Graduate students, University officials and developers gathered for a ceremonial groundbreaking Wednesday morning in front of construction vehicles and dirt piles arranged artfully at 272 Elm St., the location of Yale’s newest graduate student dormitories.
University President Peter Salovey heralded the project — which will feature two levels of retail space and 41 two-bedroom units in addition to common areas for graduate and professional students — as a new community for its occupants.
While construction ensues, another one of Yale’s planned construction projects is now expected exit legislative limbo.
The New Haven Independent reported Thursday that Yale had threatened to delay part of its annual voluntary payment of $8.2 million to the city as leverage to clear the way for the University’s new science building plan. After a meeting between Yale, alders and other city officials, the city agreed to greenlight Yale’s new science building plan in exchange for the release of the check — which would otherwise create a deficit for the city at the end of its fiscal year.
The University aims to construct a new science building at the current location of the Gibbs lab, a project that would include six floors totaling over 280,000 square feet of teaching and research space. Construction for the project, previously called the Yale Biology Building, was postponed in early 2009 due to economic downturn.
Before those plans can move forward, the city’s union-supported Board of Alders must approve an overall parking plan. A recently amended city zoning ordinance requires that Yale receive aldermanic approval for an overall campus parking plan for each new building project.
While the board’s legislation and community development committees unanimously approved Yale’s overall parking plan July 27, the full Board of Alders must also approve the plan at their next meeting Sept. 6.
“We are hopeful that we will come to a positive resolution of our overall parking plan at the hearing on Sept. 6, which will then pave the way for our projects to move forward,” Yale spokeswoman Karen Peart said. “We are looking forward to working in partnership with the City to further improve parking and transportation in New Haven.”
At the July 27 joint committee meeting, the New Haven Independent reported that alders heard several hours of testimony regarding parking and transportation issues in the city before a debate and vote were held on the parking plan.
According to the Independent, the joint committee approved the parking plan under two conditions authored by Westville Alder Adam Marchand GRD ’99. The first condition asks Yale to establish a parking lot in New Haven close to Hamden or North Haven so commuting Yale employees can park and take a University shuttle. This condition also includes a request for Yale to “partner with local transit agencies in order to provide reduced cost monthly transit passes to Yale commuters” and to create a bicycle plan for the downtown and campus area in conjunction with the city. The second condition covers future parking plan issues between the University and the alders, clarifying whether Yale would need parking plan approval from the board when it engages with the City Plan Commission or Board of Zoning Appeals for construction projects.
At the groundbreaking ceremony for the graduate dorms Aug. 24, Director of University Properties and New Haven Affairs Lauren Zucker declined to comment on how the University would work to comply with the conditions set by Marchand.
The University says the new building would create 250 construction jobs in the process of upgrading and renovating Yale’s science facilities.