Update 11/16/16 – Advantage has pulled out of negotiations to purchase the formal Aerial Map factory, ending its bid to develop self-storage at the site. The company walked away from the deal after a phase-three environmental study revealed previously undetected hazardous material in the roof and ceilings in the building off Whalley Avenue. It also learned two weeks ago about mold issues in the Fitch Street building, according to the source.
Though the company was prepared to invest $600,000 in environmental remediation in addition to $12 million for renovation, fixing the issues identified in the study would prove too costly, Zagoren told the source. “It was kind of the last straw with us,” he said. “It’s too bad. I really liked this site.”
Zagoren estimated Advantage will incur a loss of “six figures” through its prep work and due-diligence period.
11/14/16 – Real estate developer Advantage Development Group is in negotiations to purchase a former factory complex in the Westville neighborhood of New Haven, Conn., and has proposed a mixed-use project for the site that includes self-storage. The plan, which would include art studios on the third floor of one of the buildings and perhaps a book store, would require a zoning variance. The development at 781 Whalley Ave. and 50 Fitch St. would feature 570 storage units and include a 28,000-square-foot addition behind one of the buildings, according to the source.
Portions of the building fronting Whalley Avenue would receive upgrades but retain the building’s historical significance. The addition at the back of the 48,000-square-foot brick building on Fitch Street would also be designed in the character of the current structure, the source reported.
Two primary buildings comprise the former Aerial Map factory on 3.62 acres and includes parking with an entrance off Fitch Street. Stephen Zagoren, chief development officer for Advantage, indicated during a community meeting last week he was open to selling the front building on Fitch Street once the company’s acquisition of the property is complete.
The project would cost $600,000 for environmental remediation and roof repair in addition to other development costs, Zagoren told members of the Westville Community Management Team. The developer considered other uses for the site, including housing and retail, but determined they weren’t economically feasible, according to the source.
Several community members and business owners spoke during the meeting, expressing apprehension about self-storage in an area they consider to be the gateway to the neighborhood. “I have mixed feelings that nothing else is going to work because this is what they said about Lyric Hall,” said restauranteur John Cavaliere in reference to his restored storefront that was once a Vaudeville-era theater. “Who’s to say that some creative soul wouldn’t provide a more interesting and welcoming idea? We are working on placemaking and branding here in Westville, and this seems inconsistent to me.”
Local architect Eric Epstein argued it may be necessary to raze the buildings at the site to secure a use that would be in the community’s best interest.
New Haven alderman Richard Furlow told meeting participants he would support any decision preferred by the community but noted that Fitch Street is zoned for light-commercial uses and already includes businesses offering auto repair, awnings and landscaping.
Liz Donius, executive director for the Westville Village Renaissance Alliance community group, indicated another neighborhood meeting was scheduled for this evening to give more community members an opportunity to voice their opinions.