NEW HAVEN – Northland Investment Corporation, owners of the dilapidated Church Street South low-income apartment complex in New Haven, is largely responsible for its demise. Yet, the city has agreed to a deal with the company to build a new mixed-use development on the site.
Mayor Toni N. Harp (D-New Haven) explained why it was best for the city to strike an agreement with Northland.
“We would have to find a developer, who would have to buy the property for them at market rate and it would cost a lot of money. It would take a lot of time,” she said.
And, time is of the essence. The city’s application for a $30 million grant to rebuild on the property must be submitted to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development by June 28.
“A decision was made that you go with a developer, who owns the property, that has a track record in other places of doing an excellent job, being an excellent manager,” said Harp.
Most current residents were of the same opinion regarding Northland taking the lead.
“If they can rebuild it and make it nicer for us, who live here, I think it would be a good idea,” said Dillon Raffone, who says numerous friends were forced to move out because dangerous mold and moisture that developed over the years.
Harp says that while the city was initially very critical of Northland for the disrepair Church Street South had fallen into, the company has proven to her, by helping relocate residents at the the company's expense, that they are committed to righting their wrongs.
“I think we've got to trust that we can work together as we move forward,” said Harp.
Amy Marx, an attorney for New Haven Legal Assistance, whose agency represent many former and current residents, believes the deal has to be structured in a way that holds Northland accountable every step of the way.
Demolition of the apartments is scheduled to begin as soon as July.