Chapel Lots Sold; 166 Apts En Route

Thomas Breen photo

At long last, construction begun at 842-848 Chapel.

Kenneth Boroson Architects

The proposed new mid-block complex at 842-848 Chapel, previously pitched by Northside, now pitched by CA Ventures.

A Chicago-based real estate company has purchased a long-vacant collection of Chapel Street properties for $6.75 million — and has begun the long-awaited construction of 166 new apartments at that site.

That’s the latest with 848 Chapel St., 842 Chapel St., 812 Chapel St., and 108 Orange St. on a rundown stretch on the border of downtown and the Ninth Square.

Paul Denz’s company Northside Development recently sold those properties to the company CA Ventures for $6.75 million. As of this week, CA Ventures has started the pre-construction work for two new residential developments that will add a total of 166 new market-rate apartments to the block. 

The strip of vacant lots and an empty commercial building on the south side of Chapel Street between Church Street and Orange Street used to be home to a Kresge department store, which burned down in 2007. The 842 – 848 Chapel St. lot has sat vacant ever since.

Construction crew on site Monday.

Until now, when a half-dozen hard-hatted construction workers hustled on Monday to put up a new chainlink fence as an excavator stood quietly behind them beside a large pile of bricks. 

Chapel bus stop, now moved.

Vacant lot at Orange/Chapel.

The blue-tarped chainlink fence surrounding the empty lot at the southwest corner of Orange and Chapel also now has a new sidewalk-facing sign taped to it. That sign states that the Chapel Street bus stop between Church and Orange has been temporarily moved as of Sunday because of a long-term construction project.”

At long last, could something finally be happening on this centrally located corridor that has sat vacant for so many years?

According to CA Ventures Vice President Andrew Savoy, Northside Development President Paul Denz, and city Deputy Economic Development Administrator Steve Fontana, the answer to that question is a resounding; Yes.

Back in December 2018, Paul Denz’s company won site plan approval to construct a new 120-unit apartment complex atop the former Kresge site. In March 2020, during the last in-person full Board of Alders meeting before the Covid-19 pandemic sent local legislative meetings online, the alders approved a Development and Land Disposition Agreement (DLDA) that would sell publicly-owned vacant lots at 848 Chapel St., 812 Chapel St., and 108 Orange St. for $1,057,500 to Denz’s company. Denz planned to combine the land included in that swap with adjacent properties that he already owned to build the new 120-unit apartment complex at 842 – 848 Chapel St., as well as an additional new 46-unit apartment complex at the southwest corner of Chapel and Orange Streets. And in an interview with the Independent this summer, Denz said that his company was likely looking to sell the project and the properties, given just how expensive it is to build right now with rising interest rates, supply chain disruptions, and the general high cost of construction.

Site Sold For $6.75M; Construction Begun

In separate Thursday afternoon phone interviews, Denz and Savoy confirmed that Denz’s company has now sold those properties to Savoy’s Chicago-based CA Ventures for a gross total of $6.75 million, out of which CA Ventures paid the city $1,0570,000 per the March 2020 DLDA

According to the city building permits database, on Thursday, Jennifer Fritz from CA Ventures received a building permit to install footings foundation and 2 story podium per plans .. for future building.. .permit needed for superstructure.”

That permit estimates that the construction cost for this portion of the project will be $2,258,000.

CA Ventures VP Andrew Savoy.

We are sticking more or less” with the plans that Denz’s company won for approval for for this site back in 2018 and 2020, Savoy told this reporter.

That is: CA Ventures still plans on constructing a new 46-unit apartment building at the corner of Orange and Chapel, and a new 120-unit apartment building at the site of the former Kresge department store on Chapel.

These buildings will have the same number of units, the same number of parking spaces, the facade looks the exact same from the outside” as what Denz won permission to build, he said.

He added that CA Ventures plans to complete construction on these two new buildings by the summer of 2024.

What will be different in CA Ventures’ plans for this site, Savoy said, is that the apartments will be slightly more efficient” than what Denz had initially intended to build. There will not be any three- or four-bedroom apartments in these buildings; they will have only a mix of studios, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments.

He said that this is CA Ventures’ first development project in New Haven.

Why did his company buy this project and decide to build here?

Just the name recognition of the school was very attractive to a few of our investors,” he said about Yale. That made it something that was interested to us.” Plus, he said, Denz had already won so many key approvals for this project.

At long last, he said, this development is finally happening.”

Thomas Breen file photo

Paul Denz (right) and Christopher Vigilante at a 2018 downtown management team meeting.

Denz told the Independent that his company decided to sell this project in part because of the time lost and cost increases of the pandemic.

We basically lost a little bit of steam and we lost a year and half, just like everyone else,” he said.

While we were sitting on the sidelines, waiting like everyone else, a few other projects were approved. And they were large projects.” By the time that his company started taking a look at how much it would cost to build this project as approved, he said, supply chain troubles and increased construction costs meant that we couldn’t get a good handle” on exactly how much it would cost. That led to trouble trying to get it financed.

He said that CA Ventures has a novel twist” on the project that makes this development a bit more geared towards students. I just saw a real competition” from the many other market-rate developments going up in the downtown and Wooster Square areas, Denz said, and these guys had a twist to it that I thought made sense, but it wasn’t something that I did.” So he decided to sell.

Melissa Bailey file photo

At the 2007 Kresge fire.

I think they’ll be really successful,” Denz said about the CA Ventures project.

City Deputy Economic Development Administrator Steve Fontana agreed.

We’re very pleased to have worked with Paul and Andrew on this project,” he said. The lots have been empty for a few years now. This is a central block for the city, a very visible one. … We’re so pleased that Andrew and his team discovered Paul and wanted to move the project to fruition.”

Fontana projected that these 166 new apartments will bring a jolt, a real infusion of energy” to the downtown/Ninth Square area. I think having people on the street who want to spend money is one of the best things you can do for retail activation.”

It really should put more pedestrians through here,” he continued. We’re just thrilled, because the Ninth Square really could use it.”

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