DOWNTOWN CROSSING: CITY ANNOUNCES NEXT STEPS IN MAKING THE VISION A REALITY
(4/20/2009) Reconnecting streets, creating jobs and developing a new tax base in the area of the current Route 34 East Connector
NEW HAVEN- Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. led a news conference alongside Representative Rosa DeLauro; Dr. Robert Alpern, Dean of the Yale University School of Medicine; Carter Winstanley, Partner, Winstanley Enterprises; Bruce Alexander, Vice President, New Haven & State Affairs, Yale University; representatives of Yale New Haven Hospital and other partners in the City’s efforts to reconnect neighborhoods, create jobs and build a new tax base in the “Downtown Crossing” area linking downtown with Union Station.
Describing the vision of the Downtown Crossing project, DeStefano spoke about creating communities of the 21st century. New Haven is the epitome of the Live/Work community. Such communities are created by having mixed-use developments of office, retail, housing and recreation with vibrant, walkable streets, sustainable neighborhoods linked to excellent transit assets such as train stations and bus networks.
Abandoning the Route 34 East highway and creating an urban boulevard in its place, will enable New Haven to “create” ten new acres of land in a fully built out city. This will allow for the creation of 3,216 construction jobs and 1,195 permanent jobs, jobs for all skill and education levels. This in turn will create a financial infusion into the regional economy.
South of the highway is the natural expansion area for the Medical District – home to world renown Yale New Haven Hospital and Yale University Medical School. By designing a rational street grid and creating developable parcels under street smart principals will give this economic sector of our economy room to grow towards Union Station, the second largest transportation hub in New England. This will create another 2,663 construction jobs and 919 permanent jobs infusing significant additional economic activity into the regional economy.
DeStefano referenced the need to re-connect neighborhoods that were torn apart when the car was the dominate force behind land use decisions, creating wasted space in the heart of the City. “By reconnecting the street grid, developing space for new businesses, labs, housing, restaurants, cultural attractions, parks and so much more, we will be growing our tax base, reducing the tax burden on our residents and most importantly, creating thousands of new permanent jobs at all skill levels,” said DeStefano.
“Despite the current challenges of the national economy, the medical school continues to provide opportunities for job growth and investment because the two primary components of the medical school’s operating budget — sponsored research and clinical collections remain strong,” stated Dr. Alpern. “The Medical School also has been able to maintain and even grow donations these last few years and has at the same time been very successful in its grant writing and securing funding from the National Institutes of Health.”
“New Haven is positioned to become Connecticut’s job creation capital,” said DeStefano. “With more than $1 billion worth of construction underway or recently completed and $237 million in new projects scheduled to begin later this year, all in the middle of one of the worst economic climates this nation has experienced, there’s no limit to the great things we can build and achieve.”
A private sector project will jump start this effort. Winstanley Enterprises proposes to build 250,000-300,000 square feet of new office and lab space on the area between the Air Rights Garage to College Street in the Route 34 East right-of-way. This new building will be a sister building to Winstanley’s 300 George Street project, strategically located next to Medical School and the new Smilow Cancer Research Hospital.
Over the last ten years, New Haven has amassed a bio-tech industry cluster that has “exceeded our expectations and justifies a new major investment,” said Carter Winstanley. He went on to say that he found a partner in the City of New Haven and DeStefano in working to assist companies like his to find new sites to take advantage of this growing industry cluster. Winstanley is a major property owner in the City with more than 1 million square feet in ownership within Downtown and in Science Park.
DeStefano thanked DeLauro for her support in securing $5 million to launch the Downtown Crossing project and said that it was clear that DeLauro recognizes the importance of making strategic investments today for large economic benefits in the future. This funding will allow the City to initiate initial design and planning for the Downtown Crossing project.
"With the Route 34 redevelopment project we have a powerful opportunity to make this plot something more - to reconnect neighborhoods, provide homeownership opportunities, support recreation, and invest in sustainable design and traffic calming," said DeLauro. "To help make it possible, I was proud to secure $5 million in SAFETEA-LU, the 2005 Transportation Reauthorization bill, and $475,000 from the 2009 Appropriations Bill that will help leverage millions more in state and local as well as private investment, ultimately generating significant, positive growth for the city. This project is about new life for an old piece of land where planners once thought they would build a highway; a new opportunity for the City of New Haven and its residents; and new jobs for our workforce and new growth for the entire region."
Recently, the City working with the State Department of Transportation selected Parsons Brinkerhoff (PB) as the lead consultant to work with the City on this project. “Parsons put together a highly qualified team of traffic and civil engineers, urban designers and financial feasibility experts that will be needed to move this project forward collaboratively with our governmental partners at the State including the Departments of Transportation and Economic and Community Development,” said Kelly Murphy, Economic Development Administrator.
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