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    New Haven, CT) - - Building on existing strengths of the Mill River District, the City of New Haven today released their plan to help revitalize the area as a destination hub for light industry, home improvement, and food businesses. The findings of the Mill River Planning Study were celebrated Wednesday at a press conference at the newly redeveloped 26 Mill Street in the heart of the Mill River district.

    The Mill River Planning Report is the result of a thorough analysis of the ongoing successes and future opportunities in the area and was worked on by City economic development staff in consultation with experts in the field of industrial redevelopment. Building on the Mill River Phase 1 Planning and Redevelopment Framework, the final report identifies three primary development strategies that build off existing strengths of the area for job retention, job creation and economic growth. Those include:

    • An Industrial Village promoting light industry and live-work spaces;

    • A Home Improvement Marketplace that capitalizes on the multitude of home products already available in the district to create a shopping district competitive with suburban big box stores; and

    • And Mercantile Food Hub to grow the robust food manufacturing and distribution sector in the area, which currently ships products across the county.

    The final report makes recommendations in the areas including streetscape improvements, zoning, temporary uses, waterfront planning, wayfinding, branding and a capital investment strategy.

    The project team considered actions and policies that could support redevelopment and job creation in both the short and long terms. It includes a comprehensive urban framework, a catalogue of smaller scale “test fits” based on a suite of building prototypes developed for the Mill River District, a set of long-range strategies for the Mill River’s waterfront, and a clearly-defined set of mechanisms for implementation.

    Roughly bounded by I-91 to the north, I-95 to the south, and the residential neighborhoods of Fair Haven to the east and Wooster Square to the west, the Mill River District is a 206-acre urban light-industrial area along the Mill River in the heart of New Haven. It contains many successful businesses attracted by the district’s reasonable rents and strategic location.

    “Historically, Mill River has been home to businesses engaged in food processing and distribution, precision manufacturing, design and construction support and specialty building supplies fabrication. These companies currently employ approximately 3,000 people, many of them New Haven residents,” said Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. “The district is a prime example of the diversity of New Haven’s economic base and the breadth of quality local jobs created by those businesses. That diversity is vital to maintaining a healthy economy and providing good jobs for all residents.”

    Officials estimate that approximately one-quarter of the land area is now vacant or underutilized. By engaging in this planning process, the City has encouraged the cleanup and redevelopment of brownfield sites, bringing jobs back into New Haven and reducing urban sprawl.

    Mill River Planning Study has been is part of a multi-phase planning and redevelopment effort to bring new businesses into underutilized parcels, creating additional jobs and adding to the City’s economic base. Project partners include the City’s Office of Economic Development, Economic Development Corporation of New Haven; Ninigret Partners, an economic development consultancy; Utile, architecture, urban design and planning firm; Stoss a landscape architecture firm and Nelson/Nygaard, a transportation planning firm. In addition, many existing Mill River businesses, community organizations, residents and religious institutions have been actively involved in this effort.

    “Mill River provides an enormous opportunity to generate economic growth and new jobs while reinforcing environmental sustainability, with both a local and regional impact. Already, some of that potential is being realized by the many successful businesses operating there. The clean up and rehabilitation of this building at 26 Mill Street, and the partnership between the public and private sectors to revitalize long vacant buildings, bringing them back to productive use,” said Kelly Murphy, the City of New Haven’s Economic Development Administrator. “There remains a significant opportunity to extend and expand the Mill River Industrial District, creating a sustainable model of urban development, bringing in new businesses and more jobs.”

    From today, the City and EDC have convened a team of planners, economic analysts, and zoning attorneys to develop new zoning that will support the industrial businesses of the 21st century and promote environmental conditions that will allow the Mill River District to continue to thrive and grow into a fully connected part of New Haven’s urban fabric.

    Public meetings have been regularly held to obtain a broad cross-section of community input and plans include holding additional meetings as the team embarks on implementation of the plan.

    For more information on the Mill River Study, go to http://www.cityofnewhaven.com/EconomicDevelopment/Projects.


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