City sells Bayview Park to The Haven for $257,500

New Haven Register (New Haven, CT) - - FRONT PAGE - By Mark Zaret­sky

WEST HAVEN — The city has sold the city­owned Bayview Park to the de­vel­op­ers seek­ing to build The Haven lux­ury out­let mall for $257,500, mov­ing the mall project one step closer to re­al­ity, Mayor Nancy Rossi said Fri­day.

But city of­fi­cials were un­able to say when con­struc­tion might be­gin on the long-de­layed, $200 mil­lion, 261,182-square­foot lux­ury out­let cen­ter along the West River, which ob­tained its fi­nal city de­vel­op­ment ap­provals over the sum­mer.

A spokesman for the de­vel­oper did not im­me­di­ately re­turn a call for com­ment.

The out­let mall will

cover 26 wa­ter­front acres and will fea­ture dozens of lux­ury re­tail shops, restau­rants, a wa­ter­front prom­e­nade and a 200-seat am­phithe­ater. It is ex­pected to gen­er­ate be­tween 800 and 1,200 jobs and sev­eral mil­lion dol­lars in mu­nic­i­pal tax rev­enue and fees.

The project, along New Haven Har­bor at the mouth of the West River be­tween Elm and Main streets, be­gan back when John Pi­card was mayor and was first an­nounced just over four years ago by then-Mayor Ed O’Brien.

Rossi pre­sented a check to Fi­nance Di­rec­tor Ron­ald Ci­catelli dur­ing a brief cer­e­mony in City Coun­cil cham­bers Fri­day af­ter­noon. State Reps. Michael DiMassa, D-West Haven, and Charles Fer­raro, R-West Haven, and city Trea­surer Michael Last at­tended the an­nounce­ment.

The price the city got is slightly higher than the ap­praised value, said Rossi. She thanked the de­vel­oper for agree­ing to the terms.

She thanked Com­mis­sioner of Plan­ning & De­vel­op­ment Fred A. Mes­sore and Cor­po­ra­tion Coun­sel Lee Tier­nan for their ef­forts to “keep push­ing” and work with the de­vel­oper to make it hap­pen.

In or­der to sell the 0.87acre par­cel at Wa­ter and Main streets, which the de­vel­oper needs for the project, the city needed ap­proval from the Na­tional Park Ser­vice, which had ju­ris­dic­tion as a re­sult of fed­eral grants used to de­velop the park.

A de­vel­op­ment agree­ment be­tween West Haven and The Haven Group reached more than three years ago by the O’Brien ad­min­is­tra­tion in­cluded the sale of the wa­ter­front park. But the city had to re­solve sev­eral is­sues re­lated to the prop­erty’s ti­tle be­fore the sale could take place.

Be­fore it gave the OK, the fed­eral agency needed as­sur­ances that the de­vel­oper will fund im­prove­ments at an­other city park, city of­fi­cials said.

“One of my first ac­tions as mayor was to de­mand that the cor­po­ra­tion coun­sel do what was nec­es­sary, as quickly as pos­si­ble, to com­plete the sale of this park be­cause The Haven Group told me it was a nec­es­sary com­po­nent for the de­vel­op­ment of the up­scale wa­ter­front shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence,” Rossi said.

“The Haven Group has made clear that the sale of the park by the city of West Haven was nec­es­sary be­fore any de­vel­op­ment would take place,” she said.

The city will now make im­prove­ments to the city­owned park on Con­tact Drive, off South Street in West Shore, as part of the ap­proval with the fed­eral agency, Rossi said.

That came as bit­ter­sweet news to City Coun­cil­man Aaron Char­ney, D-3, in whose district Bayview Park is lo­cated.

“It’s great news that this holdup has been solved, but I’m dis­ap­pointed the Third District is los­ing a park and the money from this sale is not be­ing used to im­prove parks in this part of town,” Char­ney said in an email.

“Third Ave Park, which is the only other park in this district, could des­per­ately use this money,” Char­ney said. “Morse Park, which is near by, could have used it as well. For $257,500 we could build a splash pad at Morse.”

Rossi and Tier­nan, who ne­go­ti­ated along with Mes­sore to have the fed­eral re­stric­tions lifted, said the city was lim­ited in what it could do to sat­isfy the park ser­vice.

“Our park space has to serve a need and there’s a greater need in other parts of the city,” es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing that there are fewer chil­dren in the neigh­bor­hood around The Haven as a re­sult of the homes that the de­vel­oper ac­quired to assem­ble the site.

But “the con­cept that’s ap­proved pro­vides for un­lim­ited ac­cess to the wa­ter” from what es­sen­tially will be “a park-like space” that will be much larger than the cur­rent Bayview Park, said Tier­nan.

Ac­cord­ing to Mes­sore, the project still needs ap­proval from the Of­fice of the State Traf­fic Ad­min­is­tra­tion, or OSTA, for im­prove­ments to Elm Street, which is a state high­way, be­fore it go for­ward.

The de­vel­oper cur­renly has an ap­pli­ca­tion pend­ing, which has passed the first step, gain­ing state Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion Ap­proval for the traf­fic vol­umes it es­ti­mates the project would gen­er­ate, Mes­sore said.

DOT spokesman Kevin Nur­sick con­firmed that in­for­ma­tion and said the de­vel­oper’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives came in for a “Step 2” meet­ing two weeks ago and got com­ments on a pre­lim­i­nary mit­i­ga­tion plan, but still had to sub­mit a for­mal mit­i­ga­tion plan that the OSTA must con­sider.

That plan ar­rived on Fri­day, Nur­sick said.

Once a for­mal mit­i­ga­tion is sub­mit­ted, “there prob­a­bly would be ap­proval within 60 days,” he said.

The Haven Group re­ceived site plan ap­proval from the city Plan­ning and Zon­ing Com­mis­sion in July.

Two months later, the state Bond Com­mis­sion ap­proved $5 mil­lion for the re­con­struc­tion of Elm

Street — the fu­ture en­trance of the cen­ter.

The Na­tional Park Ser­vice granted the city re­lief from its Ur­ban Park and Recre­ation Re­cov­ery grant obli­ga­tions re­gard­ing Bayview Park in Au­gust.

The Park Ser­vice’s ap­proval process re­quired the city to pre­pare and file an ap­pli­ca­tion pack­age ear­lier this year with its Philadel­phia of­fice. It also re­quired com­pli­ance with the Na­tional His­toric Preser­va­tion Act and ap­provals from the state Depart­ment of En­ergy and En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion and the U.S. En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency.

The Haven Group re­cently agreed to re­im­burse

West Haven for the cost of city at­tor­ney fees for the project as part of the ne­go­ti­ated sale, Rossi said.

Af­ter a com­pre­hen­sive re­view, Bayview Park was found not to have any sig­nif­i­cant his­toric value. Only a half-acre of the par­cel is land that can be de­vel­oped, city of­fi­cials said.

State and fed­eral funds for the site in­cluded a $200,000 en­vi­ron­men­tal cleanup in 2007, a $2 mil­lion bulk­head re­con­struc­tion in 2012 and a $2 mil­lion brown­field cleanup in 2016, as well as the re­cent state bond money. In ad­di­tion, a real es­tate prop­erty tax abate­ment agree­ment was ne­go­ti­ated in 2015.

“All of our state del­e­ga­tion, the gov­er­nor, the fed­eral del­e­ga­tion and other pub­lic part­ners have been help­ful and es­sen­tial, and we are grate­ful,” Rossi said. “For its part, the de­vel­oper has spent in ex­cess of $32 mil­lion on the project since it was first pitched to thenMayor John M. Pi­card in 2012 by Shel­don M. Gordon, who is now de­ceased.”

The Haven had been in the prop­erty ac­qui­si­tion stage for four years as the de­vel­op­ers ne­go­ti­ated with 57 prop­erty own­ers. The de­vel­op­ers sub­mit­ted the ap­pli­ca­tion for site plan ap­proval to the city in May, nearly four years af­ter first an­nounc­ing plans to build it.

In­di­anapo­lis-based Simon Prop­erty Group has joined The Haven Group as a part­ner in the project.

The change was an­nounced sev­eral months af­ter the death of The Haven part­ner Shel­don Gordon in late Septem­ber 2017.

Simon, owner of the Clin­ton Cross­ing out­lets in Clin­ton and the Crys­tal Mall in Water­ford, is one of the largest shop­ping cen­ter de­vel­op­ers in the world.

The Haven Group, orig­i­nally a part­ner­ship led by Ty Miller, the Dal­las-based pres­i­dent of the Haven Group LLC, and Gordon, is af­fil­i­ated with the fam­ily that owns High­land Park Vil­lage in Dal­las.

Peter Hviz­dak / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia

From left, city Trea­surer Michael P. Last; Plan­ning and De­vel­op­ment Com­mis­sioner Fred A. Mes­sore; Fi­nance Di­rec­tor Ron­ald Ci­catelli; Mayor Nancy Rossi; state Rep. Charles J. Fer­raro ; state Rep. Michael DiMassa; and Cor­po­ra­tion Coun­cil Lee Tier­nan at West Haven City Hall Fro­dai.

Con­trib­uted Photo / Michael P. Walsh - City of West Haven

Bayview Park, over­look­ing New Haven Har­bor at Wa­ter and Main streets in West Haven.

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