At their meeting Wednesday night, members of the City Plan Commission approved of New Haven city officials’ plan to sell and lease a set of city properties to Yale University, as well a move to sell property to Amistad Academy.
The Commission approved the sale of a $3.35 million city lot located on 156 Washington Avenue to Yale. It also approved the plan to lease two traffic medians — Market Island and Begonia Island , which stand between Broadway retailers including Trailblazer and J.Crew — to the University for 99 years for roughly $400,000.
The two medians were installed in the mid-1990s in order to solve a traffic problems, New Haven’s Deputy Economic Development Administrator Chrissy Bonanno ’01 said.
“When I first got my license, the intersection was just like a pretzel,” Bonanno said. “It was a nightmare. There was no way for pedestrians to cross from one side of Broadway to another.”
Since the construction of the islands, the University has taken responsibility for their maintenance. Bonanno said Yale only expressed an interest in claiming ownership of the islands last year in hopes of formalizing its upkeep of the plot.
When it came to the leasing of the medians, though, the City found itself stalled in red tape and confusion. A series of city laws prohibits the sale of public, traffic-related property, and instead requires its equitable distribution between neighboring private owners.
Not wanting to subdivide already small plots (and lacking necessary precedent on the situation), city officials came to the conclusion that it would be best to lease the property to the University under a distinctive lease policy.
The distinctive lease’s $400,000 first-year premium was determined based on appraisals of the plot’s market price value. The lease will cost Yale $1 for each year of its subsequent 98-year ownership.
The proposal was immediately well received by the Commission.
“We really have to give kudos to the business development initiatives there,” City Engineer Richard Miller said. “This is all great for people who live in the City.”
Added Commissioner Roy Smith Jr.: “I’m all for anything that keeps the skateboarders off.”
These recent purchases are keeping in line with Yale’s plans for expansion prior to the downturn of the economy, Bonanno added.
“Even though Yale has announced its slowdown,” Bonanno said, “they’re at the level of construction that they were at three years ago, which was still part of the Yale growth initiative.”
City officials also plan to sell the Dwight School property to Amistad Academy for $4.51 million.
Despite the City Plan Commission’s approval, city officials require final approval from the Board of Aldermen before they can act on these transaction plans.