Finding a place to park is challenging enough for people who work in the Broadway shopping district, but when Yale’s newly approved 73-foot-tall apartment building fills one of the area’s only available lots, parking may become even harder.
New Haven’s Board of Zoning Appeals voted unanimously on July 14 to permit Yale to begin work on the Elm Street lot adjacent to Tyco Printing. The site, which will contain dozens of graduate student dorms, will partially offset the loss of rooms from the 2017 renovation of the Hall of Graduate Studies. But the board also exempted Yale from building any new parking spaces, despite the city’s recommendation that 145 spaces be built to accommodate the new apartments and nearby retail stores.
“It’s a crazy intersection [of Whalley Avenue, Broadway and Goffe Street] which adds a lot of excitement and color to the area,” said City Economic Development Director Matthew Nemerson SOM ’81, adding that New Haven sees the Broadway shopping district as similar to the Harvard Square area in Cambridge. “It’s going to be an exciting, congested, busy place. Our strategy is to let Yale go wild and build what they want.”
For years, the city has been slowly changing its zoning laws to permit more mixed-retail space — locations with residential and retail tenants. With the new apartment building, the first two floors of which are planned to be retail space, Yale is bringing exactly this type of mixed-retail space to Elm Street.
Employees of nearby stores like Maison Mathis, Tyco Printing and Trailblazer may be the ones most impacted by the exemption and the displacement of the parking spaces. The Tyco Printing delivery van parks in the lot, and one lot employee said the lot is almost at full capacity five times a week, adding that Yale students buy spaces there for months at a time. Street parking has a two-hour limit, and for workers trying to save money, finding cheap parking often drives them outside the Broadway area.
Eddie Raymond, who works in the adjacent Trailblazer store, said that after the new apartments arrive, “driving through Broadway will be a complete nightmare.”
Some employees at Maison Mathis, a cafe on Elm Street, park in the lot of Stop and Shop and walk to work each morning — a nine-minute trip according to Google Maps.
“Everywhere is a walk. We don’t park anywhere close,” said Maison Mathis employee Cameron Wright.
Yale’s journey from blueprints to Zoning Board approval was not without pushback and protest from the city, however. In February, a staff report from Deputy Director of Zoning Tom Talbot recommended that the board deny Yale’s request for an exemption from replacing parking spaces, among other concerns.
Even though the University received a formal exemption from adding parking spaces, Nemerson said the city still wants to make sure Yale has an organized plan to create off-site parking. According to Nemerson, Yale is planning to expand the parking lot outside the UPS store on Dixwell Avenue to create more open-access parking. However, even that possibility is not ideal, Elm Street employees said, because the parking would be much farther away.
“Our concern is that all the employee parking and all the institutional parking will be taken out of that zone so that all [that there is] is one-to two-hour parking,” Nemerson said. “Why would [Yale] want employees to be competing with customers?”
Correction: Sept. 4
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the intersection of streets that City Economic Development Director Matthew Nemerson was referring to. He was speaking about Whalley Avenue, Broadway and Goffe Street — not Elm Street, Broadway and York Street.