After a string of lawsuits over the past two years stalled the development of two of New Haven’s star building projects, the dismissal of the suits marks a new beginning for Wooster Square.
The Philadelphia-based PMC Property Group filed five lawsuits in 2014 aiming to appeal the Board of Alders’ and City Plan Commission’s decisions to approve the Petra and Spinnaker developments, apartment buildings to be located next to PMC’s Strouse Adler apartment building behind State Street Station. A Connecticut Supreme Court judge dismissed the lawsuits in May, and last week, an appellate court panel threw out PMC’s two appeals, City Hall spokesman Laurence Grotheer said.
The company’s tactic — common in large cities such as New York — is to allege that City Hall illegally approved zoning for the projects, said Noel Petra, who is developing a 299-unit complex at 87 Union St., half a mile east of Old Campus.
“We didn’t think at any point that the lawsuits would be successful, only in slowing us down,” Petra said. “We had unanimous approval on every part of the process and every procedure throughout the city.”
PMC’s New Haven leasing office did not respond to requests for comment on the lawsuits Tuesday evening.
Petra now aims to begin construction by next summer.
Stamford-based Spinnaker Residential, which will be next door to Petra, will build a 200-plus-unit complex consisting of apartments, shops and office buildings, in place of the old Comcast building. Combined, the two projects near State Street Station will be worth roughly $100 million, Petra said.
These projects will also bring commerce and foot traffic to the blocks between downtown and Wooster Square — areas that have grown quieter with the departure of Comcast several years ago.
“What’s so exciting about these projects is that they are going to reactivate Chapel, Union and Olive streets and bring new neighbors and life into Wooster Square,” Wooster Square Alder Aaron Greenberg GRD ’18 said.
Each project will also pay at least $1 million in taxes per year to the city, though the exact figure is still under negotiation, Petra said.
For Wooster Square residents, the end of PMC’s lawsuits was a triumph, Bill Iovanne, who directs a Wooster Square neighborhood association, said. Iovanne said Petra and the developers at Spinnaker consulted with community members at meetings for several months to tweak their plans.
“It was something that fit into the neighborhood, by being aesthetically pleasing,” Iovanne said. “It was also mixed-use open space and something that the neighborhood could really use and benefit from.”
Wooster Square is named for the American Revolutionary War hero David Wooster.