Dixwell Presses Rebuilders On Rents, Jobs


The final remains of the old Winchester Arms factory —  a now-rotting building that reeks of oil on a hot summer’s day —  is slated to be replaced with a new mixed-use apartment complex.

Dixwell residents pressed a redevelopment team on whether they and their neighbors will be welcomed there.

The exchange took place at the latest meeting of the Dixwell Community Management Team, at which Developer Alex Twining of Twining Properties and Science Park Development Board Chair Dave Silverstone made a presentation on the plan for the site at the corner of Mansfield and Munson Streets.

The questions echoed similar concerns expressed by neighbors when the pair made a presentation at last month’s Newhallville Community Management Team meeting.

The planned new building would include 250 apartments, 20 percent of which would be affordable units. 

Twining painted a vision not only for the development but for a ripple effect it would have on the blocks that comprise the Science Park (former Winchester) complex as a whole. He spoke of opening up the segments of Sheffield Avenue within the fence. He described new storefronts, additional apartments, and open streets.

Twining told the management team (which met remotely) that he wants Science Park to become “more of a center of the surrounding neighborhoods, not just a place where people go to work.”

“The more we can have people come and dine here, the more it will be a walkable place — which right now, it’s really not,” he said.

While Twining said he would ideally like to preserve and rehabilitate the historic building, he anticipates that it will need to be knocked down and replaced due to oil contamination.

“There was a lot of drilling and milling of guns with lots of oil” at the site, he explained to the management team. “If you had an oil leak in your basement from an oil tank — imagine that, floor-to-ceiling, on every story. If you walk down the street on a hot summer day, you can smell that.”

After previously telling the Newhallville Community Management Team that the building was set to be demolished, Twining later clarified to the Independent that that decision is not final: “We’ve been reaching out to every different preservation group and consultant around to see if they’ve encountered anything like this.”

“We’ve got a few more leads to run down before we — probably — find out that we have to knock it down,” he added.

Crystal Gooding, the management team’s vice chair, asked how the developers would ensure that the environmental cleanup of the property would be safe for the surrounding neighborhood. “The oil has seeped into the concrete, the flooring, the columns. What can be done to guard it so that it’s isolated from going into the rest of the community?” she asked.

Twining responded that the cleanup would be a multi-step process. First the building itself will need to be remediated before its presumed demolition. Then, after the building is knocked down, the soil needs to be remediated.

“That process will be overseen by the city and the state environmental officials,” said Silverstone. “It will be remediated to the standards that they require, which include making sure that there’s no off-site migration.” Silverstone noted that other former Wincherster Arms buildings have been successfully remediated.

Were the buildings across the street on Hillside tested for contamination? Gooding asked.

Twining replied that the oil doesn’t tend to spread through the air across the street. The potential source of spread to watch for would be groundwater contamination.

Silverstone interjected that there are monitoring wells, which assess groundwater conditions, throughout Science Park.

“We fully expect in this project as well that there will be an addition of monitoring wells to make sure that there is no escape of contaminants offsite. That’s monitored regularly for a number of years,” he said.

Laura Glesby File PhotoGooding noted that other Science Park buildings continue to have vacant retail spaces. What kind of stores and restaurants would be sought for the Munson/Hillside development? she asked.

“The challenge is to try to get enough critical mass that the retail will survive,” Twining said. He called the dilemma a “chicken-and-egg problem”: Science Park needs enough stores to make the area more vibrant, and more conducive to attracting a customer base.

He said he hopes to house “retailers that are not the plain vanilla that are everyone else, that are more community and attractive to the wide array of people in the community.”

Jaime Myers-McPhail pressed the developers on the apartments’ affordability. “Winchester Lofts [next door] is notoriously inaccessible to neighborhood residents,” she said.

Silverstone conceded that the planned level of 20 percent of affordable apartments is “not as much as the neighborhood probably needs,” but argued that “Alex [Twining] is trying to do his best to provide as much affordable housing as the project can afford.”

What about the construction of the building? Will there be jobs for neighborhood residents? asked Lindsey Ruminski.

“There will be construction jobs,” promised Silverstone. He said Science Park complies with state and city requirements to hire minority- and women-owned contractors, with a preference for local bidders.

Dixwell/Newhallville/Prospect Hill Alder Steve Winter pressed Twining and Silverstone on this question. “Will you be making any neighborhood-level hiring commitments for Dixwell-Newhallville folks?”

City Economic Development Director Mike Piscitelli jumped in. At a later in-person or video conference meeting, he said, he will share resources on job training and a business fair. “This is a great area of jobs of the future,” he added, alluding to Science Park’s growing biotech economy, “and there’s a bit of a concern that that stuff is gonna drift to the suburbs or New York. This is a good moment to really work on it for Science Park.”

Ruminski remained skeptical that the added economic activity from the biotech world would trickle down to benefit the neighborhood.

That sounds like a great soundbyte, but you need to make sure that you have the resources in the community to fill those jobs,” she said.

Jerome Perkins, a contractor who expressed interest in working on the project, echoed this sentiment. “We want to make sure that we get jobs and be a part of this, more than we have in the past.”

posted by: anonymous on November 23, 2020  5:52pm

This area has a rich industrial heritage and should be thought of as an extension of downtown New Haven. It used to employ 30,000 residents and is ripe for high-density development.

It would be great to fill this site with 6-8 story structures, a few taller towers, and thousands of housing units and stores. Doing that would bring the maximum benefit to the region, in terms of new jobs, new housing, and tax revenues for New Haven.

The benefits of developing the site should flow to all of the 1,000,000 people in our city and immediate surrounding area, not just to a few hundred who live close to it.

Breaking up the “superblock” by re-opening Sheffield Street, and bringing back the street that used to run east west through the middle of the block, is a great idea.

Unless Congress passes huge new subsidies (which doesn’t look likely anytime soon), then building as much housing as possible is the only way to make housing more affordable in our city.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on November 23, 2020  10:05pm

The planned new building would include 250 apartments, 20 percent of which would be affordable units.

Again affordable for who.Will there be section 8?This reminds me of the Five stages of colonialism which is 1.recon, 2. invasion, 3. occupation, and 4. assimilation of the area’s original peoples by colonizers. 5. Judas Goats.

Jaime Myers-McPhail pressed the developers on the apartments’ affordability. “Winchester Lofts [next door] is notoriously inaccessible to neighborhood residents,” she said.

Silverstone conceded that the planned level of 20 percent of affordable apartments is “not as much as the neighborhood probably needs,” but argued that “Alex [Twining] is trying to do his best to provide as much affordable housing as the project can afford.”

Notice Silverstone conceded that the planned level of 20 percent of affordable apartments is “not as much as the neighborhood probably needs,

So there is your answer.

Dixwell/Newhallville/Prospect Hill Alder Steve Winter pressed Twining and Silverstone on this question. “Will you be making any neighborhood-level hiring commitments for Dixwell-Newhallville folks?”

I knew the New Age Hippie was not that far Behind on this.Give the negroes some jobs as they help the colonizers take the land.

My bad. When every I talk about the New Age Hippie I must always leave Music that fits him.In fact these two songs fit him well.The first song show how he controls the Black community of Dixwell/Newhallville

The Police – Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic

https://youtu.be/aENX1Sf3fgQ

The Police – Spirits in the Material World – Album Ghost In The Machine 1981

Our so-called leaders speak
With words they try to jail you
They subjugate the meek
But it’s the rhetoric of failure

https://youtu.be/BHOevX4DlGk

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on November 24, 2020  8:30am

Anonymous, building more housing will help. But the city’s affordable housing problem is primarily a function of inadequate incomes, rather than a shortage of apartments. The rental vacancy rate for the city (7.5%) is above the statewide rate (6.4%). The median rents are almost identical –  $1,179 for the city, $1,156 for the state. (Data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.) In contrast, the median household income in the city is far below the area median income. The primary problem is not that there aren’t apartments available here, but that people cannot afford them.

As you have noted, filtering does happen. But there is the issue of scale. This development will have 250 apartments. There are over 50,000 housing units in the city The impact of this development on rents city-wide will be quite modest.

Finally, there aren’t one million people living in New Haven and the immediate surrounding area. The population of New Haven County, which includes Waterbury, Meriden, and Milford is 859,000 (again, ACS data). The population of New Haven and its bordering towns is approximately 310,000. There are people living in the suburbs who are interested in moving to the city – I have friends and neighbors who have done so. But their numbers are fairly small.





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