In the newest development of City Hall’s plan to connect the Hill neighborhood to Downtown, a mixed-use building is set to begin construction just two blocks southeast of the Yale School of Medicine after years of deliberations.
RMS Companies received unanimous approval from the City Plan Commission last Thursday regarding the real estate developer’s plan to build a 110-unit complex on the block between Cedar and Gold streets. Construction is expected to begin in June, following the demolition of the vacant Prince School Annex that currently occupies the lot. RMS founder Randy Salvatore, who also led the construction of The Novella, an apartment complex at 1245 Chapel St., aims to have the project completed within a year of breaking ground.
“I am grateful to see something like this,” said Commissioner Jonathan Wharton, who researches politics and economic development at Southern Connecticut State University. “Anybody who knows the research I do, this is exactly the kind of thing I study in so many cities, and this is awesome. This is better, bigger than I ever thought. It’s awesome seeing mixed-used development and workforce housing.”
Once finished, the building will stand four stories high with ground-level retail space. The apartment complex will include 90 one-bedroom units, 16 two-bedroom units and four three-bedroom units.
According to Carolyn Kone, an attorney for RMS, 33 of the 110 apartments will be set aside for affordable housing. And if RMS receives approval from the City Plan Commission next month for the conversion of Welch Annex School — which is just across the street from the recently approved complex — into housing, the 30 units in that building could also all be affordable, Kone said.
The 110-unit development is part of the city’s plan to aid in the development of the Hill neighborhood, which included the construction of 100 College St., home of Alexion Pharmaceuticals’ world headquarters, and future plans to build hundreds of housing units and dozens of retail sites at the old site of the New Haven Coliseum.
“This project itself is opening up a whole area for improvement,” said Edward Mattison LAW ’68, chair of the City Plan Commission. “It’s very exciting.”
City Hall is not subsidizing the construction of the building. In past interviews with the News, New Haven Economic Development Administrator Matthew Nemerson SOM ’81 said many Elm City housing projects, such as the mixed-use apartment complex Audubon Square and the 110-unit project, no longer need city aid. Rather, these developments are feasible at market rates because of New Haven’s increasing desirability to millennials and other professionals.
Amistad Park, which is owned by Yale, will be right in the backyard of the new complex. During Thursday’s meeting, Wharton expressed his desire to keep the park maintained and publicly accessible.
“One would hope that Yale would be a good partner with this. And that would be my hope,” Wharton said. “I know how the university can be, especially as a professor. I would hope they would play nice with the developer and vice versa.”
At the meeting, Kone ensured the committee that RMS and the University have a positive relationship, which she believes will continue.
Welch Annex School, which RMS plans to convert into affordable housing, closed in 2007.