Real Estate: Green Gamble
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Critics question the apartments’ affordability and their less-than-spiffy lower Chapel Street location. But new residential developments have helped transform other urban neighborhoods in Connecticut—notably, downtown Stamford and South Norwalk—and the lower Chapel Street area has already been brightened by the opening of a number of good restaurants and galleries. What’s more, the pre-opening leasing of more than a fifth of the units, often with early-signing bonuses, affirms a vibrancy in the market for this type of product.
Erin Johnson, 24, who works at Yale, moved into a studio apartment at 360 State Street at the end of July. After sharing an apartment with roommates in the East Rock section of the city, she wanted a place of her own and was attracted to the new facility and appliances, its green features and security. The rent was also doable.
“It’s not the cheapest apartment I looked at,” she says, “but it also wasn’t the most expensive, and it’s worth it.” She received a month’s free rent for leasing early, and a year of waived amenities’ fees under the developer’s “preferred employer” program.
As for the location, Johnson adds, “I know some people have safety concerns, but I’m from New Haven so I’m comfortable on Chapel Street. It’s an up-and-coming neighborhood, it looks like it’ll be an exciting community, and I think the more people who move in will make it a safer place to walk and live.”
The project has also drawn qualified praise from Robert A.M. Stern, the prominent New York architect and dean of the Yale School of Architecture.
“It’s not the most interesting building I’ve ever seen, but I think it’s clean and well thought-out,” Stern says. “The way it sits at the edge of Chapel Street and makes a strong corner, and the siting and urbanism are, in my opinion, superlative. It’s great that people can get out of their apartments and take the train to New York City or walk to buses and the network of institutions and services downtown New Haven has to offer. It’s the kind of goal, I think, many of us here have for the new urbanism.”