After more than a year of planning and negotiations, the city of New Haven made their first offer Wednesday to purchase four spaces on Crown and George streets, where it plans to move the New Haven Arts and Humanities High School.

The Crown Street location was chosen out of more than 20 original possibilities because of its proximity to artistic resources and the minimal commercial taxable property that will be lost, city officials said. The three privately owned spaces that the city is buying out include Image nightclub, Villa del Sol restaurant, Charlie’s Tires and a 100-car parking lot.

The city originally planned to move the school to the corner of Chapel and Howe, which would have dislocated many more businesses than the current site and broken up the Chapel retail area, Ward 1 Alderman Ben Healey ’04 said. After a series of complaints and a re-evaluation, the Board of Aldermen voted unanimously for the Crown Street site.

“It was a high priority for the rebuilt arts magnet to be in downtown so they could take advantage of the resources downtown has to offer,” Healey said. “The idea is really to build a strong relationship between the arts magnet school and the University and the arts community downtown.”

The high school will be within a short walking distance from the Shubert Theater and various art museums.

Although the current property owners are being forced to give up their space, the city has promised to relocate the displaced businesses and pay for all the expenses accompanying their move.

But Image nightclub owner Dennis Dean said he is not looking forward to the prospect of starting his business over in a new location. He said he is still looking for a place to move and will not continue business in downtown New Haven.

“It took four months, day and night, to set up this nightclub,” Dean said. “But they said I don’t have a choice whether or not to sell it.”

Former Economic Development Administrator Henry Fernandez, who oversaw the initial phases of the planning process, worked with businesses in the area that use the private parking lot to determine the appropriate number of parking spaces that would need to be replaced. Fernandez said that with 1,800 spots between the Temple Medical Garage and the Temple Street Garage, there will be no problem absorbing the extra cars.

“My biggest concern was ensuring that businesses in the area would still be able to operate because they draw a lot of customers and traffic to downtown New Haven,” Fernandez said.

— Staff Reporter Mandy Ruggeri contributed to this report.

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