Chapel Square Mall to open doors Jan. 1



The intersection of Church and Chapel streets should feature two new combined retail-and-residential developments by this time next year, city officials said Monday.

Chapel Square Mall, which developers had planned to open at the end of August, should welcome its first shoppers by Jan. 1, 2004, said Tony Bialecki, deputy director of New Haven’s Office of Economic Development.

Anthony Schaffer, the chief financial officer of real estate developer C. A. White Inc., said the mall will be joined next September by a combined retail-and-residential space at 868 Chapel St., developed by his firm.

“Both proposals represent what every city would hope for, sort of a rediscovery of one’s dormant spaces,” said Scott Healy ’96, executive director of the Town Green Special Services District.

Bialecki said developers “got a late start” in the Chapel Square Mall project because the previous tenants of the building stayed longer than expected. Now, he said, the apartments upstairs in the building are completed and final demolition is underway in the retail space.

Healy said the developers had landed four tenants for the mall, but he would not disclose who they are. He said they comprise a mix of national and local retailers. Representatives of Williams Jackson Ewing, the firm developing the mall, did not return calls Monday.

Bialecki said filling the entire mall would be a gradual process and could take six to 18 months, due to the poor national retail climate. Tony Rescigno, the president of the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce, agreed that the economic environment is causing difficulties in finding tenants but praised local developers for not rushing to fill their spaces with subpar retailers.

“These various developers aren’t panicking,” Rescigno said. “I’d rather there’s a delay and we get some great tenants.”

Block 235 Development Associates, a division of C. A. White Inc., is preparing a new retail/residential complex across the street from the Chapel Square Mall. Schaffer said the redevelopment of the old Cutler’s and Woolworth’s buildings will feature 83 apartments and 17,000 square feet of retail space divided into two parcels. Schaffer said the firm plans a complete renovation of the existing structures and will have the residential and retail spaces up and running by Sept. 1, 2004.

Schaffer said the firm does not have a retail tenant yet for either space but is seeking a nationally recognized chain store. He said the apartments will be designed for graduate students and professionals.

Healy said the two new developments will join a retail area that is already strong. He said a new Foot Locker store recently opened on lower Chapel Street — the first national tenant to make that move — and said all of the stores in that area “do very brisk business.”

The development in the area does not just involve profit-making ventures. In what he termed “a major move,” Bialecki said Casey Family Services, a child welfare agency, will be relocating its headquarters and 60 employees from Shelton to the city. According to a release on the nonprofit group’s Web site, the group’s new home at 127 Church St. will house the agency’s executive offices, multiple departments, and the new Casey Center for Effective Child Welfare Practice.

Rescigno said all three new projects should benefit the Town Green area and the city as a whole by bringing more people to the area to live, work and shop.

“These are people that are out in the city and they’re vibrant,” Rescigno said.

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