New Haven Independent – Extra Step Added For Transit-Oriented Housing

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Extra Step Added For Transit-Oriented Housing

Apr 4, 2024 11:34 am

UNION STATION PARTNERSHIP / PATRIQUIN ARCHITECTS IMAGE Big buildings, not empty lots, envisioned for Union Station area.

With climate change in mind, an aldermanic committee advanced a zoning proposal that would allow as-of-right restaurants, supermarkets, and offices — but not housing — along the Union Station railroad tracks.

City zoning staff and Union Station development boosters appeared before the Board of Alders Legislation Committee on Tuesday night to pitch a new ​Transit-Oriented Community” (TOC) zone, allowing both residential and commercial activities, that would be applied to a strip of Union Avenue incorporating the train station and a few adjacent properties.

The vote that followed marked progress in the New Haven Parking Authority’s long-brewing effort to redevelop vacant lots around Union Station, an area currently zoned for ​wholesale and distribution” uses.

It also displayed how climate change has begun to impact New Haven’s housing and economic development policy.

Apartments would still be permitted next to the transit hub under the alder-advanced amended proposal. But residential developers would have to clear one extra bureaucratic hurdle that would not apply to, for example, those looking to build a co-working space or a radio station on that same train station-adjacent site.

As City Plan Director Laura Brown explained to alders, the TOC zone was proposed in line with a national movement for ​transit-oriented development” — a planning approach that aims to center city life around mass transportation so that residents can more easily live without a car and reduce carbon emissions. The proposed zone would allow taller buildings that could reach 28 – 34 stories, with parking spaces capped at 85 per acre.

A ​mixed-use, pedestrian friendly” approach — including residential buildings — is a key part of the city’s vision with this rezoning proposal, Brown explained. The idea is ​not just about high rises next to a train station,” Brown said. ​How do we design these places to be oriented toward the people?”