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Dale Kroop, Director
Economic Development and Neighborhood Revitalization
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Hamden, CT, 06518
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Mutual Housing Association of South Central CT Selected as Developer for the Hamden’s Michael J. Whalen Middle School

5/6/2015

 

The Town of Hamden is pleased to announce that it will enter into a purchase and sales agreement for the redevelopment of the former Michael J. Whalen Middle School. The Mutual Housing Association of South Central CT (AKA NeighborWorks New Horizons) will create mixed-income rental housing with badly needed community space, a solution for this vacant and blighted property.

As part of a Consent Order signed in 2003, the Town of Hamden, the Regional Water Authority, and the Olin Corporation have been working collectively with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to clean up soil contamination in the neighborhood, stemming from fill material that was dumped in a former landfill dating back to the early 1900s.  Encompassing over 100 acres in southern Hamden, the affected Newhall neighborhood has undergone a considerable transformation which involved remediation efforts for residential properties, Rochford Field, Villano Park, the Hamden Business Incubator (formerly Newhall Community Center), and the former Michael J. Whalen Middle School.

Through efforts by the State of CT and then Olin Corporation from 2010-2012, soil contamination for over 240 affected residential properties in the Newhall neighborhood has been cleaned up.  The next step in the redevelopment progression of the Newhall neighborhood will be the renovation of the Michael J. Whalen Middle School, itself, which will take place in collaboration with the Mutual Housing Association and the Regional Water Authority.

The Regional Water Authority began the removal of contaminated soil behind the Middle School between 2000 and 2003 and then again in 2013. Most recently in 2015, there has been soil cleanup behind the area near the parking lot at the Hamden Business Incubator.  Currently, the Town of Hamden, in partnership with the Hamden Economic Development Corporation, is in the midst of a similar soil removal and capping process in the rebuilding of Rochford Field and Villano Park. 

Abandoned in 2006, the former Hamden Middle School has generally remained vacant.  It has been used sparingly for storage and community meetings and it has been utilized by Artspace New Haven, Bob’s Stores, and Yale University for temporary purposes.  As the remediation process have taken place throughout the Newhall neighborhood, the Town has continued to seek an appropriate, permanent use for the Middle School property.  Requests for Proposals (RFPs) to develop the site have been made public on prior occasions, drawing interest from Stone Academy and several schools in New Haven.  However, until a recent study was completed in 2013 deeming the interior conditions relatively safe, developers had shied away from committing to development.  According to Dale Kroop, Hamden’s Director of Economic and Community Development, the environmental study of the building was critical  because it gave prospective developers a better idea of the existing conditions and estimate of potential costs.  “Now the Town and the developer understands what they are dealing with and what the and costs truly are”, stated Dale Kroop from the Town of Hamden.

 The Mutual Housing Association is best known in Hamden for the Highwood Square project on Dixwell Avenue that renovated the abandoned Johnson Wholesale Perfume Co. and the adjacent Nabisco Bakery site.  The Mutual Housing Association aims to incorporate several several of the needs that the community made known during the Town’s 2006-7 Design Charrette and Re-Use Study.  Plans include a (proposed) total of 99 mostly one and two-bedroom housing units 57 of which transform the original classroom portion of the old Middle School.  Additionally, 42 other units as 2-3 unit clustered residential buildings will be constructed in the land-area bordered by Newhall Street.  This concept will reflect the Town’s current zoning regulations.  Town recreation and community programs will resume in a newly renovated Community Building at the site as well as on the athletic fields behind the main structure. A community space will include potential educational programs as well as basketball and other recreational services.  Deemed financially unfeasible to restore, the auditorium and cafeteria will be demolished which will make room for a green-space common area, a community garden, and accompanying sidewalks and plant life, tying together the entire renovation project.

Future tax revenue will be realized for the Town of Hamden through an agreement with The Mutual Housing Association that will be negotiated in the coming months.  The details regarding grounds and parking maintenance responsibilities have yet to be finalized. Construction is planned for Winter/Spring 2017 with completion in 2018. Upon completion of all of the ongoing projects, the total investment for the Newhall Community will be close to $100 Million dollars

For questions, contact Dale Kroop, Director of Hamden’s Economic and Community Development Department by phone at (203) 287-7030, or by email at dkroop@hamden.com.

For further information about The Mutual Housing Association, visit their website at http://www.nwnh.net/ or call (203) 562-4514.

For further information about the Newhall Remediation history go to www.newhallinfo.org

 

 


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