Two developers have taken on one of the most extensive building projects in the city’s history by partnering with West Haven Mayor Edward O’Brien on a 350,000-square-foot shopping center called “The Haven.”
In early June, developer Sheldon Gordon of Greenwich and investor Ty Miller of Dallas announced plans to construct a $200 million high-end shopping center with around 100 outlet stores, six restaurants, a hotel and apartments. They selected the West River Crossing site, a vacant property on which West Haven has unsuccessfully attempted to build over the past two decades. The Haven will also feature a parking lot with more than 2,000 above-ground spaces, including areas for valet and covered parking. The project recently generated significant attention when Gov. Dannel Malloy visited the site late last week to pledge his support.
“When government comes together — state, local and federal — when the private sector comes to the table and when there are great community leaders … we can get things done,” Malloy said at a meeting held at the site.
The West River Crossing site includes a four-acre stretch of contaminated public land along New Haven Harbor that used to be the location of the Connecticut Refining Company. In August, the state pledged $2 million to remediate the soil. The site also includes 20 privately owned properties along Water, Main and Elm Streets, the purchase of which O’Brien and the city are nearly finished negotiating.
“This will make West Haven a destination place,” O’Brien said in a meeting at City Hall.
Gordon said The Haven will aim to reach an affluent market extending well beyond West Haven. It will be unique among outlet malls in that it will incorporate exclusively high-end retailers as opposed to mixing them with mass appeal stores.
“We’re taking only the best retailers, so that people know exactly what they’re coming here for,” he said. “This is the only center that we know of in the world that has been designed to have exclusively high-end outlets.”
In addition to attracting visitors from outside the city, O’Brien said that the project will generate around 1,200 entry-, mid- and executive-level jobs. It will create hundreds of construction jobs and generate more than $3 million in annual tax revenue for the city. He also said that there has been a large outpouring of support for the project by local businesses, many of which believe that it will help correct the false perception of West Haven as a city unfriendly to businesses.
Both of the project’s developers have a wealth of experience in the field.
Forbes Magazine described Gordon as “a powerful if under-chronicled influence in the mall business over the last quarter-century.” He was responsible for the construction of the Beverly Center in Los Angeles, one of the city’s most popular malls, as well as the Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace in both Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Miller was responsible for developing Highland Park Village in Dallas.
Gordon said that he expects to begin initial construction by March 2015 and open in fall 2016. He and O’Brien have already met with Malloy to address the complex implications the project will have for transportation in West Haven and its surrounding areas, including but not limited to enhancements to nearby Interstate 95 exit ramps.
Gordon has been building malls professionally for 45 years.