West Haven getting ready to close Water Street, 3 others to secure area for The Haven
The city is getting ready to close Water Street and one-block stretches of three cross streets between Water Street and First Avenue to secure the future site of The Haven upscale outlet mall in the face of recurring vandalism and dumping, officials said.
Also to be closed are the one-block stretches of Center, Richard and Main streets that run within The Haven site, between First Avenue and Water Street. The Haven site, which so far has seen just two properties demolished, runs roughly between the West River and First Avenue from Elm Street to Main Street.
The move to close the street, hastened by recent illegal dumping and vandalism to vacant structures within the stretch of properties developer The Haven Group, LLC has acquired for the development, comes even before The Haven project gets all of its local approvals.
The Haven’s site plan approval and related issues are expected to go before the Planning & Zoning Commission early in 2018.
The Board of Police Commissioners got the ball rolling on the street closures Tuesday night, voting unanimously to accept the idea in concept and forward it to other city agencies for study and comment.
That will take some time, so nothing will happen immediately, said police board Chairman Raymond Collins III.
“It is not closing tomorrow,” Collins said.
Louis Esposito Jr., executive assistant to Mayor Nancy Rossi, said the next step is for the developer to meet with the Police Department’s Traffic Division, “and then they’ll notify the public.”
While City Council approval is necessary to formally abandon a street, “they’re not abandoning it at this point,” Esposito said. “They’re closing it to prevent the vandalism and the vagrancy that has been occurring over there.”
“This is a temporary closure,” said Commissioner of Development Joseph Riccio Jr. “The purpose is to stop the trash dumping and vagrancy, and there’s been some reports of illegal activity down there.”
Additional steps beyond occasional police patrols are necessary “because most of the properties are now vacant and it’s wintertime and its chewing up city resources,” Riccio said.
While Corporation Counsel Vin Amendola said he’s still researching what’s necessary in order to close the streets, Riccio said, “It doesn’t have to go to zoning because it’s temporary” and “it’s different from when the street is to be abandoned.”
The actual, permanent abandonment “will have to go to zoning,” he said.
The Haven Group Executive Vice President Matt Armstrong has told the City Council that The Haven, which is expected to go before the Planning and Zoning Commission for its zoning approvals this winter, will be the only direct-waterfront, luxury retail center in the country, with 60 stores, seven restaurants, a public waterfront promenade.
It would pay $2 million in annual property tax and create more than $15 million in incremental sales tax for the state, he said.
The Haven would provide 800 full-time and 400 part-time jobs, plus 800 construction jobs using all Connecticut-based contractors, he said.
Developers Sheldon Gordon, who has since passed away, and Ty Miller proposed to build the waterfront development project in two phases. Miller is proceeding with the project despite Gordon’s death, Miller and city officials have said.
The first phase, proposed for an area along what is now Water Street south of Elm Street where the mouth of the West River widens into New Haven Harbor, would be 230,000-250,000 square feet with a waterfront promenade, open-air amphiteatre and boat-launch ramp for non-motorized watercraft.
Riccio said he expects The Haven to come before the PZC in January and February, with a zoning regulations text change to include several properties along First Avenue, currently zoned residential, in the waterfront development zone likely to be on the Jan. 9 agenda.
The Haven’s application for site plan approval is likely to come before the commission on either Jan. 23 or Feb. 13, Riccio said.