June 9th, 2012 | City

City Plan makes changes to Downtown Crossing

New Haven City Hall
New Haven City Hall Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

Downtown Crossing, the city’s $135 million project to remake downtown that stalled in the Board of Aldermen last month, is nearly back on track.

The City Plan Commission voted on Wednesday vote to approve a zoning change that would convert 15.8 acres of land from New Haven’s central business district into a new mixed-use district called BD-3. Route 34 currently covers the area, but with the zoning changes, city officials and developers plan to replace that highway section with urban boulevards and erect a 10-story, 225,000 square-foot medical office tower in the cleared space.

The zoning changes were first approved by the City Plan Commission in April. That vote forwarded the changes to the Board of Aldermen’s joint finance and legislation committee, whose members were to vote on whether to pass the zoning package onward for a critical full-board vote.

But at a public hearing in May, committee members decided to send the zoning changes back to the City Plan Commission after individuals questioned the development’s effect on local neighborhoods and lawyer Marjorie Shansky pointed out a defect in public notice for the hearing.

“We aren’t seeing everything as clearly as we would like, and we want to know how this is really going to help the city,” Ward 3 Alderman Ohan Karagozian said at the May hearing. “There’s no guarantee that the jobs this project promises to create will go to New Haven residents, and the long term effects on traffic are unclear.”

On Wednesday night in City Hall, City Plan Commission members voted favorably for their second time on the zoning changes, sending the package back to the joint finance and legislation committee, this time with a more extensive document of public notice.

The joint finance and legislation committee is scheduled to review the zoning changes for the second time on June 14.