Approval likely for new SOM campus

The Board of Aldermen is expected to approve the proposal for the new School of Management campus at tonight’s meeting.

Thirteen of the 30 aldermen said in interviews Sunday night that they will vote for the proposal, adding that they expect the rest of the board to approve it as well. A majority vote is needed in order for the proposal to be passed (and Ward 19 Alderwoman Alfreda Edwards said she will not attend because of illness). The aldermen said they have not heard any opposition from their peers about the proposal, and they anticipate that discussion will not extend beyond tonight’s meeting.

A visualization of Lord Norman Foster’s ARC ’62 sleek plans for the new School of Management campus.
A visualization of Lord Norman Foster’s ARC ’62 sleek plans for the new School of Management campus.
No caption.
No caption.

“I haven’t heard anything that would indicate that it’s not going to pass,” Board President Carl Goldfield said. Ward 1 Alderman Mike Jones ’11 agreed, saying he “absolutely” thinks it will pass.

Still, this is not the final step for Yale. If the full board approves the SOM campus designs, Yale must then submit site plans to the City Plan Commission for further approval and receive a building permit from the city to start construction.

Michael Morand ’87 DIV ’93, University associate vice president for New Haven and state affairs, said in an e-mail Sunday that he is “very hopeful” for approval by the full board tonight. Yale has reached out to at least one alderman about the proposal: Ward 10 Alderman Justin Elicker SOM ’10 FES ’10 said the Office of New Haven and State Affairs sent him a packet filled with letters of support from community members.

On Feb. 11, the aldermanic legislation committee recommended a revised version of the SOM campus plans, which was created before the first public hearing Jan. 28 and featured more landscaping and walking space than the original plans. The committee’s recommendation also tacked on three amendments to appease some of the SOM’s future neighbors.

The amendments were adapted from proposals made by the City Plan Commission in December. The first amendment would make official the newly revised designs, which Yale officials presented during the Jan. 28 hearing. The second requires Yale to grant pedestrians and bicyclists access to the walkways around the building so that they can travel more easily through the neighborhood. The third amendment says the city can regulate the site between demolition and construction periods to prevent the lot from remaining empty in case Yale does not have the funding for construction.

Ward 7 Alderwoman Frances “Bitsie” Clark said that, based on her past experience, it is “very rare” for the full board not to approve a proposal that has been unanimously recommended by the legislation committee. She added that if aldermen had strong opposition, they would have voiced their opinions during the public hearings.

At least three of the aldermen — Elicker, Ward 25 Alderman Greg Dildine and Ward 27 Alderman Tom Lehtonen — said they expect discussion at the meeting, although they declined to elaborate on what may be discussed. Elicker said the aldermen could unanimously decide not to discuss the proposal, though he added that he hopes discussion will occur.

But potential hurdles could arise if any alderman raises concerns or proposes an amendment, which could prolong discussion, aldermanic legislation committee member and Ward 14 Alderwoman Stephanie Bauer said. Dildine, also a member of the legislation committee, said the rest of the board has not mentioned any amendments they would like to add to the proposal.

At the annual State of the City address Feb. 1, Mayor John DeStefano Jr. said he wanted the full board to approve the project because it will be an educational and economic boon for the city.

University Planner Laura Cruickshank said she hopes the new campus to open by fall 2013.

Esther Zuckerman and Egidio DiBenedetto contributed reporting.

Comments

  • student

    As part of this new building, can Yale do something about Whitney Avenue, specifically the insane speeding, red light running and cars flying around corners on reds?

    Whitney is like a wall between the main campus and the new SOM campus site & East Rock.

    SOM feels integrated now but won’t once it moves across on the other side of the highway.

    Whitney is a death trap and it would be horrible to have students run over, which will no doubt happen if nothing is done about the situation on Whitney.