City officials hailed a settlement in the last remaining property stalling the construction of an upscale mall that will, it is hoped, boost the city’s lagging economy. The Haven, a $200 million, 261,182-square-foot luxury outlet center, was announced in 2014.
The last remaining eminent domain action pending in the Connecticut State Superior Court concerning the Haven waterfront development project has been withdrawn by the City of West Haven, Mayor Nancy Rossi announced today. The withdrawal occurred after the developer, The Haven Group, LLC, negotiated a settlement with the land owner.
Eminent domain actions require applicants to deposit sufficient funds with the court to pay for any land taking. In this case, the developer had deposited $862,500 with the court, which has now been released.
“This settlement and withdrawal are important steps towards Connecticut State Department of Transportation (DOT) approval of the transportation plan for the Haven,” said Rossi.
Once the Haven Group receives DOT approval of its transportation plan, funds from the Connecticut State Department of Economic and Community Development become available and physical work at the site can begin.
The news comes at a time when speculations regarding the upscale mall were rife through social media. In February, the developer had sent letters to area businesses, those businesses reported. The letter indicated that demolition of the four-block area was imminent and may begin as early as March 1. However, work never began fueling social media outbreaks.
The problem was further exacerbated in March when two fires occurred within two blocks of each other, one on Richards Place and the other at the former headquarters of Bilco Door on Water Street. Neither fire was considered arson, but accident caused by homeless people or squatters looking to keep warm. The fires have alarmed both the developer and city officials, prompting security personnel to be stationed at the location.
The West Haven City Council had been considering closure of Water Street, the future site of the Haven. At the request of the State Representative Borer for the 115th District which includes the site, the road will remain open for the time being.
The DOT approval is the next pivotal step in the beginning of demolition and construction. A traffic plan sufficient enough to handle, both incoming and outgoing travelers must be approved by the agency. Since the 2014 announcement, the DOT closed the former Exit 44 cloverleaf that exited onto Kimberly Avenue in New Haven, and have restructured the traffic pattern to the Ella Grasso Boulevard, and into West Haven via City Point.
The Kimberly Avenue Bridge, constructed in 1969, and only anticipated to last about 20 years, is the only ingress and egress from New Haven and Elm Street. Reconstruction of that bridge has been contemplated for years.
The Haven is the latest and most significant project announced for the Water Street area. Since it was first announced as the “Water Street Project” in 1997, the plan has gone through several iterations and names, including West River Crossing. All plans stalled, however, with nothing happening until the Haven Group, LLC announced its plans under former Mayor Edward M. O’Brien.