Papa’s Comes Down; What Next?

David Sepulveda PhotoA crew bulldozed a condemned former longtime produce market and adjoining apartment house Monday, as the owner and the city debated what should take its place.

The demolition occurred at 1385 Chapel St. at the corner of Orchard, catty corner from Yale-New Haven Hospital’s St. Raphael campus.

The family of Stephen J. Papa (a white-bearded neighborhood fixture known for serving on local civic boards and playing St. Claus on the Green for 49 years) ran an eponymous fruit and vegetable market in a one-story structure there for decades next to the multi-family dwelling. Papa died in 2010; the property has run down since then.

The city issued two demolition orders for part of the property. Last week city Building Official Jim Turcio approved a demolition permit for the whole property. Turcio said Monday a partial roof collapse on part of the structure had grown worse, while trespassers continued to find their way inside and the buildings became more dangerous.

A subsidiary of Pike International, one of the city’s biggest landlords, bought the property after it was condemned. It sent the demolition crew in Monday to do the job.

Afterward, Pike President Shmully Hecht said the property will serve as a parking lot for the near future. His company anticipates building housing and maybe retail there in the longer term as part of a broader redevelopment of the block; Pike also owns a nearby apartment building on Chapel as well as the former Ethan Gardens development around the corner on Orchard.

Hecht said the neighborhood is poised to support more housing for “working families” priced out of downtown. He called on Yale to extend its shuttle service to Dwight/Chapel West — which it has been reluctant to do — to help promote more housing development there, which he said that declining crime in the neighborhood has made possible.

“Chapel West is the only affordable area in walking distance to downtown,” Hecht said.

Yale Vice-President Bruce Alexander’s response: “Actually, we are a school rather than a city transit system. Would he like to pay the costs from his profits as a very big New Haven landlord?”

Meanwhile, the city is pursuing a different vision for that corner, involving the return of fruits and veggies.

Serena Neal-Sanjurjo, head of city government’s anti-blight neighborhoods agency, the Livable City Initiative, had hoped to reach a deal to have the city buy the property before the demolition. The idea was develop an open-air produce market that taps into the work of the CitySeed farmers’ market organization.

“You win some; you lose some,” Neal-Sanurjro said Monday. But, she added, “I’m not giving up” on buying the property from Pike. “It’s a fabulous opportunity to do something in that spot.”

“We’d be open to the conversation,” Hecht said.

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posted by: Renewhavener on March 7, 2016  4:20pm

Not going to call this wrecker out by name, but that red truck with the yellow letters sticks them out pretty clearly.  Don’t think this firm should be doing any work in NH period, and think the photos speak for themselves.  No hard hat or high-vis vest for their laborer (pic 1 & 4).  Equipment w/ open doors to mechanical compartments (pic 2).  No perimeter fence (pic 1, 3 & 4).  There are enough willful violations here to generate a fine large enough to double the cost of the work, and think Pike has some obligation to demand better. 

Separately, think Serena Neal-Sanjurjo ought to back off and let the market provide an outcome here.  Cityseed is a great organization.  Why we need public money to outfit them a place to operate seems foolish when there aren’t enough resources to go around.  If the concept is open-air, then go broker a deal with AF to set up in Amistad’s parking lot on non-school days.  Throwing money at every problem that manifests itself seems a quick way to have no money to throw at anything.

posted by: Bill Saunders on March 7, 2016  5:34pm

WAKKA WAKKA WAKKA. 

The game of Urban Pac-Man continues

posted by: HewNaven on March 7, 2016  8:07pm

Hecht said the neighborhood is poised to support more housing for “working families” priced out of downtown

Why not 1br units for “workers”? As it is, we’re forced to share 2-3br units.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on March 9, 2016  3:42pm

1385 Chapel Street was a contributing building to the Dwight Street Historic District. Though its exact date of construction is unknown, the original house with a stone foundation was likely built in the 1860s. Sometime between 1886 and 1901 an addition with a brick foundation was built onto the rear of the original house (see here: http://static.panoramio.com/photos/original/128671421.jpg), and sometime between 1911 and 1934 a one-story commercial addition was built up to the sidewalk next to the original house.

While 1385 Chapel was not an especially significant work of architecture on its own, the building was an important part of the urban fabric of the Dwight neighborhood. The loss of this building is yet another instance on a long list of demolitions in the neighborhood that have eroded its walkable streets, intimate scale, and urban vitality over the last 50 years. While individually the loss is not substantial, when viewed in aggregate with other vacant, underused, and abandoned lots throughout the neighborhood, the effect is to diminish the overall appeal of the neighborhood to passersby as well as residents.

Hopefully the lot remains a parking area only temporarily and is soon replaced by a contextual building that serves a similar urban function as its predecessor - namely that it be mixed-use, multi-story, abut both sidewalks at the corner, and accommodate parking in the rear if at all (as seen here: https://www.google.com/maps/@41.3106648,-72.941487,3a,75y,64.43h,88.85t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sFk7dyeNZSGJScVFRzHuXzQ!2e0!7i13312!8i6656).