On Thursday — just four days before the gubernatorial election — Gov. Dannel Malloy announced a $21.5 million state contribution to New Haven’s Coliseum Redevelopment project.
The project will connect Orange and South Orange streets in order to link Union Station to the downtown city grid and provide commercial and residential spaces. The state funding will allow the city to begin initial construction on the project this summer. Canadian development firm LiveWorkLearnPlay has taken on the $395 million project, which, when completed, will include a new hotel and bring 4,700 construction jobs and 2,800 permanent jobs to New Haven. LiveWorkLearnPlay partner Max Reim took the stage with Malloy along with Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, Mayor Toni Harp and President of the Board of Alders and Ward 5 Alder Jorge Perez at a Thursday press conference to announce the new contribution.
In response to a question about why the announcement was made so close to election day, Malloy joked “shame on you.” He said that he has been working on the project since its inception in 2012, advocating for a hotel to be developed in the first phase and pushing for adequate funding.
“When the state is working hard to do more with less, public-private partnerships like Downtown Crossing are especially important,” Malloy said to a crowd of over 50 city and state officials and New Haven residents. “They make our cities more attractive to the residents and ultimately to employers, who are seeking to grow their businesses in New Haven.”
Malloy first met with LiveWorkLearnPlay two years ago to discuss the revamping of the Coliseum site, which has been an empty parking lot since 2007. The $21.5 million dollar grant will allow the city to move forward with the first phase of redevelopment, which is to remove a part of the Route 34 highway in order to connect Orange and South Orange streets.
Harp said that the connection will expand the Elm City’s downtown area by providing a seamless pathway between the center of the city and western New Haven.
“This project will reconnect a city that has been artificially and arbitrarily separated for decades,” Harp said.
Although Harp still has not officially endorsed Malloy, she called him a “champion of New Haven” and said she was hopeful for another four years of his leadership.
In addition to a hotel, the redeveloped area at Downtown Crossing will include restaurants, retailers and apartments.
Kiran Marok, director of programming, planning and development at LiveWorkLearnPlay, said the collaboration between the community, New Haven officials and the firm has been excellent. She also said the project has been well-embraced by the community since its infancy.
According to Marok, the project’s construction should start in the early part of summer 2015. She added that the firm is still seeking out potential businesses to occupy the redeveloped site.
In his announcement, Malloy emphasized the Coliseum Redevelopment’s potential to “support the state’s long-term plans to invest in public transportation, affordable housing and transit-oriented development.” He added that the project contributes to his goal of cultivating mixed-use walkable, sustainable communities in the state.
Reim said the project was a “shared vision” between developers in the private sector and public officials at every level in the city.
DeLauro echoed Reim, saying the redevelopment project was a collaborative effort among federal, state and local officials to “make a city sing.”
With 1.1 million square feet of building space, the Coliseum site is the largest vacant area in downtown New Haven.