Despite contentious debate about a new apartment complex at the corner of Chapel and Howe Streets, the New Haven Board of Zoning Appeals unanimously approved an application for development at its monthly meeting Tuesday night.
Although local residents and officials raised concerns that a proposed 136-unit apartment complex would create more private parking spaces while damaging local historical properties, the five members of the zoning board approved the application, submitted by Stamford-based construction firm RMS Companies. The proposed project will rehabilitate 169 Dwight St. and 175 Dwight St., while it will demolish the building at 1249 Chapel St.
Two interviewed members of the Board said after the vote that the project would promote economic development in the area despite the planned demolition of a historical building.
“In an ideal world, we’d like to save all the historical buildings, but it doesn’t work that way,” said Patricia King, one of the members present at the meeting. “These developers all have different financial issues they have to worry about … They’re saving two [historical buildings], and you can’t always get everything you want.”
King said that the development would be a “significant improvement” because some of the properties involved in the project have been vacant, adding that the application demonstrated that the proposal qualified for the approval that the developer was seeking.
Fellow Board of Zoning member Victor Fasano agreed. Looking at what he said was the “big picture,” the plan would be a major development for the area as a whole. The new apartment complex would revitalize the neighborhood and bring in new residents who will enliven the area by supporting business, said Deputy Director of Economic Development for New Haven Tony Bialecki last Thursday.
Some local residents complained that the apartment complex would include 90 private parking spaces and fail to alleviate the demand for public parking, since the new parking spots would be reserved for the apartment’s residents. The new complex will be located across the street from Yale’s parking lot on Chapel Street, which is also not available for public use. Fasano addressed this concern at Tuesday’s meeting.
“I understand [the concern about parking], but in the development of the plan, some compromise was made,” Fasano said. “It was determined that because of the layout of the aisles for parking, [the project] would use a smaller piece of land than ordinarily required.”
Fasano added that because the parking was residential, cars would not disturb the surrounding area by entering and exiting the complex constantly.
RMS founder and lead project developer Randy Salvatore told the News last Thursday that he is willing to make compromises with local New Haven residents, pledging to allow a reduction in the size of the parking lot if residents desired. He also made the building facade appear more like a retail location after hearing residents’ complaints.
The New Haven Preservation Trust, the Chapel West Services District and the city’s Department of Economic Development declared their support for the application to the News last Thursday.