The building that housed the recently closed Anchor Bar and Restaurant may have a chance for survival.
Mayor Toni Harp’s administration approached Yale University Properties on Tuesday afternoon asking for a 90-day stay on a demolition permit on the property’s original facade. City Economic Development Administrator Matthew Nemerson SOM ’81 said he also appealed to Associate Vice President of University Properties and Director for New Haven Affairs Lauren Zucker for the opportunity to search for an owner for the business to keep the Anchor bar open. He said the positive nature of the conversation is a good example of the relationship that Yale has with the city. Zucker told the New Haven Independent Tuesday evening that the University will refrain from removing the iconic Anchor sign for the time being.
“Yale was running its businesses the way it always does — efficiently. We have been talking about finding new ways to use the existing facade and the exterior of the old building,” he said in an interview with the News.
The Anchor, a historic bar formerly located at 272 College St., closed on Jan. 4 after a slew of unpaid rent payments caused UP to decline a request for a renewed lease. The closure of the bar generated debate amongst New Haven residents, with an online petition reaching over 1,000 supporters.
Nemerson said a number of residents have approached him about taking over the business and keeping it largely the same as it was before it closed.
Karen Peart, a spokesperson from the University’s Office of Public Affairs and Communications, said in an email that a number of people have already expressed interest in leasing the space from UP. She added that the University only controls the real estate and not the Anchor name, signage or business operations, and that UP is accepting proposals from all interested parties.
“People have many different ideas as to what should go into the space and we are listening to the various proposals,” she said. “Contrary to rumors, we have no current plans to change the façade of the building.”
Zucker did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday night.
Conversations between Zucker, UP and Nemerson come alongside action from the New Haven Preservation Trust, a non-profit organization petitioning to preserve the bar’s historic features. The Anchor building is protected by the Connecticut Environmental Protection Act, which may allow for legal action when protected buildings are destructed. The building has also been listed as a part of the Chapel Street Historic District by the National Register of Historic Places since April 1984.
Today, the New Haven Preservation Trust will meet with the Historic District Commission of the City of New Haven to discuss passing a resolution which will preserve the Anchor bar in its current state, preventing UP from making any changes.
John Herzan, NHPT’s preservation services officer, said in a public statement that the Anchor’s blue glass facade is a rare example of Art Moderne design in New Haven. The bar has played a historic role in the city’s cultural and business life, and therefore, it is essential that the Anchor remain in its original condition, the statement said.
New Haven residents who petitioned the bar’s closure on Jan. 4 said they were excited about the city’s efforts to preserve the facade. Jesse Richards, who began the Change.org petition to protect the Anchor bar, said he is talking with other campaigners to see if there is anything that can be done to further protect the bar.
UP has over 85 retail tenants in its portfolio.