TPA provided civil engineering and landscape architecture design services to support a 129-unit residential infill development on vacant parcels in the Westville neighborhood of New Haven. Formerly owned by entrepreneur Frank Perrotti Jr., the site had not been actively used since the closing of the 500 Blake Street Café in 2006. Portions of the associated parking lot remained either in use by businesses along Whalley Avenue – or blocked off by jersey barricades to discourage access.
Working with the project architect and Owner, TPA evaluated the feasibility of rehabilitating the former restaurant space as part of the proposed development. However, the extensive deterioration of the building made it infeasible to reuse. Furthermore, its location at the signalized intersection of Blake Street and Valley Street was the most logical location to create a dedicated curb cut to serve the development. Creating significant traffic movements along Whalley Avenue or Tour Avenue was deemed to be an unacceptable outcome.
The presence of the adjacent West River was another variable affecting site design. Flood controls installed by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1992 governed portions of the site within the mapped base flood elevation. TPA did extensive topographic surface modeling and grading studies to confirm that site development would not adversely affect its flood fighting capacity.
Accommodating the proposed building and 99 surface parking spaces required an ongoing dialog between the Owner, project team, City of New Haven, and neighborhood stakeholders. This project was the first to be evaluated using new BA2 zone regulations pertaining to the Westville Village, and TPA was able to guide the project through the process as an “of-right” use requiring no relief or variances. When the City requested that parking be eliminated from flood wall easement areas, TPA was able to propose a mix of car-sharing and bicycle parking alternatives that met both the City’s and Owner’s needs.
This iterative process also led to the creation of a community walking and biking trail along the existing riverwalk. With views of the West River and West Rock, the space is intended to create an inviting gateway to the neighborhood as well as Edgewood Park beyond. A public food market, exterior seating areas, and landscape improvements will provide a sense of place and purpose.
Perspective Renderings by Newman Architects