City approves demolition plans

Starting next month, Yale will begin demolition of the buildings currently occupying the proposed site of the new School of Management campus.

The City Plan Commission at its meeting Wednesday approved Yale’s proposal to raze the buildings. The demolition is scheduled to occur around March 1, the date the Board of Aldermen will meet to vote on the new SOM campus, University Associate Vice President for New Haven and State Affairs Michael Morand ’87 DIV ’93 said at the meeting. He added that he expects the simultaneous demolition and approval of the campus will allow Yale to achieve its goal of a fall 2013 opening for the new campus.

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Preparatory work has already begun on at least one of the three buildings on the site — 175 Whitney Ave. — and Morand said the demolition is expected to take about five months once it officially starts.

The Board of Aldermen has not yet approved the SOM campus designs. In December, the commission required Yale to start construction no more than 90 days after demolition to help to keep the property from remaining empty for too long. But at a public aldermanic hearing last week, the legislation committee amended this condition; the city can now regulate the site between the demolition and construction periods to prevent the lot from remaining empty in case Yale does not have the funding for construction. The change in stance demonstrates the city’s willingness to speed up the approval process, City Plan Commission Chair Edward Mattison said after Wednesday’s meeting.

“It’s meant to untie [Yale’s] hands,” he said.

Still, commission member and Ward 10 Alderman Justin Elicker FES ’10 SOM ’10 raised concerns during the meeting about whether it was appropriate for the commission to approve the demolition plan if the plan has not been approved by the full board. But Morand and City Plan Executive Director Karyn Gilvarg ARC ’75 said demolition can be approved independently of the board’s approval of the SOM designs.

Last week, the aldermanic legislation committee recommended approval of the new SOM campus to the full board, rejecting a petition by local preservationist Anstress Farwell GRD ’78 to delay aldermanic proceedings. The full board is expected to make a decision about the SOM designs March 1, and Elicker said he anticipates the full board will “strongly consider” the committee’s recommendations.

“I don’t expect it to be an incredibly long conversation,” he added.

Mattison said after Wednesday’s meeting that approval for Yale’s zoning application is virtually guaranteed.

“That battle is over,” he quipped.

If the full board approves the SOM campus designs, Yale will then be able to submit construction plans to the City Plan Commission for further approval. Yale hopes to submit these plans by April so that the commission can approve them by May and construction can begin this summer, Morand said in an e-mail Thursday.

Comments

  • Huh?

    Let’s see, they want to tear down the existing buildings on Whitney Ave. next month so a new campus can be open for 2013 however the funding is not on the books and borrowing needs to be capped. Is there an accountant who can explain?

  • puzzled

    Yale is having layoffs and cutting services due to budget problems. But we’re building a new SOM and doing all the site work for two new colleges. I want to hire Yale’s accountants.