Looking down Chapel Street, it’s difficult to miss the 34-story tower soaring above its neighboring five-story red bricks. Though the building, named after its address at 360 State St., may appear plain and unassuming, it sticks out like a cowlick in both its size and its long list of superlatives.
Last week, the building joined the ranks of the nation’s most environmentally friendly developments, becoming the third building in Connecticut to be certified LEED Platinum. The $180 million project — designed and developed by Connecticut-based Becker+Becker, co-founded by Bruce Becker ARC ’85 SOM ’85 — will include the second tallest building in New Haven, as well as one of the most expensive. But as advertisements go up around the city in preparation for the building’s completion in late summer, few in the city are signing up: So far just 19 of the 500 units have been reserved.
“It’ll take time for the building to absorb its units,” said Alex Twining ’75 ARC ’77, an urban developer in New York and Boston. “But I think in the long term it’ll be a success.” Jack Hill, the owner of Seabury-Hill Realtors on Wooster Street in New Haven, said while he has no affiliation with 360 State, he expects the apartment to do well because it offers unique features not found elsewhere in the city. He added that 19 reservations of 500 seems reasonable at this time.
“That’s about what I’d expect,” Hill said. “Our season is just starting now.”
Lauren Lenox, the general manager of Bazzuto Management Company, which is heading up the leasing and marketing end of the project, is part of a team that has been working to place ads and generate interest in the project from a small leasing office that opened across the street last month. Introducing the building, Lenox said 360 State’s lobby will boast original artwork by both local and national artists and its facade has been embellished by renowned Yale School of Architecture ornament professor Kent Bloomer ’59 ART ’61. This is all in addition to the private amenities available only to the residents, which include a health club, a concierge service and a daily-refreshed table of cookies and coffee in the building’s lobby.
“The concierge will be able to set up dinner reservations for you and even book you a car if you need a car,” Lenox said. “This is a very sleek and modern building.”
The sales pitch, accompanied by a marketing campaign targeting train stations, has already snagged a reservation for one of the building’s penthouses, at the going rate of $5,100 per month. While Lenox refused to comment on the background of the prospective residents, she noted last week on a tour of the building that many who had shown interest were commuters to and from New Haven.
Twining said while he understands the necessity to appeal the building’s high price point to commuters, he said he didn’t know if the commuter market was “deep enough” to fully rent out 360 State’s hundreds of units.
Indeed, as desirable as the building’s bells and whistles may be, eight New Haven residents interviewed said they are not falling for the glitz.
Niki Berger GRD ’10 said that the building’s long list of comforts do not appeal to her as she doesn’t need a lot from an apartment on Chapel Street.
“It’s just way too expensive for me,” said Berger, who currently she pays around $900 per month for her downtown apartment, while an equivalent apartment in 360 State would cost approximately $1,700.
Similarly, Rachel Brown, a New Haven resident and mother of two, said while she liked the sound of the luxuries, there is no way she could call 360 State Street her home address.
“It all sounds really fancy and good,” she said, standing at the bus stop on Chapel Street a few blocks east of campus last Wednesday afternoon. “But I don’t need to pay an extra couple hundred a month to have someone call restaurants for me. I cook myself.”
Brown currently owns a one-bedroom apartment in the Dixwell neighborhood, which she said not only fits her tight budget better, but also satisfies her needs. She added that her mortgage bills and utility costs combined would still not be more than the cost of the same two-bedroom apartment in the building, which Lenox said currently runs at approximately $2,600 per month.
But Becker, the project’s developer and architect, said the building should not be thought of as a “luxury tower.”
Instead, he emphasized that the project will offer 50 units of affordable housing, which will be identical to full-price suites.
A few blocks away from the development at Walgreens on York Street, 50-year-old Meriden, Conn., resident Fred Coburn said he couldn’t imagine himself living in the building.
Coburn, who works as a nurse’s assistant in Yale-New Haven Hospital said he would like to move to the city, where he works and does most of his shopping, but he was forced to live in the suburbs because New Haven apartments don’t accommodate middle-income people. And by the sound of the extras included in the 360 State’s rental bill — from the private theatre to the concierge desk — Coburn said he wasn’t sure if the building was keeping New Haven’s residents in mind.
Renters are scheduled to be able to move in as early as Aug. 1.