Three companies are vying for the chance to build a four-and-a-half-star hotel on the Coliseum site, as part of a massive development project to revitalize New Haven’s downtown.
The 4.5-acre plot next to the Knights of Columbus Building on Route 34, formerly the site of a sports arena, will host the hotel as well as 200,000 square feet of office space, 1,000 housing units, 76,000 square feet of retail space and a large public square. The City of New Haven has been making preparations for the first phase of the $400 million Coliseum project since last December, when plans were approved by the Board of Alders and presented to international development firm LiveWorkLearnPlay.
“The hotel companies are all global brand names and all very popular in big cities around America, and it will be great for us to have a four star hotel with a big conference area,” said Matthew Nemerson SOM ’81, the city’s economic development administrator under Mayor Toni Harp.
Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy has requested that LiveWorkLearnPlay make a final decision about a hotel company before the state commits $20 million in funds to improving road conditions around the Coliseum site.
Nemerson said the reason for this request was that the governor wanted state funds to have an immediate impact on the state. The road improvement project will involve connecting two sections of Orange Street to create a new intersection at which the hotel can be located.
“We have spent at least half of our time trying to complete the design of that intersection with the state,” Nemerson said. “They’ve been very actively involved because they’re responsible for the bridge and the highway.”
Since further progress on the Coliseum Project depends on securing state funds for the intersection, LiveWorkLearnPlay developer Max Reim has agreed to settle on a hotel company in the next few weeks.
Construction on the Coliseum site will begin next spring or summer and proceed in two phases. The first phase will build restaurants, shops and apartments in addition to the flagship hotel, and will cost around $150 million. The second phase, set to begin in 2016, will construct offices and more housing units by 2020.
Nemerson said another challenge to the project is securing government funding to allow LiveWorkLearnPlay to develop affordable housing because the original proposal called for 20 percent affordable housing.
The city has high hopes for the long-term benefits of the Coliseum Project. The new developments will attract up to 35 businesses and 20 seasonal firms by 2016 and create about 2,800 full time jobs. The project’s two phases will also yield around 4,700 construction jobs.
Brian Wingate, Alder for Ward 29, said he supports the project for its potential to create more jobs, as well as s and corporations like Alexion Pharmaceuticals, according to Nemerson.
“New Haven has a very special role in the region because we are a place that jobs will be created,” Nemerson said. “The downtown has to be something that will attract even more investment and more people from around the world because that’s what great cities do.”
Although the Coliseum Project was set in motion by the administration of former Mayor John DeStefano, Jr., the administration of Mayor Harp has pledged its support for the project since last year.