Tuesday, June 17, 2008

City narrows developer list

By Mary E. O’Leary
Register Topics Editor
— The field of developers the city is looking at for the former New Haven Coliseum site in Ninth Square has been narrowed from six to four, with a recommendation on the best candidate expected by the end of summer.
The update was mentioned at a meeting of the Development Commission Monday night, which several times a year holds an evening session to give a status report on Gateway Community College, which will be built along Church Street, and on the plans for Ninth Square.
Several months ago, the city put out a request for qualifications for developers interested in building on the 4½-acre Coliseum site — prime developable land bound by Orange, State and George streets and North Frontage Road.
The city is not vetting a specific plan, only which developer has the best financing and track record to be chosen for this important downtown project.
The Related Companies, which was partnered with local architect Robert Orr, dropped out early, while the committee reviewing qualifications decided not to interview Avalon Bay because its proposal centered mainly on housing, with very little retail.
Generally, the city would like to see a dense development of housing and retail on the site, which is just off Interstate 91 at the entrance to downtown and only blocks from Union Station. Also part of the development is Long Wharf Theatre, which plans to move from its original site at the New Haven Food Terminal on Sargent Drive.
Still in the running are:
‰Archstone, which is partnering with C.A. White, Charter Realty & Development, Pelli Clarke Pelli architects and DTC, for a mixed-use plan with a hotel.
‰Heyman Properties, which is proposing construction of a Marriott hotel above the theater.
‰Northland of Boston, which would partner with architect Robert Stern, and shows a mix of rental units and condos, the theater, an office and parking.
‰The Richman Group of Companies, partnering with McCormack Baron, Fusco Construction and Herbert S. Newman & Partners for the theater, retail, apartments, meeting space and parking.
The committee vetting the developers includes officials from the city planning and economic development offices, as well as Anthony Rescigno, Jorge Lopes, Jonathan Koppel, Maricel Valcarcel, Don McGregor, Joan Channick and Alderwoman Frances "Bitsey" Clark, D-7.
At the meeting, Clark continued to emphasize her concerns with the design of a 600-car garage for Gateway Community College, which will be built with an entrance and exit on Crown Street.
She said the traffic on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights would be "horrendous" on Crown Street as students leave classes and nightclub patrons head downtown.
Deputy Economic Development Director Tony Bialecki said the New Haven Parking Authority can help the situation by controlling where traffic can exit and enter at the nearby Temple Street Garage and with new signals at major intersections in the area. Bialecki also reported that Perkins and Will, the architect for the college, which is scheduled to open in fall 2012, is still considering the city’s design suggestions on making a bridge over George Street more transparent.
Mary E. O’Leary can be reached at 789-5731 or moleary@nhregister.com.

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