After initiating the project over a year ago, men’s clothing store J. Press is set to demolish its 262 York St. building and reconstruct a replacement.
Located between Davenport College and Gant, the three-floor building housed J. Press from 1902 until last November, when the company moved to College Street to renovate the 19th century building. After a large snowstorm caused structural damage to the building in early 2013, the city declared it unsafe and J. Press announced its plans to demolish it in January. The project was delayed multiple times, but the building is scheduled to come down by February and, according to J. Press manager James Fitzgerald, will be replaced by a new J. Press at the same address.
Although Fitzgerald confirmed to the News that the clothing store plans to reconstruct a new J. Press at 262 York, others involved in the project were not aware of this development.
“We have been working with J. Press during their demolition planning to minimize disruption in the area and to our adjacent properties,” Director of University Properties Lauren Zucker said in an email. “We do not know what their future plans for the site will be.”
University Properties owns 268 York, which houses Gant right next door to J. Press.
According to Dan Tomai, CEO and president of Signature Construction — the Brooklyn-based construction company leading the project — the building will be immediately replaced by a steel frame to support the neighboring building with which 262 York shares a wall. The project has been delayed since last November, after J. Press deemed their previous construction contractor unfit for working on a college campus, Tomai said. He added that he was not aware of the future plans for the site.
The announcement about the upcoming demolition comes after the New Haven Preservation Trust has fought for the building’s renovation, rather than demolition. According to New Haven Preservation Services officer John Herzan, the building is a “rare 19th century second-empire style building” that is registered under the New Haven Historic Resources Inventory.
“All we wanted to do, is have an explanation of why the building could not be renovated,” Herzan said. “The New Haven Preservation Trust regarded the building as a very significant historic resource and was very hopeful that the outcome could have been a different one.”
Herzan said that his board had been monitoring the development of the project for the past year and had tried to contact J. Press, to no avail. He said the New Haven Preservation Trust was not aware of the plan to build a new J. Press and that the company did not provide an explanation of why the building had to be demolished.
Fitzgerald said that because of severe structural damage, the building was condemned. Following snowstorm Nemo in February 2013, the building suffered structural deterioration, as determined by city inspectors. After an inspection by city officials, the building was deemed unsafe and qualified for an expedited demolition. J. Press then relocated to 260 College St., with the aid of University Properties.
Fitzgerald added that the building had “not been registered as a historical building,” and that if the deconstruction of the building was a large issue to New Haven residents, there would have been protests.
Gant manager Patrick Harris said that although the beginning stages of construction have not yet affected his business, the project will eventually close the sidewalk, which may affect the store.
“Luckily, we have two side doors,” Harris said.
In addition to New Haven, J. Press has locations in Washington D.C., Boston and New York City.