A Dixwell mixed-use development featuring several units of affordable housing resurfaced at a Board of Zoning Appeals meeting Tuesday evening.
The St. Luke’s Development Corporation, represented by the Yale Law School’s Ludwig Center for Community & Economic Development, presented plans for a lot spanning parts of Whalley Avenue, Sperry Street and Dickerman Street. The development will include 32 total housing units, with 10 units set aside for elderly residents. In addition, the church seeks to build general office space, a health practitioner’s office, a music school and a beauty shop. Jahi Wise LAW ’16, speaking for the church, said the project has been tailored in response to community calls for more commercial space along Whalley Avenue. The development will act as an anchor for the neighborhood and help extend the downtown area up the Whalley Avenue corridor, Wise said.
“Our goal, as evidenced by our name, is to provide high-quality affordable housing to the residents of our neighborhood, which is well documented as something that’s in high demand in this community,” Wise said.
St. Luke’s Development Corporation sought several variances, including ones to allow 28 dwelling units on a smaller lot than required, a higher building height than permitted and no front yard. The church also sought a special exception to allow 36 parking spaces where 58 are required.
Plans for the development have appeared before the board and the City Plan Commission in prior years but have stalled due to financing issues.
Chairman of the corporation Samuel Andoh said that, in consultation with the city, the corporation has been able to move development forward by splitting the project into two smaller portions. The corporation intends to finish the property facing Sperry Street and Dickerman Street first, Andoh said, before working on the commercial portion facing Whalley.
In February, the city committed $100,000 toward the housing development through its Livable Cities Initiative — a housing-code enforcement agency and neighborhood-development department.
The board eventually referred the requests for variances to the City Plan Commission, which will meet next Wednesday.
Requests for variances on two other downtown housing developments, referred from the commission’s meeting last month, were approved unanimously by the board. Located at 19 Elm St. and 418 State St., the developments, backed by local real estate firm MOD Equities, are slated to include 64 total housing units.
“It amazes me — the amount of housing we’re able to stick into New Haven,” board member Patricia King said.
The board also gave a new hair salon and specialty pasta store the go-ahead to set up shop in East Rock and Wooster Square, respectively.
Dan Lyon and Jenna Vollono, the owners of the Hive Hair Studio located at the corner of Whitney Avenue and Trumbull Street, sought a special exception to open a second branch on 153 Nicoll St. in East Rock.
Lyon said the building on Nicoll Street had formerly housed a barbershop several decades ago. Many of Hive’s East Rock customers had expressed interest in a hair salon within their neighborhood, he added.
Jamie Freda, a small-business owner backed by Project Storefronts, described her new venture, which she sought to locate at 516 Chapel St., as a “raw vegan bakery market.” Freda is looking to open Project Pasta, which will specialize in gluten-free pasta, along with sauces and olive oils.
By locating Project Pasta in Wooster Square, Freda — an Italian-trained chef — would be able to provide the neighborhood with affordable and nutritious food options, she said.
“I’m suspicious of gluten-free pasta, but there’s no basis to deny [the request],” board member Charles Decker GRD ’17 said.
The Board of Zoning Appeals will next meet May 10.