By Michael P. Walsh
Special to the Voice
State Rep. Dorinda Borer (D-115) and Mayor Nancy R. Rossi, together with members of West Haven’s General Assembly delegation and city leaders, announced $5 million in state funding Sept. 20 for the reconstruction of Elm Street — the future entrance of The Haven, a $200 million, 261,182-square-foot luxury outlet center.
Borer and Rossi heralded the money during a news conference at Elm and Water streets shortly after it was authorized by the state Bond Commission. They were joined by state Reps. Michael A. DiMassa, D-116, and Charles J. Ferraro, R-117; Rossi’s executive assistant, Lou Esposito; and Fred A. Messore, the city’s commissioner of planning and development.
The funding, sought by West Haven officials for traffic improvements on Elm Street and public waterfront access near Water Street, is being allocated to the city through a grant from the Department of Economic and Community Development’s Urban Action Grant Program.
Officials said the traffic upgrades are aimed at supporting the framework for The Haven South Municipal Development Plan.
Borer and Rossi credited city grants writer Eileen M. Krugel for helping to secure the funding, which will widen the main corridor of Elm Street and replace traffic lights.
The Elm Street reconstruction also calls for paving and streetscaping near the project entrance, officials said.
Borer said that after a major traffic study, the funding was awarded to address the traffic flow.
“Securing state funding for this project was a bipartisan effort and a collective priority of the administration and delegation,” said Borer, D-West Haven, who represents the 115th District, which includes The Haven site. “I am thankful to all involved for recognizing the great potential we have here in West Haven.”
Borer added: “The Elm Street project is not just about building and improving the gateway to The Haven; this project is about the gateway to our city. Besides Lorenzo’s plaza, which is a diamond in the rough, the first impression when you come over the bridge and enter the city is not a good one, and changing that is long overdue. Cleaning up this area, widening Elm Street, putting in appropriate lanes and traffic signals, and paving will all have a significant impact not only on the functionality but will kick off a change in the image. It will also be more inviting to future developers throughout West Haven.”
The afternoon announcement was also attended by City Council Chairman Ronald M. Quagliani, D-at large; City Council Minority Leader Richard DePalma, R-at large; Councilman Peter V. Massaro, D-6; City Clerk Deborah Collins; city Treasurer Michael P. Last; city sidewalk inspector Ernie Chiarelli; former Mayor John M. Picard; and Krugel.
On May 21 at City Hall, world-renowned outlet mall developer Simon Property Group and its development partner, The Haven Group LLC, submitted their long-anticipated site plan to build “America’s first upscale waterfront outlet mall.”
The Haven, expected to break ground this year, will feature dozens of luxury retail shops, a 200-seat amphitheater, seven restaurants and a waterfront promenade in the 26-acre Water Street project area, which comprises 55 properties bounded by Main Street, First Avenue and Elm Street.
“West Haven appreciates the investment that this funding represents to our city and to the state,” Rossi said. “The $5 million that the Bond Commission approved supports important redevelopment. I am grateful to (Gov. Dannel P. Malloy), the commission and the West Haven delegation, especially Representative Borer, for their roles in securing this funding. Representative Borer has continuously advocated for this project in Hartford.”
Rossi added: “The future Haven South development will be enhanced by traffic improvements to Elm Street and access to our waterfront. These funds are for architectural, engineering and construction services — and we all know that this means jobs. I would also like to thank my chief of staff, Lou Esposito, and Commissioner Fred A. Messore for facilitating this project and former Mayors John Picard and Edward O’Brien for their work.”
DiMassa said, “These investments will improve our infrastructure and will be a catalyst for The Haven development, which is slated to bring hundreds of jobs and annual tax revenue to the city of West Haven.”
John P. Dionis, vice president of development for Simon Premium Outlets, based in Morristown, New Jersey, said: “The awarding of this grant by Governor Malloy and his administration is greatly appreciated as we continue to advance our transformational project, The Haven. Simon and The Haven Group also wish to thank the citizens of West Haven, Mayor Nancy Rossi, former Mayors Ed O’Brien and John Picard, and their administrations for their steadfast support of this development.”
Messore said: “Today is an exciting step moving this project forward and consistent with the efforts from 2003, when the city, under Mayor H. Richard Borer Jr., adopted the West River Municipal Development Plan in part to address the redevelopment of the area along the eastern gateway to the city of West Haven that borders the West River and to address the inefficiency of moving traffic along our roadway of Elm Street; more recently, with the site plan approval in July for The Haven high-end retail outlet. This bond allocation will assist with the costs associated with improvements to the roadway while staying consistent with the original mission of the Municipal Development Plan of 2003.”