Yale may buy, lease land to close city budget gap

To help close a potential gap in its fiscal year 2010 budget, New Haven may be selling and leasing property to Yale University for up to $3.8 million, City Hall officials announced this week.

The plan is two-fold: City officials hope to sell a 83,635-square-foot parking lot located near the School of Medicine for $3.35 million and lease two 11,430-square-foot traffic medians in the Broadway shopping district for $400,000 the first year and $1 per year for the next 98 years, Deputy Economic Development Administrator Chrissy Bonanno ’01 said. City officials also hope to sell the Dwight School at 150 Edgewood Avenue to Amistad Academy for $4.51 million.

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Because city officials are unsure of how much money they will receive from the state for fiscal year 2010, they are pursuing several avenues to close what could very well be a budget hole. About 47 percent of City Hall’s revenue is provided by the state.

Earlier this year, Bonanno said, University officials “expressed interest” in both the 156 Washington Avenue parking lot and the Broadway district traffic medians, called the Market and Begonia islands. The University has maintained all three plots since the 1990s, she said, shoveling snow during the winter and cleaning the area throughout the year.

According to City Hall records of the aldermanic meeting, the Elm City may also receive $60,000 if the Board of Aldermen gives the University the right to build part of the two new residential colleges over a sliver of the Farmington Canal Greenway, property that is not currently owned by Yale. But city officials may not receive these funds until the next fiscal year, Bonanno explained.

Although the University and many other Connecticut-based nonprofit organizations are not obligated to pay state property taxes for much of their land, Bonanno said that if the sale and leases are approved, city officials would receive taxes on the parking lot, as well as future Payments in Lieu of Taxes for the medians. (State PILOT funds compensate municipalities for most of their losses in revenue from nonprofit-owned property.)

Associate Vice President for New Haven and State Affairs Michael Morand ’87 DIV ’93 said Tuesday that both City Hall and Yale would benefit from these transactions, adding that the transactions can help “the city to realize funds to help meet its budget objectives.”

Still, City Hall spokeswoman Jessica Mayorga said, the transaction must be discussed at a public hearing on the second week of May and then be voted upon by the full aldermanic board one to three weeks later.

To help meet its operating budget, city officials have cut several services, including shutting down three senior centers. The city also laid off 27 municipal employees last month. In an interview with the News last week, Mayor John DeStefano Jr. said the city may cut more services if the state does not allocate enough money for New Haven.

“It is conceivable that additional services may be cut, and we will see as the months go by what we will need to do at this point,” DeStefano said, adding that the possibility of more layoffs is not out of the question.

For fiscal year 2010, DeStefano proposed a $464 million city budget. But between the three budgets proposed by state officials — Republicans, Democrats and Governor M. Jodi Rell — city officials would receive between $3 to 6 million less in state funds than they expect, DeStefano said last week.

Bonanno said city officials are not considering making additional land transactions.

It remains to be seen how the public will react to the possible transactions. Some city activists have complained over the years that the University should pay property taxes. Ward 6 Alderwoman Dolores Colon, whose ward contains the Washington Avenue parking lot, said she wants to ensure community input in the transaction approval process.

“It’s a growth that should be checked or have input from the community,” Colon said.

Colon, who also works at Sterling Memorial Library as a Yale employee, added that she is currently ambivalent about the Washington Avenue parking lot purchase.

Although it does not pay property taxes to New Haven, the University issues a voluntary payment to the city each year. University officials announced in February that starting in fiscal year 2011, University administrators would raise their contribution to $7.5 million from $5.1 million.


  • caution

    New Haven should not be so quick to sell off its property to close the current projected budget deficit. $400,000 now -- then $1 per year for 98 years? $60,000 for "a sliver" of land over the canal? Yale must be licking its chops.

  • Wow

    Maybe New Haven should levy a "bed tax" for each Yale student, similar to taxes for hotels. Hmmm…4 bucks a night per student times ~200 nights per year…that could really add up.

  • Trolley car

    For starters, New Haven could be wiser about their current expenditures. The NH Dept of Transportation is considering spending $30 million over the next 10 years on a Trolley Car system (yes, Trolley car) that would run between downtown, the train station and other areas. To date the NHDT has spent over $180,000 on consultants from URS in San Francisco. Having lived in and around NH for 10 years, I really believe a new wave of leadership is needed, top to bottom.

  • dan

    New Haven should not be so quick to sell off its property for $400,000 now -- then $1 per year ? please!

  • @#2

    I don't believe New Haven is allowed to tax Yale, or any college, in any way.

  • Recent Alum

    Yale needs to buy part of the New Haven Green, not just as an investment, but as the best location to build the new colleges. What many critics of this don't realize is that Yale only needs to purchase one sixth of the Green (specifically, the west half of the north third).

  • jeff g

    again yale out foxes the dummies at city hall, it's really pathetic how they take advantage of the city of new haven

  • travis ing and will horowitz

    we're travis and will!!! lol omg lol we are t3h funni.