

Mayor Toni Harp and her economic development staff joined developer Nancy Greenberg Wednesday to break ground on the planned transformation of the 116-year-old mansion at 703 Whitney Ave.

The East Rock single-family home originally belonged to a turn of the century merchant who later sold it to a doctor who in turn sold it to the Red Cross. The site became available a little over two years ago. Greenberg, who lives nearby on Highland Street, was among the developers with an eye on snapping it up.

Courtesy Fernando PastorGreenberg said Tuesday that other developers were interested in maximizing the value of the site by building new. She wanted to preserve the building as well as build new. She ultimately was able to buy it for $1.6 million. On Tuesday she got to show off the progress to city officials.

“It’s hard to believe that this moment has arrived,” she said. “It has been a long time in development.”

Greenberg’s team consists of architect Fernando Pastor, who has designed the transformation of the mansion into seven apartments; and architect Peter Gluck, who is handling the design of a new building that will contain the 35 remaining apartments next door. A carriage house in the back of the property will become an amenity space featuring a fitness center, meeting space, and a library. The apartments will be one and two-bedroom units and rent at market rate. The development is expected to open some time next fall.

“This is going to be a lovely place to live whether you’re coming here to stay for a few years or downsizing from a home and wanting to stay in the same place,” Greenberg said. “I’m excited to be right down the street so I don’t have to commute.

“I’m proud to be part of this thriving place that is going to be New Haven 2.0,” she added.

GLUCK+ ArchitectureMayor Harp arp called the future “Whitney Modern,” as the development is being called, is a metaphor for what’s happening all over the city as older properties are made new through redevelopment.

“Cities have always been the center of commerce and now ... thousands of people are looking to move here to be close to that center,” Harp said.

Click the Facebook Live video below to see the press conference.

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posted by: LookOut on November 1, 2018  8:06am

Always great to see development in New Haven but this is better than some of the recent news for two reasons;

1) The developer does not appear to be asking the city (taxpayers) to fund a long term tax break in order to get this done.

2) All apartments will be market rate.  Again - not asking tax payers to fund holding units at un-natural levels (and guess who pays for that) - is a huge step in the right direction.

posted by: WakeUPNewHayHay on November 1, 2018  8:38am

Looks Yummy.

I hope they take advantage of that view from a community roof deck!

East Rock at Sunset is a SIGHT. Take advantage of that with those flat roofs!

As for the Market Rate, makes sense.

Let’s not have a whole debate over this, these are NEW units taking over a space that most recently only housed cars.

posted by: RobotShlomo on November 1, 2018  10:29am

Apart from the gentrification and income disparity issues that luxury apartments and gentrification ultimately bring, are they really saying that “nondescript Lego” was the best design choice they could with? Seriously? What did the architects say when they pitched this? “I’m picturing something that has no discernable feature. Something that says to me ‘I want something that’s completely neutral, and so absurdly devoid of any welcoming aesthetic details that it looks like it’s straight out of the Woody Allen movie Sleeper”, and the developer said “I love it, go with it!!”????

posted by: LookOut on November 1, 2018  10:54am

@Robot:  Interesting take on the design but I am baffled by your opening phrase…..Gentrification causes gentrification?  Luxury apartments cause income disparity?  Who would benefit if this property continued to be an abandoned building and a parking lot?

posted by: __quinnchionn__ on November 1, 2018  11:06am

The buildings should be 6 to 8 stories tall if residents and visitors want to get a good overview of the entire East Rock area from the rooftop. They may even get a good look at Downtown too.

I also agree with @WAKEUPNewHayHay about the rooftop idea.

posted by: AverageTaxpayer on November 1, 2018  11:10am

@ RS — yes and no. To the developer’s credit they did keep the historic Red Cross building intact.

Anyway, I’m excited to see a property back on the tax rolls, as we need the $150-$200,000 in revenues “Whitney Modern” will generate.

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on November 1, 2018  11:15am

RobotShlomo, you may be old enough to remember the song by Sly and the Family Stone that included the line “different strokes for different folks”. Developments with similar designs, such as The Novello and Corsair have attracted hundreds of tenants.

posted by: RobotShlomo on November 1, 2018  12:29pm

@Lookout.


That was poor proofreading on my part. Or maybe I’m channeling Tony Two-Times? “Gonna go get the papers, get the papers”.

posted by: RobotShlomo on November 1, 2018  12:42pm

@KevinMcCarthy.

I’m also old enough to remember when Andy Rooney said referring to art that “it should look like something”. And those buildings like the Novella I’ve been calling “The Kiev” because they look like Soviet era Khruschkyovkas, which the Party loved because they were cheap to build, could be built quickly and house a lot of people in them.

What a minute, New Haven only has one “party”. Coincidence????

@Lookout
And I hit reply before I could continue, isn’t the high rents just another version of “redlining”? And this whole idea that New Haven has that it will lift itself out of the economic doldrums of being a post industrial city is similar to what China has been doing. The Chinese believe their GDP goes up as long as they keep building, so they just keep building, and now you literally have empty cities because they’ve over built. It will never get to the point where you have a million empty apartments in this area, however you will eventually run into the same issues. At some point the market will be saturated and supply will exceed demand. Furthermore, with the cheaper rents in Hamden and Branford, one less reason to stay in the city because you have “so many restaurants”. I already have friends who’ve fled for Branford, Hamden and Derby with zero regrets.

posted by: challenge on November 1, 2018  1:26pm

Will more luxury apartments make up for all the thievery that has been going on in city hall? Also maybe someone needs to recognize you don’t have to go from vacant lots to luxury apartments. You can also go from vacant lots to low income housing to accommodate the low income residents struggling to remain living in the city. Oh that’s right they are not part of the long range planning for the city. It appears the plan is to push them out with housing they can’t afford.

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on November 1, 2018  2:13pm

RS, I’m not keen on this style myself, but there are clearly lots of people who are comfortable with it. BTW, if you go back to the original 1937 Home Owners’ Loan Corporation maps, which created redlining, Whitney Avenue was in the top housing quality category.

posted by: LookOut on November 1, 2018  4:08pm

@RS

I agree with you that it feels like New Haven is getting overbuilt.  But that is the beauty of the free market…..people risk their capital to build and some will do well, make money, spend money and all will be fine.  If others follow and overbuild, they may find that there is not demand for expensive apartments and they will be forced to drop their rates to fill the units.  (or if the people hate the look, they may not move in)  Unlike China, when we get overbuilt, the free market system will force a change in pricing (unless the government is involved with price controlling).  Keep building - it will be better for everyone in the end. 

And I do agree with your parallels between the USSR and New Haven.  When was the last election where we had a choice for a non-Democrat for mayor?  How many times has Roland Lemar run uncontested?  How about a serious challenger for Rosa?  It’s sad…..Khruchshev would be proud.

posted by: wendy1 on November 2, 2018  8:10am

Ugly brown box with windows.  I wont let my husband wear that color.  Market rate is a euphemism for unaffordable rent.