A poorly-maintained, boarded-up house on 65 Bristol St. will no longer be an eyesore to Dixwell neighborhood residents, due to the joint efforts of Yale University and the Beulah Land Development Corporation, a New Haven-based company that focuses on affordable housing.
The property — located on the corner of Bristol and Ashmun streets next door to the future University police station and Dixwell-Yale University Community Center — was purchased last year by Yale after complaints from neighbors, said Reginald Solomon, project director for the Office of New Haven and State Affairs. It was then donated to the Beulah Land Development Corporation, which renovated the two-family unit house with new interior, siding and roofing, in addition to cleaning up a cluttered building on the premises.
“It’s a beautiful entrance to that neighborhood,” Solomon said. “Corners in an area foretell all the good things that are happening in a neighborhood.”
Darrell Brooks, executive director of the Beulah Land Development Corporation, said his company believes in empowering neighborhoods through affordable housing, job opportunities and economic development. Beulah has worked with Yale in the past on other Dixwell projects, and Brooks said he looks forward to continuing that partnership in the future.
“This was an opportunity for us to get together and make homeownership a reality for folks who have been disenfranchised,” he said.
Brooks said homeownership rates in Dixwell have been low and that they plan on building a convenience store or gas station at the entrance of the neighborhood in order to stimulate economic development.
“This is an opportunity to really revitalize,” Brooks said. “Redressing that corridor is really a beginning step to make that happen.”
Solomon said now that the renovations to 65 Bristol have been completed, Yale is preparing to market the house to employees through the Homebuyer Program within the next couple of weeks. The cost of the home will be $175,000, but grants through the Homebuyer Program, Empower New Haven and Beulah may reduce that amount by as much as $80,000, depending on the buyer’s income. The Homebuyer Program gives an additional incentive to employees seeking housing in Dixwell.
“Every time a Yale homebuyer buys a home on that street, they tend to improve their property. It helps encourage renovation and homes being modernized,” Solomon said.
Dixwell resident Helen C. Powell, who lives across from 65 Bristol, said the renovation has allowed for a dramatic improvement in her corner’s appearance.
“I’m glad, because it was messing up my street — all boarded up with a raggedy fence,” she said.
Powell said she is also looking forward to the addition of the new police station and community center. She said although the Dixwell neighborhood was “a little gloomy” several years ago, the community has become much safer and more residents are taking better care of their homes.
In addition to the renovation at 65 Bristol, several other major projects have added to the improvement of Dixwell over the past several years, including Yale’s extensive investment in renovations along Mansfield Street, town homes developed by Beulah, and the Monterey Homes, which replaced housing projects in the late 1990s as part of a Housing and Urban Development initiative.
“Little bits of this neighborhood are being strengthened one block at a time,” Solomon said. “We’re really excited about it.”
Solomon said Yale will continue to support its surrounding neighborhoods, but does not plan on purchasing and renovating more houses like the one at 65 Bristol.