The state of Connecticut agreed to award a total of $3.8 million to 21 communities last week, including New Haven’s Science Park.
In coordination with the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the state government will provide this money to redevelop brownfield sites — lands previously used for industrial or commercial purposes. The DECD will contribute $200,000 to New Haven, to be used to improve 3.5 acres as part of the next phase of development in Science Park, which used to house the Winchester Repeating Arms Factory.
In the 1950s, New Haven’s economy was concentrated almost exclusively within the manufacturing industry. Today, while manufacturing remains an important component of the regional economy, the focus has shifted to sectors like education, health care and financial services.
“As Connecticut’s economy continues to grow, more and more of our legacy manufacturing and other brownfield sites are becoming ripe for redevelopment and reuse,” Malloy said in a statement. “21 communities will be able to prepare key sites that are in many cases vacant and blighted for a return to productive uses that will grow jobs and improve quality of life across the state.”
The project, administered through the state’s Municipal Brownfields Assessment and Inventory Grant Program, will allow agencies to investigate 310 acres across 48 sites total in Connecticut. Under this program, applicants are eligible to receive grants of up to $200,000 to get the projects started.
DECD Commissioner Catherine Smith SOM ’83 said that projects selected for funding represent the strongest applications whose goals are in line with Gov. Malloy’s priorities. She said the department was looking for sites devoted to affordable housing development and transit-oriented development.
Science Park was established in 1982 as a collaboration between Yale and New Haven and sits on 80 acres of land between Yale’s Science Hill and New Haven’s Newhallville neighborhood.
Now home to research labs, tech startups and biotech companies, the park could soon add residential and retail spaces to reshape the space into a 24-hour community through initiatives spearheaded Yale’s University Properties and Forest City Enterprises.
In September, Malloy and city economic development officials broke ground on the Winchester Lofts, a $60 million project that will bring 158 loft-style residential units to the park and is slated to be completed this summer. Carter Winstanley, a principal of the real estate company, Winstanley Enterprises LCC, said that developing Science Park is key to furthering entrepreneurship in New Haven and attracting businesses to the city.
“The development of Science Park is just one more piece to the puzzle in providing real estate solutions to science based tenants,” Winstanley said. “To grow the Science Park area even more, we need to continue to invest in companies who innovate.”
He pointed to Alexion as one company that got its start in Science Park and is now returning to New Haven. He said that for Science Park and greater New Haven to be successful, the Elm City must help foster as many of these companies as possible.
Prior to redevelopment of a brownfield or suspected contaminated site, environmental assessments are often required to provide more information to potential redevelopers about the site’s environmental conditions.