Restless West Haven residents look to progress on The Haven


WEST HAVEN – When Jared Mastej stands on the porch of his Center Street home, where he has lived since the 1980s, he notices that things have changed in the hallway on First Avenue which runs perpendicular to his house.

It’s impossible to miss the more than a dozen old houses lining the street with barricaded windows held behind a chain-link fence, and the roads leading to the water blocked off and closed to the public.

For years, the site – an upscale shopping center and plaza intended to generate economic income in the region – has been arguably the most high-profile development in the city, bringing residents to city council meetings and generating revenue. arguments on the viability of such a project. This resulted in frustration for residents, as well as a new tax district.


For Mastej, barricaded houses are what he wakes up to every morning. It’s something he’s dealt with for years, spanning two municipal governments. He manages, however, to take a more measured approach than many others in the city.

“It cleaned up the neighborhood with some of the stuff going on,” he said. “But I can’t see the water anymore.”

Mastej pointed to a pile of debris, piled up where Center Street connects First Avenue and Water Street.

Jaren Mastej, pictured on her front porch on Center Street in West Haven on July 16, 2021, lives down the street from The Haven shopping mall project.

Arnold Gold / Hearst Connecticut Media

Although residents have been promised that demolition will begin to make way for the massive project – The Haven – for about four years, residents note that not much has happened during that time.

A new neighborhood

Victoria Clifford, former candidate for the municipal council of the 3rd arrondissement, lives in Richards Place, with a building at the end of the street.

“It shouldn’t take that long,” she said. “It’s just a heartbreaking thing.”

Clifford said she and her neighbors have been demanding responses from the city and the developer for years, but at this point she feels resigned that there won’t be any progress anytime soon.

“After a while you’re just fed up,” she said.

House next to First Avenue in West Haven slated for demolition as part of The Haven shopping center project pictured July 16, 2021.

House next to First Avenue in West Haven slated for demolition as part of The Haven shopping center project pictured July 16, 2021.

Arnold Gold / Hearst Connecticut Media

Representatives for Simon Premium Outlets, the developer, did not respond to a request for comment. However, city officials believe progress has been made in Hartford and behind closed doors that could bring the developer back to West Haven so residents can have their questions answered.

Governor Ned Lamont signed a law granting a special tax district for the plots where the property is supposed to be built. Lee Tiernan, the town’s lawyer, said the developer asked him to get a better deal on the construction.

A house on First Avenue in West Haven slated for demolition as part of The Haven shopping center project pictured on July 16, 2021.

A house on First Avenue in West Haven slated for demolition as part of The Haven shopping center project pictured on July 16, 2021.

Arnold Gold / Hearst Connecticut Media

“The only purpose is that they can float income bonds, and those income bonds will be at an interest rate lower than standard commercial interest rates,” Tiernan said. “If they float the bonds, you’re now using the bond money to take those houses down. It wouldn’t surprise me.

State Representative Dorinda Borer D-West Haven said she understands the developer is waiting for the state to approve the Special Tax District, but now expects there to be more. progress on the site.

“The delegation asked the promoter, as part of the advancement of the legislation, to come back to the city and provide an up-to-date schedule and information,” she said. “They have to be at the forefront of communication.”

City council chairman Ron Quagliani said he expects a meeting with developers to be included on the August council meeting agenda.

Tiernan said the next step for the city, now that the special tax district has been approved, is to reach an interlocal agreement with the developer on how this tax district will be managed. He said he expects it will take a little over a week for this agreement to be signed.

He said he understands the neighbors are restless, but there were several obstacles and challenges that needed to be addressed first.

“People want to know when Tiffany (& Co.) and Gucci stores show up and they want the exact date and time, but I can’t tell you,” he said. “But I can tell you that it continues to evolve in the direction that the developers have announced.”

Mayor Nancy Rossi said she felt the same eagerness as the residents.

“No one wants this to start more than me, and no one has put in more hours than me or my team,” she said.

Borer, however, said she believed the residents had been particularly patient.

“I would say the people of West Haven have been more than patient,” she said. “Obviously the project has encountered challenges, but I am impatient and hope that with this legislation it will be a stepping stone to take it to the next level. “

Victoria Clifford, pictured on her front porch on Richards Place in West Haven on July 16, 2021, lives down the street from The Haven shopping center project.

Victoria Clifford, pictured on her front porch on Richards Place in West Haven on July 16, 2021, lives down the street from The Haven shopping center project.

Arnold Gold / Hearst Connecticut Media

Neighbors in the First Avenue neighborhood confirmed their concern and skepticism about the project.

“It’s the slowest project ever,” said Mary-Beth Prete, who lives on May Street. “I walk past it every day and I can’t see anything happening there at all.”

Hine Street resident Diana McManus said she had to explain the construction to friends from out of town.

“It’s a shame,” she said. “I have no explanation as to why it is taking so long and what it will really end up being.”

Jeanie DeLoughery, a Beach Street resident in the First Avenue neighborhood, said she believed the construction had negatively affected the value of her home. Plus, she said, she doesn’t think an upscale mall is a good idea for the area.

Clifford said she believes an upscale mall wouldn’t work in this area for the same reason a high-end grocer wouldn’t work: it’s outside the expected income range for residents .

“I would like someone to prove me wrong,” she said.

Some local business owners, however, believe the project still has potential.

“I understand how long it takes to do anything, no matter something this big and right on the water. Lots of moving parts, ”said Laura Tudisco, owner of Hair on the Avenue on Captain Thomas Boulevard.

Tudisco, who has family on First Avenue, said she believes residents should be more optimistic.

“It will be a game-changer for our city,” she said.

Fatma Ozbay, co-owner of West Haven Pizza and Deli on the corner of First Avenue and North Street, a few blocks from the construction site, said she was excited about what she hopes will be a godsend for business.

“We can’t wait for it to open,” she said.

[email protected]


About Joel Simmons

Check Also

Pakistani Rupee (PKR) Definition | Global Currency Online

What is the Pakistani Rupee (PKR)? The Pakistani Rupee, abbreviated as PKR, is the national …