Over the summer, Yale increased its real estate holdings on the corner of Chapel and York Streets with a purchase of two residential-commercial properties on York.
In total, the purchase of the adjacent townhouses at 168-170 York St. amounted to $2.85 million. The buildings, which had been owned by Mary Tirozzi and Joseph Goodwin through a company called Hot Dog of New Haven, LLC, are historically significant. Currently, each townhouse is three stories tall and has five living units. The properties also include two local businesses: Salon J, a full service salon, and 168 York Street Cafe, one of Connecticut’s oldest gay bars. The recent purchase adds to the University’s portfolio of commercial and academic properties on the corner and in the Chapel West section of Downtown New Haven.
“Joe and I owned the building for 27 years, and I wanted to take our money off of the table,” Tirozzi told the News in an interview. “It was just time to sell. After 27 years of being a landlord, you’re done. Yale approached us so we struck a deal.”
The townhouses, which are a part of the same building, were built around 1870 and are contributing properties to the Chapel Street Historic District. The National Register of Historic Places’ documentation for the address notes that the single building is six bays wide and that one entrance to the building was altered in the 20th century.
According to city assessors’ office records, the combined appraised value of both properties is $809,600 with 170 coming in at $427,100 and 168 at $382,500. Those evaluations of the properties have not changed since at least 2016, according to the city records.
Goodwin and Tirozzi, both real estate agents, bought the building for $475,000 in November of 1993. Already friends, Goodwin and Tirozzi knew the then-owner of the building, Jimmy Bombard, and happened to be in the “right place at the right time,” she said.
Bombard was also the founder of The Pub Cafe, the forerunner to 168 York Street Cafe that opened in 1976 and was originally located where Book Trader Cafe now stands. The Pub, as it was called, moved around the corner to 168 York after a fire in 1978. It replaced a biker bar known as Inside Out at the address.
In 1993, Bombard wanted to leave the area and Goodwin, who had been working at The Pub since 1985, stepped up to buy the building with Tirozzi, she said. The renamed 168 York Street Cafe opened on Christmas Day of that year and was nicknamed “The Gay Cheers.”
The cafe is now known for its laid-back atmosphere and theme nights, including the annual Dragapalooza. Last year, the fundraiser collected over $3,000 for local youth projects.
Next door, and celebrating its tenth year in business at the address, is Salon J, where a team of ten runs a salon for men and women. The owner, Jennifer Patton, opened the business in March of 2010, according to the salon’s website. In addition to cuts, coloring, extensions and waxing, the salon also offers bridal services. Patton could not be reached for comment on this article.
Both businesses are open under state coronavirus protocols.
Goodwin and Tirozzi were looking to sell the townhouses and knew that Yale would be interested in the properties because they are “right on campus,” Tirozzi said. The coronavirus pandemic did not play into the decision to sell as Yale and the owners had already been negotiating prior to the virus’ arrival.
“When I bought the building all of my intention was that my retirement would be the sale of my building,” Goodwin said. “I knew, having grown up in New Haven, that the only one who would give me what I was looking for at the time would be the University.”
Goodwin and Tirozzi rented the apartment units to many Yale students and staff over the years. Tirozzi said that she would miss meeting people from all over the world.
With the purchase, Yale now owns properties located on York St 142 York, 146 York, 148 York, 150 York, 166 York, 168 York, 170 York, 1126 Chapel, 1142 Chapel and 1156 Chapel. The only properties on the corner of Chapel and York that Yale does not own are 1144 Chapel, which houses Hull’s Art Supply, and 1155 Chapel, the home of Anaya Sushi & Ramen and The Workshop Salon.
Besides the purchase of 168-170 York Street, other recent purchases include 1142 Chapel and 166 York in a $3.8 million deal with a holding company owned by Pike International’s Shmully Hecht in June 2019.
166 York is a three-story townhouse similar to the one next door and hosts York Street Noodle House.
1142 Chapel, on the other hand, was torn down by Yale after an Oct. 2019 demolition order from city Building Official Jim Turcio. It now sits empty as a grassy lot. At a Historic District Commission meeting in December, Yale representatives said they did not have any specific plans for that address. Yale paid $14,090.62 in taxes on that property for Fiscal Year 2019-20.
“The property will currently continue to operate as is and remain on the tax rolls,” Director of University Media Relations Karen Peart told the News in an email.
For the 2020-2021 fiscal year, the combined tax bill for 168-170 York totaled $25,995.46.
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Correction, Sept. 10: A previous version of this article said the combined tax bill for 168-170 York totaled $25,995,46. This was a typographical error. In fact, it was $25,995.46.