Now that more than 700 students occupy the new residential colleges, it is only a matter of time before more retail shops pop up and development progresses in the area.
When Benjamin Franklin and Pauli Murray colleges opened this fall, the University further established its presence in the Dixwell neighborhood, where the Yale Health Center and the Yale Police Department are also located. Though the major projects in the area are now completed, students will likely see new retail open on neighboring streets and housing prices rise in the coming years, according to Mark Abraham ’04, executive director of the nonprofit DataHaven, which collects and interprets data for New Haven and other Connecticut cities.
“With the increased density and improvements to urban design, especially the walking paths that crisscross the area, I think it’s pretty transformative to that section of the city,” Abraham said.
Despite the area’s increased population, no brick-and-mortar eateries have yet to open directly around the new colleges. Food carts and trucks operate in the Sachem Street Special Vending District during weekday lunch hours, but students have to travel to Whitney Avenue, Broadway, or another downtown street for off-campus meals during evening hours and on weekends.
Yale potentially plans to open a convenience store like Durfee’s Sweet Shoppe and develop a retail strip on Ashmun Street in the future, Head of Pauli Murray College Tina Lu said earlier this year. In the meantime, students will likely flock to the businesses on Whitney Avenue, Abraham said, given that they’re closest to the new colleges.
Audubon Square, a mixed-use complex that will eventually hold more than 500 apartment units, is slated to open in the coming years just a block away from Whitney Avenue. That, in combination with the new colleges and other real estate projects, should continue to drum up sales for Whitney Avenue retailers and increase their business’s value, Abraham said.
Adil Chokairy, who owns Whitney Avenue restaurants Au Chalet and Crêpes Choupette, said the new colleges may naturally benefit his two restaurants. He expressed even greater optimism not just for the new colleges, but for Yale’s all of efforts to develop in the city, and the boon that development has for his businesses.
“I’m very, really, really genuinely thankful to Yale University,” Chokairy said. “You want to be in a town where someone else is thinking about the city, as that in itself is admirable.”
Soon, however, students may be able to grab off-campus food closer to the colleges. In addition to the retail University Properties is planning, Abraham said he could envision the area near the colleges giving rise to a mixed-use complex to include retail and housing. Trailside cafes along the Farmington Canal are another possibility, he added, referencing a potential parallel to the shops that border the biking trail’s Northampton, Massachusetts, stretch.
Over the past decade, property values and rents have increased on Mansfield Street, Winchester Avenue and other streets near the new residential colleges, Abraham said. During that time, the University has purchased roughly half of the Mansfield Street properties and more Yale affiliates, namely graduate students, have been occupying the area.
In a bustling New Haven real estate market, Abraham said the future rise of housing costs in the area surrounding the colleges is not strongly associated with the new residential colleges specifically. Rather, prices are more deeply connected to New Haven’s general economic landscape and will probably increase just like almost all housing near and in downtown.
And for those residents and workers in the area, the new colleges make the community safer, with more pedestrians and eyes on the street.
“The effect of having a lot of people on their feet, moving here and there, is generally a positive thing for public safety,” said Anstress Farwell GRD ’78, president of the New Haven Urban Design League.
The lot now occupied by Franklin and Murray colleges was previously occupied by Hammond Hall and Seeley G. Mudd Library.
Contact Myles Odermann at email@example.com .