Thursday, April 24, 2008

Developers line up for Coliseum site project

By Mary E. O’Leary
Register Topics Editor
— The city has an array of Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts investment groups and architects to choose from as it begins the process of identifying a preferred developer for its most important tract of open land — the Veterans Memorial Coliseum site.
In answer to a request for qualifications, the city received six responses, with three of them a partnership of local architects and engineers who propose to work in tandem with out-of-state investors.
As it did with the entrepreneurs who were in the mix to develop the former Shartenberg site at Chapel and State streets, the Economic Development office will work with a small group of officials and interested parties to vet the applicants.
Generally, the city would like to see a dense development of housing, commercial and retail development on the 4.5-acre Coliseum site, which is bounded by South Orange Street, North Frontage Road, State Street and George Street.
Also part of the development is the Long Wharf Theatre, which plans to relocate from its original site at the food terminal on Sargent Drive. The theater has laid out some basic size requirements and its parking needs, while a fund-raising study found it is capable of bringing in the $35 million needed for the project.
The demolition of the Coliseum was completed in August 2007. The site is now a surface parking lot that will serve commuters and construction workers until other garages are built.
The teams the city is considering are:
‰Archstone (New York City), CA White, Charter Realty, Pelli Clarke Pell Architects, Diversified Technology Consultants
‰Related Companies LLP (New York City) and Robert Orr & Associates LLC (New Haven)
‰The Richman Group Development Corp. (Greenwich), McCormack Baron Salazar, Fusco, and Herbert S. Newman and Partners.
The single entities include: Heyman Properties LLC (Westport); Northland Investment Corp. (Newton, Mass.); and Avalon Bay Communities Inc. (Shelton).
Many of the names are well-known locally, including New Haven firms: CA White, Pelli Clarke Pell Architects, Fusco, Robert Orr & Associates and Herbert S. Newman and Partners, while Diversified Technology Consultants is located in North Haven.
All of them have been involved in Greater New Haven residential and institutional construction.
Joan Channick, managing director of Long Wharf Theatre, said they soon will put out a request for proposals for an architect so a designer for the new theater will be in place by the time the city chooses a developer.
Kelly Murphy, city economic development director, was pleased with the submissions.
“I’m very happy with the number of responses and the quality of the teams,” Murphy said, particularly in uncertain economic times. “I think it says a lot about New Haven.”
Murphy said it took about a year from the time Becker and Becker submitted its plans for the $160 million, 450-apartment building at the Shartenberg site to get through the approval process.
A construction fence now wraps around the site, and the developer is starting utility work and improvements to a delivery tunnel on the land.
Murphy said approvals for the Coliseum site are likely to take longer, since it is larger and more complicated with the inclusion of Long Wharf Theatre.

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