After facing delays over the summer, the project to transform the Hall of Graduate Studies from graduate student housing to a new humanities center is back on track to receive approval from City Hall.
The city’s Board of Alders voted on Monday evening to allow the conversion of HGS without requiring an amendment to Yale’s overall parking plan, which sets guidelines for the parking spaces built on University property. The request for unanimous consent failed to pass at an Aug. 7 Board of Alders meeting, when Ward 8 Alder and Local 33 Chair Aaron Greenberg GRD ’18 voted against it, bringing the proposed timeline for construction and opening into question.
The HGS renovation was announced in January 2016 after the University received a $50 million gift from an anonymous donor, which was in addition to a March 2015 gift of $25 million from Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin ’78. Yale aims to have the center completed by July 2020.
“Obviously, it’s good news [that] it’s moving forward,” said Lauren Zucker, associate vice president for New Haven Affairs and University Properties. “It’s obviously subject to City Planning Commission, but if that goes favorably [on Tuesday night] we’ll be able to get started soon.”
Greenberg was initially concerned that the conversion, which would include a 100-seat screening room and a 300-seat lecture hall, would require more parking spaces than the University’s parking plan originally allotted.
But after submitting questions to the University about the center’s potential impact on traffic and parking, he said he is confident the project does not require additional parking.
“The University has made a very good case … and I feel very happy with the project going ahead,” Greenberg said.
The City Plan Commission will have the option to untable and hear the plan Tuesday night.
Jonathan Wharton, one of the appointed members to New Haven’s City Plan Commission, said that he usually listens to the recommendations of the City Plan Commission’s staff and votes accordingly. When the HGS project eventually comes up at one of the commission’s monthly meetings, Wharton would likely follow that precedent, he said.
Part of the project will include the renaming of the HGS tower after David Swensen, Yale’s chief investment officer.
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