Construction of Gateway Community College’s new downtown campus is proceeding apace and nearby businesses could not be more pleased.
None of the seven businesses surrounding to the new 380,000 square foot building’s construction site on Church Street interviewed Tuesday said they had experienced disturbances from recent exterior framing work, which Dimeo Construction expects to finish as planned next month, and all expressed enthusiasm about the prospect of an uptick in traffic once the campus opens to students in September 2012. Gateway’s director of public relations and marketing Evelyn Gard said construction work had not incurred any complaints for noise or disturbance, and that she was seeing enthusiasm grow among local businesses as the building took shape.
Gard said the project is within budget and interior structure such as floors and walls will be fitted through next year once the exterior of the college is completed in January.
Through the winter, internal infrastructure work will continue and she expects the building to receive a Certificate of Occupancy, showing compliance with local building codes and regulations, from the New Haven Building Department by spring 2012.
A May 2008 paper by Economic Modeling Specialists Inc., an independent Moscow, Idaho-based labor market research organization, suggested the economic impact of Gateway’s new campus in New Haven would be an additional $389.9 million in regional income each year.
Gard said she anticipated the expected figure would be revised upward next time a study is undertaken, in the next year or two.
“Based on the population increase at the college and the fact that our enrollments are increasing, I’m guessing we could be looking at a boost of $400 million or more,” she said.
New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. said the new campus was an important workforce development institution for New Haven.
“This is a density promoting project and complements other downtown initiatives,” he said, adding that having an influx of both young and old people into the central business district would enliven the city.
In his budget outlook presentation at City Hall last Tuesday, the mayor identified transforming the downtown area into a strong job and tax generator as one of his top three priorities in the coming years, along with improving public schools and strengthening local neighborhoods.
Businesses such as Atlas Restaurant, which is under the Temple Street Garage, are already feeling the effects of the new campus development. Co-owner George Kriskris said the construction had not caused any disturbance since foundations were laid, and added that site workers frequented his diner, boosting sales.
He and co-owner Angelo Krisrkis said they both felt the new Gateway campus’ opening could only mean good news for their business, which has been experiencing rising customer numbers in the past few months.
Alecia McPherson, supervisor at Rite-Aid, which is next to the construction site, said she felt the over 14,000 students expected to attend the new Gateway campus would drive up demand for necessities at both Rite-Aid and other nearby business.
“Traffic has been pretty good given the overall economy,” she said. “But we’ll add to business with the new college campus – and it’ll make the city a more exciting place.”
The campus will hold a ‘topping-off’ ceremony Jan. 21 to celebrate the placing of the last metal beam on its frame.
Alon Harish and Danny Serna contributed reporting.