City to redevelop Chapel Street plot

New Haven’s skyline may gain an extra tower or two as city officials consider proposals to redevelop a 1.5 acre site near the intersection of Chapel and Orange streets.

A committee comprised of city officials and community leaders is currently sifting through eight proposals to redevelop the site, located at 745 Chapel St. All eight combine mixed-income condominiums and apartments with ground floor retail, but the proposals — which come from firms based in Connecticut, New York City and Boston — differ in their scale and vision, New Haven Deputy Director of Economic Development Tony Bialecki said. The committee began reviewing proposals two weeks ago and is expected to make recommendations to Mayor John DeStefano Jr. by the end of October after meeting with developers, Bialecki said.

Several of the proposals feature towers that would change the shape of New Haven’s skyline. Fairfield-based Becker and Becker Associates is proposing a 32-story tower with roughly 450,000 square feet of apartments and condominiums, an early childhood education center, and 25,000 square feet of ground floor retail. Local developers Andrea Pizziconi and John Wareck are proposing two towers: one a 19-story residential tower with a 56-room boutique hotel managed by the owners of the Roomba restaurant and the other a smaller mixed-use tower. And New Haven-based Foundation Development Group features an 18-story tower in their bid. Other proposals are smaller in scale, such as New Haven-based C.A. White’s bid to turn the 1.5 acre site into a network of small pedestrian-friendly streets nicknamed “The Paseo” surrounded by small-scale buildings housing retail, office and residential units.

City officials have said redevelopment plans for the Shartenberg site — the former location of the Shartenberg Department Store, which was razed during New Haven’s tumultuous urban renewal period in the late 1960s and converted into a surface parking lot — is progressing on a scale that has not been seen since the 1980s.

Yale Associate Vice President for New Haven and State Affairs Michael Morand said interest in the Shartenberg site reflects an upswing in the local economy over the past few years.

“The vibrancy of the New Haven market is evident in the fact that so many quality in-state and out-of-state developers have submitted bids,” Morand said.

Downtown New Haven is seeing a surge in city-directed redevelopment, most dramatically in a $230 million project to revitalize downtown by bring Gateway Community College to a new campus one block south of the New Haven Green, along with retail and residential units.

Some community leaders have criticized city officials for not seeking enough public input in redevelopment plans such as the Gateway Project, but Executive Director of Town Green Special Services District Scott Healy ’91 said the redevelopment of the Shartenberg site reflects officials’ increasing emphasis on soliciting public input for major projects.

“Anybody can walk into City Hall and look at [the proposals],” said Healy, who is a member of the committee reviewing the Shartenberg site proposals. “That’s not the way many cities work. The city is taking a very creative approach to developing this site. The city was proactive and … specified very clear goals in developing the site, using some of the best urban principals to guide the process.”

The committee includes representatives from the Town Green Special Services District, Empower New Haven, the New Haven Chamber of Commerce, a new nonprofit community bank starting up downtown, as well as city officials from the Board of Aldermen, the City Plan Department and the Office of Economic Development.

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