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Monday, February 18, 2008

Developer to discuss Newhallville ideas

By Mary E. O’Leary
Register Topics Editor
NEW HAVEN
— Bringing new residential and commercial growth to Newhallville is the aim of a national developer who will talk about his ideas this month with residents in that neighborhood and the adjacent Dixwell neighborhood.
Building on improvements by Yale University in the area, the Science Park Development Corp. has picked Forest City Enterprises of Cleveland to work up a deal on turning an empty three-story building that was part of the Winchester gun factory into a mixed-use development.
David Silverstone, chairman of the development corporation, said personnel from Forest City already have visited New Haven to determine the extent of work necessary to bring the shuttered site back to life.
The board chose Forest City some time ago, but has been low-key about it, Silverstone said, as the developer slowly works up some plans and deals with serious environmental issues.
“We have a lot of hard work yet to be done,” Silverstone said, who was optimistic but cautious, given numerous plans that have been floated in the past 20 years to resurrect the Winchester site.
Forest City is a $10 billion real estate company that has experience in adaptive re-use of historic sites, with 2,172 units of housing at 10 such properties across the country, according to its Web site.
Silverstone said they would attempt to work out an agreement with Forest City over the next six months.
“Forest City has completed quality projects,” said New Haven Economic Development Administrator Kelly Murphy, who is also a member of the Science Park board of directors.
“It’s a great use for an old property,” Murphy said of combining retail and residential space. “Coupled with Yale’s expansion, the plans are going in the same direction.”
The 700,000-square-foot property is bound by Winchester Avenue, Munson and Mansfield streets. Yale has brought back numerous properties on Munson, while its latest expansion is moving up Science Hill and into Dixwell at Canal Street.
“It could make a huge difference in terms of the entire surrounding area,” said William Ginsberg, executive director of the Community Foundation of Greater New Haven.
Ginsberg has a special interest in Science Park, since he spent six years of his varied career there as president of the corporation from 1988 to 1994.
“It’s turning into what was envisioned,” all those years ago when Science Park was opened as an incubator for start-up businesses and it was hoped development would spill into the neighborhoods.
The Dixwell Management Team will hear from Forest City Thursday, while opinions from Newhallville will be solicited at its management team meeting Feb. 26.
Mary E. O’Leary can be reached at 789-5731 or moleary@nhregister.com.

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