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NEW HAVEN, CT-A $230-million Downtown redevelopment plan is taking shape, thanks to an agreement that calls for the state to provide $180 million in bond financing for the project. The Downtown redevelopment project will include a new $140-million campus for Gateway Community College on the sites of the former Macy’s and Malley’s department stores on the corner of George and Church streets.

The two retail locations have been closed for more than a decade. The college’s Long Wharf campus at 60 Sargent Dr. will be relocated to the new campus upon completion of construction. Gateway’s North Haven campus at 88 Bassett Rd. will be transferred in stages.

In addition, Phase I of the plan calls for the construction of a new Long Wharf Theater at a cost of $60 million. The theater will be relocated from 222 Sargent Dr. to the current site of the shuttered New Haven Coliseum. The coliseum will be demolished and a new 500-seat proscenium theater and a 300-seat specialized theater will be built in its place. Long Wharf’s lease at its present location, which features a 484-seat main stage and a 199-seat Stage II, expires in 2010, according to state officials. The City of New Haven will be responsible for demolishing the coliseum, which closed in September 2002 with more than $1 million in debt and in need of $30 million worth of repair work. The demolition of the facility is projected to cost approximately $6 million. In addition, the city plans to contribute funding for parking development, site preparation and a new urban park to be located in the project area.

The state has pledged $30 million for the relocation of the Long Wharf Theatre, which recently celebrated its 40th anniversary. The theatre will be responsible for raising the funds necessary to finance the balance of the project.

Phase I of the redevelopment plan for Downtown New Haven also calls for the construction of new parking garages and streetscape improvements. Phase II includes a 300-room hotel and conference center, 280 residential housing units and more than 54,000 sf of small street level retail space and additional parking.

To get the projects moving, the state has agreed to provide $17 million in initial financing prior to the end of September of this year so that Gateway Community College and the city can begin site and design work. City officials are hoping that demolition work can begin in the next 12 months and that building of the new college campus and Long Wharf Theatre can get started sometime within the next three years.

“This milestone project will bring new arts and education energy to downtown New Haven, helping to define it for years to come,” Gov. John Rowland says. “This project will further help Gateway Community College educate students for the jobs of tomorrow. It will also create new tax revenue which helps keep taxes low for New Haven residents,” Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. adds.

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