Brownfield Redevelopment in New Haven, Connecticut
Forest City addressed environmental concerns and restored the historic character of a former manufacturing building to create 158 mixed-income rental units. Credit: Chris Randall In New Haven, Connecticut, an 80-acre brownfield site near Yale University is being repurposed as Yale Science Park, a vibrant innovation district with mixed-income housing. The former manufacturing park for Winchester Repeating Arms was underutilized and largely vacant for decades, leading to neighborhood blight. To address these challenges and expand opportunities for local residents, a group of stakeholders, including Yale University and the city of New Haven, established the Science Park Development Corporation (SPDC). SPDC has garnered private investment, assisted in brownfield remediation efforts, and spurred the development and redevelopment of office, laboratory, retail, and residential spaces.
Establishing New UsesAt its peak in the mid-1940s, the Winchester Repeating Arms manufacturing facility employed more than 40,000 workers. With the area’s subsequent industrial decline, however, SPDC and its partners are reimagining the space and considering how it can add value to the community. SPDC rehabilitated former manufacturing buildings to create an incubator for a growing biotechnology industry and technology-based manufacturing companies. In addition to providing the physical space, SPDC has capitalized on the science park’s proximity to Yale University, which offers firms convenient access to university libraries and other resources. Although SPDC’s efforts have helped establish the site as an incubator for biotechnology companies, the science park is also home to several other startups and established companies that together employ 1,100 people, a number that is expected to climb over the next several years.
The Winchester Lofts development offers a range of studio, one, and two-bedroom units including 30 rent-restricted apartments. Credit: Chris Randall
In addition to creating a platform for growing companies, SPDC has attracted investment and involvement from national firms to continue remediating and restoring the brownfield site. In the early 2000s, SPDC entered into ground leases that led to additional office development and a broader range of uses in Yale Science Park. The current leaseholders — the financial company Higher One and developer Forest City Enterprises — have begun implementing a phased development plan that ensures environmental safety and economic productivity on the ground-lease site while supporting previous SPDC development.
The development team has had to remediate contaminated groundwater and abate lead, asbestos, and other hazardous building materials. In addition to $5 million in abatement and adding a 2-foot-deep cap of soil to prevent further groundwater contamination, they installed a sub-slab depressurization system to prevent groundwater contaminants from permeating the building’s foundation. In 2011, Higher One opened the first phase of the development, with 275 employees in 140,000 square feet of rehabilitated space and new construction for offices. Forest City has also moved forward on the development of mixed-income residential space, opening Winchester Lofts in fall 2014.
Residential Development at Yale Science Park
Winchester Lofts offers a mix of studios and one- and two-bedroom apartments. Of its 158 units, 20 percent are income restricted, with 16 units affordable to households earning below 60 percent of the area median income (AMI) and 16 units affordable for those earning up to 100 percent of AMI. The development is designed to attract young professionals, and is equipped with a full gym, pet-grooming facilities, indoor bike parking, and an arcade room. In addition to reusing a historic building on a remediated site, the developers used locally sourced building materials whenever possible and ENERGY STAR®-rated appliances in all units.
According to Abe Naparstek, senior vice president of east coast development for Forest City Enterprises, the company’s private investment has added both aesthetic and economic value to the science park and its surrounding neighborhoods. The redevelopment of Winchester Lofts generates tax-producing properties, allows for population growth, and supports neighborhood retail. In addition, approximately 25 percent of the construction workers who built Winchester Lofts were local residents and minorities.
The development cost for Winchester Lofts was $59.2 million, partially funded through $11.9 million in federal historic tax credits and $7.7 million in state historic tax credits. The project also received $4 million from the state’s Competitive Housing Assistance for Multifamily Properties initiative and a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. SPDC Capital provided an additional $786,000, and the remaining funds came through a bank loan and developer investment.
SPDC is continuing its efforts to position Yale Science Park as a growing business and residential district. SPDC has worked closely with the community and private investors to establish successful and enriching developments. Forest City and its partners have moved forward with designs for the third phase on their site, an expansion of the Winchester Lofts project. This phase will add 200 apartments to the science park and include the remediation of a courtyard as an amenity for residents. Naparstek also believes that the potential exists for a fourth phase, either for Higher One to expand or for another commercial tenant to locate in the science park.
City of New Haven, Connecticut. n.d. “Welcome to SPDC.” Accessed 10 February 2015; Connecticut Technology Council. 2013. “Science Park Development Corporation.” Accessed 13 February 2015; Yale Tech Connection. 2015. “25 Science Park: A User’s Manual.” Accessed 2 March 2015; Interview with Abe Naparstek, senior vice president of east coast development at Forest City, 19 February 2015.×
City of New Haven, Connecticut. n.d. “Welcome to SPDC.” Accessed 10 February 2015; Connecticut Technology Council. 2013. “Science Park Development Corporation.” Accessed 13 February 2015; Yale Tech Connection. 2015. “25 Science Park: A User’s Manual.” Accessed 2 March 2015; City of New Haven, Connecticut. n.d. “History of New Haven.” Accessed 13 March 2015; Gordon Lafer. 2003. “Land and Labor in the Post-Industrial University Town: Remaking Social Geography.” Political Geography 22:1, 89–117.×
City of New Haven, Connecticut. n.d. “Welcome to SPDC.” Accessed 10 February 2015; Connecticut Technology Council. 2013. “Science Park Development Corporation.” Accessed 13 February 2015; Yale Tech Connection. 2015. “25 Science Park: A User’s Manual.” Accessed 2 March 2015; Interview with Abe Naparstek, senior vice president of east coast development, Forest City Enterprises, 19 February 2015; Documents provided by Forest City Enterprises.×
Interview with Abe Naparstek, senior vice president of east coast development, Forest City. 19 February 2015; Documents provided by Forest City; Peter Yazbak. 2013. “Gov. Malloy: Project Will Transform Vacant, but Historic Factory Building into Affordable, Safe Housing in New Haven ,” press release, 10 September. Accessed 10 April 2015.×
Documents provided by Forest City; Interview with Abe Naparstek, senior vice president of east coast development, Forest City Enterprises, 19 February 2015.×
Documents provided by Forest City; Interview with Abe Naparstek, 19 February 2015.×
Interview with Abe Naparstek, 19 February 2015; Documents provided by Forest City Enterprises.×