Face the Facts

Face the Facts: The Haven Development in West Haven Won't Happen

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NBC Connecticut's Kyle Jones joins Mike Hydeck to discuss her report on The Haven development in West Haven.

Kyle broke the story this week that after years of delays, the project is not happening.

Mike Hydeck: So what finally killed that project and what happens now? NBC Connecticut's Kyle Jones broke the story this week. She joins us now. Kyle, for those who aren't familiar, give us a quick background on the project. And at one point, residents were all concerned about eminent domain here, right?

Kyle Jones: Yeah, that's right. The luxury mall was proposed back in 2013 under then Mayor John Picard here in West Haven, and around 2016 is when all of those homeowners and businesses started selling off their property to the developer to make way for the mall. Some of them did fight back, and some of them had attorneys and went to court. The city had prepared to use eminent domain, they say that they had all of the paperwork ready to use it for those who were holding out. But in the end, they did not use that. All of the homeowners, and all of those businesses did end up selling the property to make way for the mall. And it sat here ever since.

Mike Hydeck: Now, you can see the chain link fence behind you, the empty homes that have been sitting there for a long time, which made everyone angry and upset. So about a year and a half ago, it actually looked like the development was finally getting underway. What happened there?

Kyle Jones: Yeah, so a year and a half ago, as you mentioned, the Connecticut legislature approved a special tax district for West Haven, which would allow special financing rates for the developer to move forward with the mall. And then there was also some demolition that happened. Some of the industrial buildings along the waterfront were taken down. And what we know about that demolition part, that was not the developer, that was the city who fronted about $1.3 million for demolition there for that part. So that's what the movement was back then. And now we hear that the project is not going to happen.

Mike Hydeck: So what's next for the city? Do they have any plans for this site? Are they going to demolish more buildings or what happens next?

Kyle Jones: So it gets a little tricky, because the property, now that everybody has sold out to the developer, it's owned privately, so the city cannot make any plans for it. It's in the hands of the developers. So the city says that they are working on blight fines, which is going to be the next step. That's about $100 a day for the properties that are here. There are some properties, about nine of them, the developer has put in the applications and they were approved for demolition. So nine properties will come down, but the developer has to pay for them. So they have not paid to get those permits yet so they can't take them down until those permits are paid. So there's a lot of talk about what happens next. And that's one thing that Mayor Rossi said is that, unfortunately there is nothing yet that she can tell the city about what's going to happen next because we don't know. We do know that they plan to sell it. But we don't know when that's going to happen and we don't know when the demolition is going to happen. So it's a big holding pattern right now.

Mike Hydeck: NBC Connecticut's Kyle Jones broke the story. Kyle, thanks so much for your reporting and joining us on Face the Facts.

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