Demolition could begin soon on the properties acquired to make way for an upscale outlet mall on the shoreline.
The Haven project will redevelop a blighted area by the waterfront, create hundreds of new jobs and generate millions in tax revenue for his city, West Haven Mayor Ed O’Brien said.
Many of the houses on First Avenue and Water Street are already boarded up. On Monday, a family that has lived in a home on First Avenue started to pack up and move out.
“We’re just boxing up what we know we can take with us to remind us and everything else is just in our heads,” Tanesha said.
It’s moving week for her family after her parents reached a settlement with the City of West Haven.
“It comes to a point where I assumed it was happy enough for some time of medium,” she said, “but truthfully you can’t be paid for your memories you built with your family, you can’t be paid for the time that you invested in a home.”
The city sold Tanesha’s home and the neighboring boarded up properties to the private developer of The Haven.
“I know they’re really starting to ramp things up,” O’Brien said, “but we don’t have a date of when the demolition is going to start and construction, but I believe it should be very soon.”
At the corner of 1st Avenue and Elm Street, the owners of Nick’s Luncheonette say they have been able to stay open much longer than expected. Until further notice from the developer of The Haven, they plan to continue serving their customers.
“They’re so excited that we’re still open,” Alicia Barbagiovanni, a waitress, said.
For now, Barbagiovanni is thrilled to still have her job.
“It helped my family so much,” she said. “My son just finished his first year of college so it’s really, really good.”
Mayor O’Brien said The Haven will come with hundreds of new retail jobs. He told NBC Connecticut he still cannot announce the stores that plan to move in.
“There’s a lot of positive,” he said, “tax revenue, it’s going to bring enormous tax revenue and it’s going to clean up a blighted area.”
But the owner of a First Avenue home is holding out and fighting back with an eminent domain lawsuit.
Attorneys from the Institute for Justice who are representing the McGinnity family said The Haven could become just like the Kelo v. New London eminent domain fight that made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. They fear the West Haven project might not generate the promised results.
Tanesha said her family is planning to move to the Stratford area.
“I do hope, for the sake of all the families and everything that we’ve gone through up to this point that it’s not a situation that’s like New London,” Tanesha said.