Sammy Westfall

Yale presented its plans for the Tsai Center for Innovation at Yale at the City Plan Commission’s first meeting of 2018 on Wednesday night.

The commission reviewed eight site plan petitions, including a proposal by the University to construct an above-ground addition to the existing Becton Center on 21 Prospect St. — part of the Tsai CITY, a new project that was announced in May 2017 as a new “hub of creative activity” at Yale. The commission also considered the conversion of an existing nursing home building to 49 units.

Lauren Zucker, associate vice president and director of New Haven Affairs at Yale and Director of University Properties, presented the plans, outlining its main features and addressed concerns such as continued accessibility to the site. Commissioners asked the presenting team about a ramp for accessibility, which the team pointed out would be installed at the back of the building.

The site plan was approved by the commission, and the next presenter took control of the room.

“It went relatively simply,” Zucker told the News following the successful review.

Zucker noted that the entire planning team worked with engineers to make sure that they met all of the requirements, meaning plans took place long before the meeting.

While presenting, Zucker was also joined by Yale Director of Planning Kari Nordstrom ARC ’80.

“We are very proactive in going to the community,” Nordstrom said. “This time we started proactively, very early, even though we going into construction in the summer.”

Zucker said the team initially had to talk to the local management team to seek support, in order to get the community engaged and develop an understanding of what changes the University was planning to make. Any issues that arise during those preliminary conversations can be addressed before presenting to the city plan commissioners, she said.

“The University, just like any other person who is looking to do a project in New Haven, needs to go through the City Planning Commission process to seek approvals for projects, to make sure that they meet certain requirements,” she said.

The early timing of Yale’s presentation also ensures that the team has time to address any “hiccups” that may come up during the planning process, Zucker added.

“You don’t always get through the first time around,” she said.

At the meeting, anticipating a question from Ward 25 Alder Adam Marchand GRD ’99 about bikes and bike racks, Nordstrom addressed the bicycle parking station that would be constructed near 21 Prospect St.

“I know that one of the alders bicycles to work, like I do. And in the previous project he asked about bikes, so when we presented I quickly preempted him,” Nordstrom said.

The next City Plan Commission meeting will take place on Feb. 21.

Sammy Westfall |