SCSU Takes Over Gateway’s Long Wharf Campus

Thomas MacMillan File PhotoSouthern Connecticut State University has taken possession of Gateway Community College’s abandoned Long Wharf property—without a clear plan of what to do with it.

Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU) took custody of the campus at 60 Sargent Dr. in April, according to Robert Sheeley, associate vice president for capital budgeting and facilities operations.

SCSU is providing security for the 150,000 square-foot building, and maintaining the grounds there, while it figures out what to do with the space, Sheeley said.

Gateway abandoned the space when it moved downtown in 2012.

Hyde Leadership Academy, a nomadic city high school, moved into the second floor of the building in 2012. The city’s vo-tech program set up there, too, with dreams of running a “food incubator,” a vo-tech high school and a middle-college program run jointly with Gateway.

A year later, a leaky roof rendered the building uninhabitable. Hyde fled to North Haven. The principal of the fledgling vo-tech program, which never really got off the ground, relocated to Hillhouse High.

The 1971 concrete structure on Long Wharf has been vacant since last spring.

The building caught SCSU’s attention this year as the university underwent a review of its facilities and possible spots for future expansion, according to Sheeley.

Because the building was already owned by the state, and fell under the umbrella of the state’s network of public colleges and universities, SCSU acquired the property for free, Sheeley said.

SCSU hired a consultant to check out the building. The consultant, who started work in May, will determine whether the building is salvageable or whether it’s “so far beyond that it needs to be demolished,” Sheeley said. The consultant will also look at potential contamination in the land.

A cursory review has revealed some obvious problems: the roof is “leaking like crazy,” and the fire alarm needs to be fixed, Sheeley said.

Sheeley said he doesn’t know what Southern would use the campus for.

“We’re wide open. We’re going to be doing a new master facilities study. We’re going to be looking at all our operation,” he said. “The Long Wharf property might play a large role in that.”

Sheeley said the consultant plans to finish its feasibility study by July.

Moving some services to Long Wharf “would give us a presence in the main corridor of New Haven,” Sheeley said. “We just saw it as an opportunity.” If Southern doesn’t end up wanting the property, it can turn it back to the state for surplus property, he said.

In other Southern expansion news, the university just opened an office at 900 Chapel St. on the New Haven Green to create more of a downtown presence.

The university also has a long-term plan to work with New Haven public schools to create a new K-4 school on SCSU’s campus. Sheeley said that project is “in the city of New Haven’s hands.” There are “no definite plans for that” at the moment, but “we stand as a ready partner.”

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posted by: Gretchen Pritchard on June 14, 2014  9:46am

Another hideous building from the 1960-1980 rock-bottom nadir of American civic architecture.  Ugly, badly designed, and badly built.  Has it occurred to anybody that enormous, sprawling flat roofs are a bad idea in a climate that has rain and snow?

And the icing on the cake of the awful design is that these buildings are incapable of aging gracefully:  they don’t get weathered or softened or acquire a patina, they just look derelict.

posted by: cttaxpayer on June 16, 2014  8:51am

As a taxpayer I would rather see the state even give the building to a developer that will pay taxes than see the university use it so they have more room. Any new programs will harm Gateway’s attendance and the net will be more lost opportunity for real jobs coming to CT.

There are already two new buildings going up on the current campus and they are also renting space in downtown New Haven. Enough! We are in a recession!