Continuum plan for New Haven development gets first approval [New Haven Register (CT)]
New Haven Register (CT), 2014-02-20
new haven >> Continuum of Care, which already employs 650 people and plans to hire 300 more, pitched its plan Wednesday for an administrative headquarters that will be part of a mixed retail development on what is now just a parking lot in the middle of the Route 34 corridor.
The nonprofit, which provides services to some 1,500 persons with mental illness and development disabilities annually, is partnering with Centerplan Development Company on a $50 million, two-phase project, $40 million of which represents private investment.Erik Johnson, who heads up the Livable City Initiative in New Haven, said Continuum needed someplace to consolidate multiple offices into a 30,000-square-foot administrative headquarters, while Centerplan was looking to put up a 50,000-square-foot development.Johnson told the City Plan Commission that each project was too small for the 5.5- acre block in the Route 34 corridor, but together it was a plan that could work for both groups and the city, which owns the land.
This is the beginning of a long approval process in which the Board of Alders and eventually Mayor Toni Harp will have to sign off on the development and land use agreement with the parties for use of this parcel, which is bound by Dwight and Orchard streets, Martin Luther King Boulevard and Legion Avenue.
Attorney Anthony Avalone said Centerplan will be responsible for all environmental cleanup on the site, which the city will sell for $2.65 million based on an independent appraisal.
Currently it is a parking lot used mainly by personnel from Y-NH Hospital and the Yale Medical School, where three shifts of workers use the 850 parking spaces.The commission Wednesday agreed that the proposed use of the site was appropriate, while it also addresses the retail and employment goals for the neighborhood. The specifics of a site plan will come back at a later time if the land agreement is approved by the alders and Harp. Patti Walker, president and CEO of Continuum, told the City Plan Commission that it needs to consolidate four administrative offices in order to stay in New Haven. The 55 nurses and support staff will work out of the new headquarters, but no services will be offered at that site.
Continuum already has been approved for $7.5 million in state funds to put toward the headquarters.
Continuum's three-story headquarters will take up about 10 percent of the site, with the rest of the area taxable property. Currently it doesn't generate any taxes.The rest of the site in phase one will include a pharmacy, possibly a bank, a restaurant and an office building with surface parking. Walker said there will be a deli open to the public in its headquarters. In neighbohood meetings, the developer said residents wanted retail that would serve their needs.Phase two will include more office space, likely marketed to medical uses, and a parking garage, which is the most controversial aspect of the development in an area that is concerned with pollution adding to the problem of asthma. By the end of phase two, there will be some 120,000 square feet of development.
Ohan Karagozian, a neighbor and member of the Hill North Management Team, said the only part of the development that makes him uncomfortable is the parking garage. "I feel that the amount of pollution that all those vehicles will generate is going to be detrimental to the health and welfare of the surrounding neighborhood," Karagozian said.
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