Why this petition matters
If “Three strikes and you’re out” applied to zoning decisions, the plan for 78 Olive Street, New Haven CT would strike out. It fails on three key measures — urban design, transit oriented planning, and affordable housing.
Although the developer, PMC, had agreed to participate in a community workshop on the plan to address these issues, Alder Sabin did not support this progressive, democratic approach to community development. He shut down the community voice to negotiate on his own for what HE wanted from the developer. It was not a surprise that when Alder Sabin’s deal was presented to the neighborhood, the community resoundingly rejected it.
Yet, Alder Sabin is rushing the plan forward in the regulatory process. We ask that you sign the petition to oppose a zone change requested by the owner, PMC, that would sanction this inappropriate plan.
Here are the reasons why this plan is BAD:
The proposed zone change would allow the developer to build a 13-story, 136 unit apartment tower in the historic Wooster Square neighborhood — an area characterized by 2-5 story buildings. 78 Olive Street, better known as the “Smoothie Building” is a former corset factory that was converted to apartments, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The proposed project would be built on a section of this property facing Chapel and Union Streets and would be incongruous with its historic setting. The PMC proposal displays a flagrant disinterest in improving the experience of people on the street or improving the image of our city’s skyline.
- Incongruent Design: The project’s lack of architectural congruence with the Historic Wooster Square neighborhood is matched by its lack of good planning for sidewalks, streetscape improvements, or multi-modal accommodations. This is an especially serious deficiency for this key site, which is adjacent to the State Street Railroad Station and Downtown.
- This is NOT affordable housing: New Haven is facing an affordable housing crisis, which is most acute for people earning between 40 and 50% of the Area Median Income (AMI). For this reason, the City’s Inclusionary Zoning ordinance caps subsidies at 50% of AMI. PMC is proposing to set aside only 14 units as "affordable housing” and just for 25 years. Of these, half the units would be offered to tenants earning 60% of AMI ($43,260) and the other half to people earning 80% AMI ($57,680). None of the units would be set aside for New Haveners most in need. The vast majority of units in this construction would be luxury apartments. PMC’s plan is clearly not consistent with creating truly affordable housing for our City, and public goods (zoning relief) should not be traded for it.
- No Firm Commitment to Pedestrian Safety: While the developer, PMC has offered funds to study street safety in the area, it has not provided specific plans nor made a firm commitment to improving current safety and maintenance problems that have long plagued their property.
Residents of the neighborhood support neighborhood development that respects its surroundings, provides truly affordable housing, and real plans for safe streets. The PMC project fails to meet any of these critical public standards.
Please sign the petition to oppose the 13-story building as it is currently proposed and to ask that Alder Eli Sabin recommend that the Board of Alders table their vote scheduled for April 4, 2022 so that the community could meaningfully participate and negotiate a better plan with the developer.