NEW HAVEN — The city celebrated the return to housing in a portion of Wooster Square that 50 years ago became a commercial corridor that cut off the neighborhood from downtown.
Darren Seid of Epimoni and Peter Antoniou of Adam America were joined by city officials in a ceremonial groundbreaking at 87 Union St. Thursday where 299 apartments, that will include studios, one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and three-bedroom units, will be constructed as well as dedicated parking.
The site, bound by Union Street, Fair Street and Olive Street, is the first development there in many decades, but it will be joined by others.
It was held up for awhile by a suit brought by the owners of the nearby Strouse-Adler Smoothie apartments at 78 Olive St.
Epimoni and Adam America bought the site for $10 million in 2017 from Petra Development and Davis Adam Realty, who submitted the original site plan for the development. Part of the design will be townhouses that will emulate the look of those already in historic Wooster Square.
The final project design was tweaked somewhat with the 6,000 square feet of ground floor retail space now facing Olive Street. The retail component is within walking distance of the CitySeed Farmers Market and Wooster Square Park.
The complex will feature such amenities as a pool, rooftop space and state of the art technologies.
Michael Piscitelli, interim economic development administrator, said the new housing will be a two-minute walk to the State Street train station and only a few blocks from Union Station.
He said the new residents will be located “in one of the most culturally iconic neighborhoods anywhere in the Northeast — Wooster Square.”
This development is only blocks away from one approved years ago for Chapel and Olive streets by Spinnaker that was hit with multiple suits by PMC Property Group, which owns the Smoothie apartments.
The suit against 87 Union St. disappeared fairly quickly when the courts ruled PMC had no standing to sue over this project.
Piscitelli said both developments were part of longtime planning in conjunction with the neighborhood which Alder Aaron Greenberg said goes back to 2014.
He said the sites are “ground zero” for businesses that are part of the innovation-based economy in New Haven.
Mayor Toni Harp said the market for apartments has been growing for downtown from Wooster Square to the Yale Medical School.
“There is no question in my mind that this new project underscores how New Haven is becoming a self-contained urban oasis for thousands of new residents who want easy access to all these opportunities within walking distance of their homes and mass transit,” Harp said.
“I fell in love with New Haven the first time I visited it,” Antoniou said.
Seid said it has been a delight to deal with the city’s economic development staff and all the initiatives taken by the city years before they arrived.
“You guys have been doing things here that have been drawing development and drawing spending, drawing investment and we are just happy to become part of it. The charm of this neighborhood is so unique. New Haven is unique in itself compared to any place in the country ... Wooster Square as well has its beautiful pocket of New Haven that is a delight to be working in,” Seid said.
The project will soon have demolition permits to knock down the warehouses formerly used by Torroco, a plumbing supply company, and Turtle & Hughes, an electrical distributor.
Seid said the prices of the rentals will be close to those at 360 State Street and the Corsair on upper State Street. He said the entry price, however, to the complex will be lower than those two high-end apartments.