This week’s opening in New Haven of Alexion Pharmaceutical's new global headquarters marks the completion of the first phase of the city’s revitalization effort.
The idea behind New Haven’s Downtown Crossing Project is to stitch together two parts of the city that were divided back in the 1950s by a highway -- and gain some ten acres of land in the middle. The completion of the Alexion building was phase one of the project.
Matthew Nemerson, New Haven’s Economic Development Administrator, was among those attending this week’s ribbon-cutting. "This is the first building and there will eventually be three buildings," he said. "So, two other buildings are coming, and two other bridges. College Street has been rebuilt, which is one of the main connectors. Then we’re going to build Orange Street, which doesn’t exist right now, and then we’ll build Temple Street, which doesn’t exist either."
Three connectors will go over the old highway with three buildings between them. Nemerson said people have been trying to figure out ways to reconnect the city for years. With the help of the Obama administration’s so-called TIGER grants, reclaiming the old highway for economic development became something everybody was willing to get behind.
It's all good news for New Haven, according to Paul Bass, editor of The New Haven Independent. Speaking on WNPR’s Where We Live, Bass said the news about Alexion isn’t only thing happening in the city.
"In New Haven, there’s a land grab going on," Bass said. "Developers want to come here and we don’t even have to give them money for it, which is very different from anything we’ve seen in the last 30 years that you and I have been around. We used to have to give them tax breaks to come. We’re not giving them tax breaks. There’s another big project happening on the other side of town in Fair Haven where they’re going to take an old Connecticut bus depot and they’re going to build a $16 million technology innovation hub."
And more development means permit fees -- revenue the city’s counting on in the coming fiscal year.