In the past month, economic development projects have forced residents to navigate many closed sidewalks and construction-ridden streets.
In an effort to spur economic growth, the city has undertaken several development projects in the past months, including the Route 34 Downtown Crossing Project as well two different housing projects in downtown. Deputy Economic Development Administrator Matt Nemerson explained that these large-scale development projects not only require construction of physical buildings but also necessitate massive street repairs because underground gas, electrical and sewage lines must be expanded to accommodate the larger buildings.
One such construction site is at 1104 Chapel Street — a University owned property formerly occupied by Scoozzi Restaurant — where University Properties is bringing in new eatery Harvest Wine Bar and Restaurant. The construction at this site is related to building drainage repairs according to Lauren Zucker, Associate Vice President for New Haven Affairs and University Properties.
Although Yale students said they have not been significantly disrupted by the road work, some local businesses expressed frustration about the road-work.
Gene Dostie, Manager of Derek Simpson Goldsmith, a jewelry shop located next door to the construction site at 1104 Chapel Street said the noise and dust resulting from the road work has caused him and his customers frustration.
“There has been a lot of noise. We’ve had to deal with jackhammers, cranes, drills,” Dostie said.
He added that on top of that, the street construction has caused a large number of parking meters to be withdrawn from the street in order to allow traffic flow. According to Dostie, many customers have complained of a lack of parking spots, often having to come back to the store at a later time just to find a parking spot.
The construction does not seem to trouble Yale students, though. All four students interviewed said they were unaffected by the construction. Two of those students even reported not noticing the on-going construction.
The recent increase in construction projects, Nemerson said, results from construction companies’ belief that the economy is recovering from the economic crash of 2008.
“Interest rates have been low for a long enough period of time to soothe those who were skeptical about whether it would stay low long enough for them to build and move people in,” said Nemerson.
As result of this renewed confidence, construction has begun on a variety of new apartment buildings.
Nemerson also explained that there has been an increase in demand for apartment buildings for several reasons, including a desire to move to urban neighborhoods.
“All these things are combining to make rental housing attractive and we’re one of very few cities that do not have a large supply of market rate modern rental housings. You’re seeing demand that is in the thousands but the supply is in the hundreds. This causes developers to move in,” explained Nemerson.
A new housing development project on Crown and College will add 160 market-rate apartments to downtown New Haven.