Vacant since March 2015, a former industrial space and artist co-op on Daggett Street could soon be converted into an apartment complex.
Last week, attorney Miguel Almodóvar and architect Robert Mangino proposed a plan to the New Haven Board of Zoning Appeals to construct 80 studio and one-bedroom apartments in the 10,000 square feet building at 69-75 Daggett St. The space had previously provided cheap, illegal housing for artists until inspectors discovered numerous code violations in an area not zoned for residential use, a city official said. If converted into apartments, the building could be popular with Yale New Haven Hospital and medical school staff, given its close proximity to the Yale School of Medicine.
“Some people put their nose up and call [the project] gentrification because it’s providing for a more well-to-do demographic, when the property owner is simply pursuing the best use of the investment he has,” said city spokesman Laurence Grotheer, who is not directly involved in the building conversion process.
Neighborhood residents, the Board of Alders, the city’s planning department and planning commission are involved in the project’s approval process, Grotheer said. The Livable City Initiative, an agency that looks to improve housing opportunities in the city, is also involved.
If the project is approved, the city can issue a building permit so the construction can begin, Grotheer added.
City officials said obtaining a residential parking permit is a point of contention for the proposed project. Residents have opposed increased parking spaces for some time, and may feel overrun by the prospect of additional YNHH staff moving into the neighborhood, a city official said.
However, New Haven’s Deputy Director of Zoning Tom Talbot said planners are working on regulations to reduce the limit of one parking space per residential dwelling unit to one half-space. A proposal has been submitted to the Board of Alders but is still pending approval.
According to Talbot, this change might be possible given that the Daggett Street building is located close to YNHH and many residents will likely have access to public transportation options.
“It’s about need,” Talbot said. “We don’t want people to have to devote portions of their property to parking if they don’t need it.”
The project falls in line with the approved change to New Haven’s zoning regulations by the Board of Alders earlier this year, which allows for conversion of existing buildings in light industrial districts to be converted into residences, Talbot said.
Despite the project’s intent to foster city growth, many residents are concerned about change in the neighborhood. The area will be more tightly regulated with the new apartment structure, and many are concerned about the loss of the artist community.
“People who will miss that sort of bohemian flavor [of the artist co-op] are going to complain that now [the building is] going to be apartments for people who can afford more expensive rents,” Grotheer said.
New Haven law firm Jacobs & Rozich, which was involved in the Daggett Street building conversion proposal, declined to comment because the proposal is currently being reviewed.
The building on Daggett Street was initially a rubber factory and integrated into the Baumann Rubber Company in 1891.