Will 'Downtown Crossing' Project Heal New Haven's Divide?

A target of 1950s urban renewal, New Haven is looking to rewrite renewal's wrongs by re-connecting the Hill neighborhood with downtown via a highway cap project. Critics complain the project doesn't go far enough to heal the area's historic wounds.
July 24, 2012, 1pm PDT | Andrew Gorden
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New Haven's Oak Street Connector, a spur of Interstate 95, cuts between the heart of the city's downtown and the medical industry-heavy Hill neighborhood to the southwest. C.J. Hughes, of The New York Times, reports on a promising effort to re-'cross' the highway with 'Downtown Crossing,' "a $135 million redevelopment plan that has been years in the making."

"Echoing recent efforts by San Francisco, Milwaukee and Boston to alter or remove their highways," reports Hughes, "Downtown Crossing targets a one-mile, mostly sunken section of the connector running roughly between Orange and College Streets." Creating ten acres of new developable land, neighborhood stakeholders and city officials hope the project will act as a catalyst for future development, and increase tax revenues for the city.

Critics of the project have targeted its 850-space parking garage, not required of the developer, and what the New Haven Urban Design League sees as a lack of apartments, stores, and transportation options to "create lasting streetfront vitality."

Boosters hope Downtown Crossing is only the first of a wave of commercial development for the New Haven area, where a low 10.6% office vacancy rate sends a clear message that more space is needed.

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Published on Tuesday, July 17, 2012 in The New York Times
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