J. Press demolition discussed

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Photo by Dana Schneider.

City officials held a planning meeting on Wednesday afternoon with representatives of J. Press to discuss the planned demolition of the store’s York Street location this March.

The building, located at 262 York St., housed the upscale clothing store from 1902 until last February, when winter storm Nemo caused such severe damage that the city declared the structure unsafe.

After three engineers separately inspected the building [and declared it unsafe], the store moved into two interim locations in anticipation of demolition in March. City officials convened the meeting to discuss details of the demolition.

City officials met with representatives from J. Press and its demolition and construction contractors at City Hall. Representatives from Yale University Properties, which owns buildings adjacent to 262 York St., also attended.

Matthew Brandimarte of Connecticut Dismantling, which has been hired by J. Press, presented his company’s tentative plans for the demolition. Most of the meeting was spent discussing the details of his proposal, which calls for knocking down the structure over the course of three days. Brandimarte said that he has been working on the project since August.

“The reason this is taking so long is that these buildings were built in the late 1800s and early 1900s,” Brandimarte said.

To minimize the impact of the demolition on neighboring businesses and on Yale, J Press’ contractors hope to complete the entire project in one weekend. Their tentative target is the weekend of March 7 through March 9, which falls during Yale’s spring break and before the St. Patrick’s Day parade scheduled for March 16.

On the final day of work, when the contractors plan to tear down the largest, three-story section of the property, city officials will likely shut down York Street to all traffic except buses and emergency vehicles.

262 York St. shares a 30-foot section of its wall with a building owned by Yale University Properties. Lauren Zucker, associate vice president for New Haven Affairs and University Properties, said that preparing for the demolition and renovation is a collaborative process.

Gant, a tenant of Yale University Properties, will likely have to close on the day that the largest portion of the building comes down.

“We’re all working together to ensure that it’s a safe project,” said Zucker. “It’s a busy area.”

Though members of the New Haven community, including the New Haven Preservation Trust, opposed the store’s whole-scale demolition, there was no serious discussion of alternative plans at Wednesday’s planning meeting.

The building that stands at 262 York St. was constructed in 1860, more than 40 years before J. Press was founded.

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