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NEW HAVEN-Interested developers have until April 1 to respond to a Request for Qualifications issued by the City of New Haven for the former New Haven Veterans Memorial Coliseum site. City officials say the nearly 4.5-acre parcel represents the largest remaining development site in Downtown New Haven.

According to Tony Bialecki, deputy director for the city’s economic development department, the city would prefer to have a mixed-use development built there with significant density in order to generate tax revenue and jobs for New Haven residents. At present the site is being leased out by the city as a parking lot.

The New Haven Veterans Memorial Coliseum, which was built in 1972, was demolished by implosion on Jan. 20, 2007. The city, according to the RFQ, will consider a master developer or multiple developers for the project. A key component of the redevelopment project will be the inclusion of a new home for the famed Long Wharf Theatre on a portion of the parcel. The new Long Wharf Theatre is part of the ongoing Gateway Development Project, a $256-million initiative that also includes relocating Gateway Community College to the downtown district as well as the development of housing and retail. The state of Connecticut has committed a total of $30 million in bond financing for the estimated $50-million Long Wharf project.

The city states in its RFQ that the “the city has a strong interest in mixed-use development, which will be highlighted by Long Wharf Theatre’s future presence on the site and pedestrian-friendly retail uses on the street level as well as other retail and office uses. The city also has an interest in architecture and buildings that reflect the scale of adjacent uses, use the site’s surrounding assets, and develop an active, varied, and interesting ‘street wall’ facade along George, South Orange and State streets.”

The project site is adjacent to the Knights of Columbus headquarters building. Bialecki says that the city is in negotiations to sell the Knights of Columbus, which employs 700 workers in the city, a one-half acre parcel near the project site. The organization, which operates a major insurance company that posted more than $6.5 billion in sales in 2007, also has the right of first refusal on another nearby 1.5-acre parcel. The former coliseum property is located in the city’s Ninth Square District near I-95, I-91 and the Union Station.

Bialecki says that after April 1, it is likely the city would form an ad-hoc committee to review the submissions and then make a recommendation to Mayor John DeStefano Jr. and the Board of Aldermen within the next two to three months.

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