Yale Daily News

New Haven will soon have an additional $5.3 million to improve the lower side of State Street in Downtown and Wooster Square.  

With this new funding, which the city received through the newly announced $74 million Connecticut Communities Challenge Program, New Haven will redevelop several currently underused parking lots and create 450 new residential units alongside 800,000 square feet of retail space. 

“This multimillion-dollar investment is a game-changer for lower State Street in the Downtown and Wooster Square neighborhoods,” Mayor Justin Elicker said at a press conference on Tuesday. “The City is grateful to Governor Lamont and Commissioner Lehman for their ongoing support of New Haven … and the community that came together to develop the Wooster Square Planning Study, which recommended new growth on these very underused parking lots.”

According to the Mayor’s office, the Connecticut Communities Challenge Grant Program was created last year by Governor Ned Lamont to fund a wide array of revitalization projects meant to improve the liveability and vibrancy of communities throughout the state, with the goal of creating approximately 3,000 new jobs. Lamont announced last week that 12 cities — including New Haven — would be awarded a total of $45 million.

The city plans on using the grant money to redevelop several currently underused parking lots on State Street and convert them into 650,000 square feet of developed space to further improve the livability of this area of New Haven. 

The New Haven Parking Authority, or NHPA, has also welcomed the state’s investment. The planned redesign would support even more commuters utilizing State Street Station, which sits in the middle of the planned project area and provides thousands of rail and transit connections to jobs all over Connecticut. 

“With a few adjustments to the flow of traffic on State Street, this part of New Haven has the potential to be redeveloped into a bustling neighborhood that is active with retail space in a walkable community with lots of new housing,” Lamont said. “I am glad the state can partner with the city and Mayor Elicker to help this proposed project become a reality.”

New Haven plans on working with existing stakeholders along the eight-block State Street stretch, including the Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen and Liberty Safe Haven, to allow for inclusive growth that boosts their revenue and sales. 

Department of Economic and Community Development Deputy Commissioner Alexandra Daum said at a Tuesday press conference that the State Street project demonstrated how public-private partnerships are the main drivers of local economic development. 

Funds for the lower State Street redesign has long been a priority of Ward 7 Alder Eli Sabin and the Board of Alders. 

“I am very grateful to our state partners for providing the funding we need to make it a reality,” Sabin said. “This project will help us achieve the goals of our Downtown for All plan of building affordable housing, creating good jobs, bringing in tax revenue, improving public safety, and reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.” 

The city of New Haven was founded in 1637. 

Yash Roy covered City Hall and State Politics for the News. He also served as a Production & Design editor, and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion chair for the News. Originally from Princeton, New Jersey, he is a '25 in Timothy Dwight College majoring in Global Affairs.