Check out the following spin, which fails to mention idea of buildings atop subterranean freeway:
New Haven Hospital Projects May Heal City’s Route 34 Rift
Commercial Record (Boston), May 16, 2008, By Jeff Haynes, Reporter
The so-called connector route was anything but. After decades of division created by New Haven’s Route 34, efforts to start punching through pedestrian links between downtown and the Yale-New Haven Hospital are coming. Two mixed-use developments ready to break ground have the city’s residents, planners and real estate professionals waiting to see if the trend will move westward, bridging the gap the connector route filled with heavy traffic and vacant land.
Separated by a block, the two developments along Route 34 will serve the hospital in different ways. The $40 million Park Street building, with its groundbreaking scheduled for May 27, is designed to provide laboratory and support space to the hospital. A little farther west, Boston-based Intercontinental Real Estate Corp. is slated to break ground in September for a mixed-use project that will include an 845-unit parking garage for the hospital.
But it’s the other functions of those sites that have everyone watching.
“Urbanistically, [the Park Street building] is a linking piece,” said Barry Svigals, of New Haven architectural firm Svigals & Partners. His firm and Behnisch Architects of California designed the building. The structure is intended to connect pedestrians to the Air Rights garage, the street, and Yale-New Haven’s $470 million Smilow Cancer Hospital, now under construction.
To help draw in people, the Park Street space includes retail – “things that will involve activating the street,” Svigals said. “There is an atrium – a public atrium – that people will be able to walk through and go to the shops down in the lower level.”
The Intercontinental project plans include 57,000 square feet of office space, 15,560 square feet of ground-floor retail and 29 residential housing units in a “wrap” structure around the garage. The housing component is something residents on both sides of Route 34 have been seeking in hopes that new housing will help recreate neighborhood ties severed long ago by the highway.
Getting the housing units included in the plan took some negotiating, however, as the hospital’s original proposal for the site was a 1,400-car garage.
“So while 29 units may sound like a small number of residential units for a whole city block, we’re very pleased that we were able to convince the hospital to reduce the size of the garage to 845 [spaces] and include these other uses on the block,” said Karyn Gilvarg, executive director of city’s planning department. “We think they are key to healing this gap between the neighborhood that has been there for 40 years.”
The mixed-use style is consistent with redevelopment plans for the area drawn up two years ago, in part by Svigals and Maura Cochran, chairwoman and chief executive officer of Hartford-based Bartram & Cochran, which specializes in adaptive reuse of functionally obsolete properties.
“Part of the plan was to take the area closest to [the hospital] and make it a garage with a facade of residential [uses], putting retail on the first floor,” Cochran said. “There was also a strong need for retail. The retail market right around the hospital is – no surprise – the strongest in the area. You have both the commuters and all the people coming to Yale. So it could support new development.”
.... more high-density, mixed-use developments could be coming, depending on the success of the Intercontinental project.
“I think it’s a big factor,” Gilvarg said. “The [neighboring] Pfizer development was, to a great deal, driven by the state Department of Economic and Community Development. So to my mind, they let Pfizer get away with building a 3-story building and surface parking. And we need much denser development in this area.”
“Hopefully the next site, the balance goes the other way [toward] the commercial, the retail and the residential uses,” she added.
The broker community feels the same way.
“For us, that’s 20 to 25 acres of prospective retail and commercial space,” said Rich Guralnick, senior commercial broker for North Haven-based H. Pearce Commercial Real Estate. “My guess is that is going to ultimately wind up being a good mix of medical office and retail.”
In addition to its proximity to the Yale-New Haven Hospital, the land also is close to the St. Raphael Hospital.
“We’re in unbelievable proximity to both the major hospitals in the city,” Guralnick said.
A lot of the area doctors are now located in offices that are either converted older homes or outdated medical buildings, he said, so “there’s a pent up demand both from Yale-New Haven and St. Raphael for doctors to have their private practices in close proximity to the hospital.”
Whatever development goes in likely will have a residential component, too, he said. “I think there’s going to be a demand for residential and affordable housing in that strip as part of the mixed use,” Guralnick said.
For Svigals, the development potential is there.
“With the hospital and the medical school on one side of this connector and the city on the other, you have two very strong generators that will easily fill in that space in between,” Svigals said. “There are two concepts here. One is a stepping stone concept that if you can create – without having to do an entire redevelopment – if you can begin to build upon what’s there and create stepping stones from one place to another, that’s one concept.”
“The other that’s really important is that any urban development has to be synergistic,” Svigals said. “There is no independent piece that can solve an urban problem. You need to be firing on absolutely every cylinder in concert.”
.... “Mixed use is really where the trend has been – how to recapture what got sent out to the suburbs in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s with the urban mall spread,” Guralnick said. “Everyone is coming back into the city. So this is a fun opportunity for the city of New Haven to recapture and reposition itself against suburban sprawl.”
According to Gilvarg, the redevelopment of the lots will be concrete evidence of progress.
“When that starts to happen, I think people will recognize that within five years, two blocks will have been redeveloped after 40 or 50 years of nothing,” Gilvarg said.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008