Old plant to see new life for mixed use

The site of the former Winchester Factory, birthplace of the “gun that won the West,” may get a new lease on life as a mixed-use complex, the owner announced this week.

The Science Park Development Corp., which owns the land and the buildings left behind by the once-powerful gun manufacturer, began accepting bids from developers Tuesday. Their task: to refurbish a seven-acre complex of historic buildings and turn what was formerly industrial space into a combination of residential and commercial property.

Merle Ederhof joined the faculty of the School of Management this semester as an assistant professor of accounting.
Volkan Doda
Merle Ederhof joined the faculty of the School of Management this semester as an assistant professor of accounting.

“People have told us there is a market for housing in this kind of space,” said David Silverstone, the head of Science Park.

The buildings are part of the much larger Science Park complex, an area located between the Newhallville and Dixwell neighborhoods that is currently dominated by biotech firms. Silverstone said he does not know how many of the residential units will be given over to affordable housing and how many to market-rate prices.

“We want to see what the market tells us,” he said. “We think it will be some sort of mixture.”

The Science Park decision is the second major piece of development news this week. On Tuesday, the Board of Aldermen gave a green light to the Shartenberg project, which will plant a high-end luxury apartment complex on the intersection of Chapel and State Streets.

Elisabeth Grossman SOM ’05, CEO of a local economic development firm that is working on both projects, said there are similarities between the Shartenberg and Winchester initiatives.

“The need for mixed-use is strong in both locations,” she said. “There is a good mix of residential units along with amenities for the community [in both].”

At a community meeting held in Newhallville this month regarding the Winchester redevelopment, residents expressed a desire for a post office, a dry cleaner and a grocery store, Silverstone said. He said the site would be big enough to accommodate all of those needs.

But some people also told Silverstone that his group has not been doing enough to help Newhallville and Dixwell fight the troubles that have plagued them, such as crime and economic issues. One woman said that Science Park had done nothing to help the community.

Silverstone said he disagrees, but he acknowledged that the corporation could have had a larger presence in the neighborhood. The company has provided jobs and a home for the Amistad High School, but it has not previously attempted to serve the community on the proposed scale.

“It’s true that we have not been as visible as we ought to be,” Silverstone said. “But this project will change that.”

If the bid for developers is successful, the project will have the support of the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce, whose chairman, Michael Morand, expressed his approval.

“Enlivening that space would be great for everyone,” said Morand, who is also Yale’s associate vice president for New Haven and state affairs. “Having a greater density there would support more service and retail in the area. As a location it makes a lot of sense.”

Any potential developers have until Oct. 17 to submit bids.

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