NEW HAVEN — The Dixwell Plaza shopping center has been languishing — largely empty — right in the center of the city’s Dixwell neighborhood for so long that some people may not notice its condition anymore.
But it’s hoped that people will notice what’s slated to replace it.
And that — the potentially transformative, $185 million ConnCAT Place development project anchored by a seven-story, mixed-use building with 184 apartments, a 259-space underground parking garage, a two-story performing arts center, a public plaza, a retail building, 13 townhouses and a 5-story mixed use building — suddenly is a lot closer to happening.
The developers, ConnCorp. and Yves-Georges Joseph, now have a solid tool they need to line up the rest of the funding to take the “for us, by us” idea — proposed by prominent members of the African-American community as a new anchor for one of New Haven’s most storied Black neighborhoods — from the drafting board to construction.
The City Plan Commission unanimously approved the project this week, granting separate approvals for its site plan, a special permit for a parking facility with more than 200 spaces, and for 13 townhouses to be built within what primarily is a commercial zone.
Commission Chairwoman Leslie Radcliffe said there were many ways the project could be a game-changer both for Dixwell and the city.
“Six-hundred permanent jobs and 400 construction jobs,” Radcliffe said, nodding her head in appreciation on the Zoom call where the commission currently conducts its meetings. “One hundred eighty-four units and 13 townhomes …”
“Arts and culture,” she continued, pointing out that until now, “the most we’ve had” in Dixwell — once a storied strip of Black-owned restaurants, shops and jazz clubs — “is the Stetson Libary … and the Elks Club.”