Mall overhaul sparks competition

With the Chapel Square Mall slated for a major overhaul, nearby landlords may try to upgrade their properties to avoid being left behind.

The New Haven Register reported on April 3 that University Properties was negotiating with furnishings retailers Crate & Barrel and Pottery Barn to fill two vacant storefronts on Chapel Street. But representatives from University Properties denied that any negotiations had taken place so far.

“I don’t know where that report came from,” said Bruce Alexander, the director of Yale’s Office of New Haven and State Affairs. “We have had no significant conversations at this point with anyone.”

One of the parcels that Yale hopes to fill with a retailer is 984 Chapel St., which was occupied by Kaye’s Art Supply for the past four years. The store relocated to 27 Church St. last month after its owner, Roy Muraskiewicz, reached an agreement with University Properties to negotiate a lease at the new location.

In addition, University Properties acquired the adjacent New Haven Restaurant site at 986 Chapel St. in 1998. The building has been vacant for the past four years.

With the Broadway redevelopment project nearing completion, University Properties has turned its efforts toward other retail parcels. High-end retailers could fit well along the block that faces the New Haven Green and links the future redeveloped mall and the home-grown shops of upper Chapel Street.

“Those are the types of stores we’re looking at,” Alexander said. “We’re always trying to find good tenants to come downtown.”

Andrea Pizziconi, a financial analyst for University Properties, said any lease agreements for the two properties are at least six months away, but University Properties has been planning the project since August.

“We’re going to wait until we have the two best tenants in hand,” Pizziconi said.

A redevelopment deal for the Chapel Square Mall between the city of New Haven and a Baltimore-based developing team is expected to be finalized this week. Officials said new retailers could begin operating at the mall as early as December.

The developers, Baltimore’s Williams Jackson Ewing Inc. and Philadelphia’s Lubert-Adler Associates, hope to add street-level access to all stores, mix local and national retailers, and renovate the office tower above the mall with a combination of residential and office units. The project could take as long as four years to complete, with work beginning this spring.

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