Residents speak out about controversial outlet mall proposal in West Haven

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WEST HAVEN–There were so many people who came to speak at Monday night’s West Haven city council meeting that the discussion had to be moved to a bigger room. Dozens of residents voiced their opinions about a controversial proposal to build an upscale outlet mall in the city.

The planned mall would include 65 retail stores, six restaurants and a promenade on 24 acres. Fifty-five businesses and homes currently occupying that land would have to move. Mayor Ed O’Brien said 49 of those 55 properties are already in contract to sell to the developer. O’Brien said the properties are being made offers at well above market value.

“We don’t want to see anyone lose their house by eminent domain or anybody move that isn’t treated fairly,” said O’Brien. “So we’re hoping that eminent domain is an absolute last resort.”

Developer Mark Anderson of The Havens Group, LLC said his company does not want to resort to eminent domain and wants to help those who are affected.

“I don’t want this city to lose a diner or luncheonette,” said Anderson. “We’d like to help those people relocate. And we’ve been very fair in our offers to those folks.”

The majority of residents who spoke are in favor of the outlet mall.

“[This is] the best thing to happen to this city in the 40 years I’ve invested here,” said one man who owns property in West Haven.

“I feel like this development is long overdue and has been needed for some time,” said another West Haven resident.

Others were opposed to the project. “This is a project doomed to fail,” said one West Haven man.

“I’ve worked at Nick’s Luncheonette for 16 years,” said a West Haven woman. “Nick’s will have been there for 25 years. [He] gets up every day and goes to work 7 days a week for 25 years and now you want to take his business away from him?”

The city council said it will take feedback from Monday night’s meeting and discuss it in committee.