Long Wharf looks at move to Chapel

Yale students may not be the only college students shopping at the redeveloped Chapel Square Mall.

Both Gateway Community College and Long Wharf Theatre are considering relocating to downtown New Haven to the site of the mall’s original anchor stores, the former Malley’s and Macy’s department stores. But no deal has been arranged to date.

“Nothing has been resolved yet. Nothing has been approved yet,” New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. said.

On Monday, New Haven sold the Chapel Square Mall to a developing team consisting of Baltimore’s Williams Jackson Ewing Inc. and Philadelphia’s Lubert-Adler Partners in a deal worth about $6 million. The city still owns the former Macy’s building and the vacant lot that was formerly Malley’s.

Currently, both the college and theater are located on Sargent Drive in Long Wharf. Both hope to expand in the near future.

The Long Wharf Theatre has been located at the New Haven food terminal since its 1965 founding by several Yale graduate students.

“Not a lot of people know where we are,” said Jennifer Manzo, a Long Wharf Theatre spokeswoman. “To have a different home that’s more in the heart of New Haven would be a benefit to both us and the city.”

Moving the Long Wharf Theatre downtown would lengthen the Elm City’s theater district that now runs along Chapel Street from the Shubert Theater on College Street to the Yale Repertory Theatre several blocks west.

“Downtown will be good for Long Wharf and Long Wharf will be good for downtown,” DeStefano said.

The theater’s management has decided to work with the city to find a new home for the theater, Manzo said.

“It will probably be a property that the city owns,” she said.

Manzo added that although the theater has no specific time frame for relocating, it would like to move as soon as possible.

Gateway Community College, a two-year school, is also eyeing the downtown area as a possible site for a renovated campus. The college is considering three expansion possibilities: upgrading the current site, acquiring the Pirelli Building at 500 Sargent Drive, or moving downtown to the former Macy’s or Malley’s site. The architecturally unique Pirelli Building belongs to Westfield America, a retail developer.

Allan Dehar Associates, an architectural firm, is currently preparing a new campus design.

“Until the architectural work is done, we have no decision on where we will be,” said Dorsey Kendrick, the college’s president.

But space constraints could force the college to move its campus.

“The problem with the current location is whether we can get additional land nearby for expansion,” Kendrick said.

The project is budgeted at $52 million, according to Kendrick. The college must select a site by the end of 2002 in order to receive a state aid package before it expires at the end of the 2003 fiscal year.

Relocating community colleges to downtown districts is not a new trend in Connecticut. Capital Community College in Hartford is completing a move to the former G. Fox site this summer and will share the building with a new retail mall. Housatonic Community College relocated to downtown Bridgeport in 1997.

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