In a separate vote for an unrelated project, a total of 186 more apartments have been approved for development by the Epimoni Corp. at 20 and 34 Fair St.
Wooster Square is undergoing a transformation with more than 700 apartments under construction in little over a block.
For City Engineer Giovanni Zinn, the Long Wharf approval makes concrete some of the recommendations in the Long Wharf Growth Plan that seeks to make this area more resilient to protect the important industries there and welcome a residential component.
Zinn said the Fusco proposal fits into the city’s approach to planning for the future while taking into consideration sea rise levels, climate change, protecting its strategic assets and environmental justice.
The original PDD was put in place when the Fusco Corp. constructed its Maritime Center on adjacent property in 1984, where it has its main headquarters and other business tenants.
The new proposal still has to go to an aldermanic committee hearing and get approval from the Board of Alders. City Plan will then address a full site plan, although considerable detail has already been released.
Fusco wants to construct two mixed-use buildings of 13 and 15 stories with a range of apartments from studios to three-bedrooms. The first floor would contain 20,000 square feet of commercial space, including a public market with indoor and outdoor food services.
The project will sit on 4.3 acres with some 2 acres landscaped for public use and featuring plazas, seating and a contiguous harbor walk, a big plus for the Hill neighbors who reacted positively to the proposal.
It will not be wood and podium construction, which is mainly what is featured in New Haven, but rather the buildings will be made of brick, masonry and glass, according to attorney Matthew Ranelli, who represents Fusco.
The growth plan proposed five new walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods for Long Wharf, one of which was a Harbor District. It said that Long Wharf was underutilized and it recommended “denser development of new residential and commercial uses.”
Ranelli told the commission that the proposal “will create a destination for New Haven residents and others to visit the shoreline. The mixed-use amenities will create a synergy and direct connection with the (Canal Dock) boathouse, Long Wharf Park, and the Hill South and Downtown neighborhoods.”
The approval comes as Brian Thompson, director of the land and water resources division of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, recommended that the alders turn down the proposal over potential flooding concerns.
Thompson said the property straddles two 100-year flood zones and adding “significant residential density increases, rather than minimizes, the hazards to life and property inconsistent” with the Connecticut Coastal Management Act.
“The proposed (PDD) modifications would create a pathway for a large population of residents to live in an area that is exposed to existing impacts from coastal storms and flood events, which will be exacerbated in the future due to climate change,” he wrote.
Thompson told the alders that if the development were to receive any state or federal funding, “the residential component of the proposed buildings will need to be elevated to the 500-year Flood level plus two feet of freeboard,” according to state law.”
He said it is DEEP’s policy to “minimize the necessity of public expenditure and shoreline armoring to protect future new development from such hazards.”
Zinn said the city shares DEEP’s concerns for the protection of residents, as well property and not to approve something that would later require investments in structures and other protections.
Zinn said it is still early in the process, but staff feel that “Fusco has shown a pathway (to protection against flooding) by having their first floor elevation at 15 feet, which is two feet higher than the base flood elevation of 13 feet.”
“There is no substitute for elevation in terms of preventing flooding,” he said.
Zinn said there are important technical challenges, but as a coastal community that will be faced with the brunt of climate change, New Haven has opted to determine what it can do to mitigate it now, rather than “throw up our hands” and wait for the serious impacts to unfold.
Zinn said the city is already tackling part of the climate issue by creating natural ways of dealing with storm runoff as New Haven plans for the next 50 to 100 years.
The city engineer said there is an environmental justice side to this.
“We can’t give up the benefits of being in our strategic location and simply have to live with the burdens of it,” Zinn said, of the negative impact creation of Interstates 91 and 95 had on neighborhoods.aside">
Plans are in place to protect the transportation corridors and the Metro North rail yards, something that is of importance to the region.
Zinn said using responsible quality development also is a way to “create and fund the infrastructure” that will be needed to mitigate climate change.
Others pointed out that while residential buildings are questioned, a fuel terminal could be built by right and is allowed as a water-related use under coastal management.
“Starting a transformation now will allow the city to still benefit and prosper from these transportation corridors,” the engineer said of the highways and rail connections.
Chairwoman Leslie Radcliffe said she agrees with Zinn’s interpretation and is impressed with the extent of Fusco’s consultation with the neighborhood, as well as the amenities that are open to the public.
Aicha Woods, executive director of City Plan, said she feels the applicant “did a really good job” of addressing the safety concerns and the building code.
She said New Haven is an historic coastal city that has to manage the transition from polluted industrial water uses to clean uses, while also anticipating climate change and reducing dependence on fossil fuel.
On the Epimoni project, which was the subject of numerous public meetings with Wooster Square neighbors concerned about a lack of affordable units, the commission approved the seven-story apartment complex and the public greenway.
It will feature studio, one-, two-, three- and four bedroom units and more than 1,000 square feet of commercial space.
It has already been approved as a Planned Development Unit and has gained zoning relief to allow apartments starting at a minimum of 850 square feet down from 1,000 square feet.
The developer will grant the city an easement for the greenway which will open up Fair Street. Darren Seid of Epimoni, a New York firm, while turning over the greenway to the city, said his company will provide the maintenance for the amenity.
Seid also owns the 299-unit Olive and Wooster apartment complex that is slated to open next month and is located next to the Fair Street project.
Rents at Olive and Wooster will range from $1,911 for studios to $5,700 for four-bedroom apartments, according to its website. It will feature 8,000 square feet of retail space.
Next to Olive and Wooster is The Whit, under construction by Hines, a Houston based builder. It will have 230 apartments.
Source : https://www.chron.com/news/article/Plans-for-nearly-700-new-apartments-in-New-Haven-16557031.php1491