A local developer plans to build a new five-story apartment complex — with one third of its 150 units at affordable rents — atop a city-owned grassy lot on the Dixwell/Science Park border.
That new housing project is detailed in a proposed Development and Land Disposition Agreement (DLDA) and accompanying tax abatement deal that the city’s Livable City Initiative (LCI) submitted to the Board of Alders in mid-September.
According to those documents, the city is looking to sell roughly 1.7 acres of publicly-owned land at 291 Ashmun St., 309 Ashmun St., and 178-186 Canal St. for $500,000 to RJDA Ashmun Street LLC.
The buyer is a holding company owned by the local firm RJ Development & Advisors LLC, a partnership between Yves-Georges Joseph II and Jason Rudnick.
The related tax abatement deal would have the developer make a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) to the city of $400 per year for each of the project’s 50 designated affordable units. That tax abatement deal would not affect how much the developer would have to pay in local property taxes for the remaining 100 units, which the city would assess and tax at market rates.
“We are excited to have negotiated a structured proposal for BOA approval that will bring development to a property that has laid dormant for many years and affords the City potentially more than 50 affordable units meeting three tiers of affordability for New Haven residents,” LCI Executive Director Serena Neal-Sanjurjo wrote to the alders in a Sept. 16 cover letter describing the proposed land deal.
Joseph told the Independent Monday afternoon that his company has been pursuing this project for several years, and won a request for proposal (RFP) put out by the city.
“All the aspects of the deal are still being discussed,” he said. “We’re excited to be at this point to be able to submit a proposal to the Board of Alders to build a project.”
The DLDA and tax agreement are listed as a joint communication on Monday night’s Board of Alders meeting agenda. It next advances to LCI’s Property Acquisition and Disposition Committee, LCI’s Board of Directors, and then to an aldermanic committee for different stages of review and discussion before returning to the full board for a final vote.
Click here to read the proposed DLDA, here to read the proposed tax agreement, and here to read a proposed project timeline, which would see construction begin in April 2022 and completed in March 2025.
Dixwell/Science Park Transformation Continues
The planned apartment complex represents just the latest major building project slated for an area of the city that was once home to tens of thousands of factory jobs through long-gone employers like Winchester Arms and Olin Corporation. Over the past two decades, the city, Yale University and various developers like Winstanley Enterprises have built up Science Park as an office and research hub occupied in large part by the university and other academic affiliates.
The former Winchester Arms plant is now luxury apartments. A long-vacant former Olin site at 201 Munson St. across the street is slated to become hundreds more largely luxury apartments.
Just a few blocks west, local investors and developers — including Joseph — are planning on converting the Dixwell Plaza shopping center at the heart of one of New Haven’s historically African American neighborhoods into roughly 150 new apartments, along with a new performing arts center, banquet hall, grocery store, museum, office complex, daycare center, retail storefronts.
And now comes yet another planned building project — this one slated for a fenced-in vacant lot bounded by Ashmun Street on the West, Canal Street on the east, and Henry Street on the north, and Gregory Street on the south.
The lot is right across the street from 201 Munson, and adjacent to the Farmington Canal and to 25 Science Park.
The proposed DLDA states that no fewer than 50 of the planned 150 new apartments “shall be restricted and provided at various levels of affordability, below prevailing market rate” for no less than 20 years after the completion of the project.
Twenty-five of those affordable units shall be restricted to renters earning 80 percent or less of the region’s area median income (AMI), 15 of those units for tenants earning 60 percent or less of the AMI, and 10 units for tenants with Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers.
It also states that the planned five-story, 150-unit complex shall consist of a mix of studios, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments.
“I think the entire city has gone through a renaissance of sorts over the last 10 years,” Joseph said. When he and Rudnick worked for a company called Centerplan, they developed the 160-unit luxury apartment complex at 200 College St. downtown. They also formerly owned and helped find a hotel developer for a vacant parcel on the Rt. 34 West superblock.
“The entire city has experienced a renaissance of investment,” he continued. “I think Dixwell/Newhallville has not necessarily seen as much, although there certainly has been some.”
As for this planned new apartment project, “We see it as just a natural extension of everything that is going on with the city.” And unlike some of those other more exclusively market-rate and luxury apartment developments, he said, this planned new project will be “mixed-income” thanks to the affordable set aside.