Out of the ground emerges the beginning of a new economic development project consisting of 225 apartments with a mixed use component on the lower level in this September photo. Mixed use includes retail and a restaurant on Washington Avenue here in North Haven, Ct. (Photo courtesy of First Selectman Mike Freda Twitter page)
Two large housing complexes are already being constructed on Washington Avenue in the town of North Haven, Conn., which also became home to several new businesses in 2022.
But First Selectman Mike Freda, who has long prioritized economic development in the community northeast of New Haven, has even more ambitious goals for the neighborhood in 2023.
He told the New Haven Register that residents can expect development at several Washington Avenue locations this year.
The sites Freda is eyeing include properties adjacent to the entrance to North Haven's Amazon campus and a 4-acre lot across from the town's fairgrounds.
"On the south side and the north side of the Amazon driveway, leading into [the complex], I am currently working on two projects there that will materialize sometime in the middle of 2023," he said.
Freda added that he had promised confidentiality to those involved and was unable to share details about most of the developments, but he did tell the Register that North Haven residents might expect one new retail plaza.
"On the northside [of the Amazon driveway], we will be looking for a retail plaza there, with stores and perhaps a restaurant," he explained. "On the south side, you know, there's a variety of different opportunities that I can't really share."
Corridor Already Seeing New Construction
Several building projects are already under way in the area, the New Haven news source reported Jan. 2.
Connex Credit Union, which currently has a location at 412 Washington Ave., is building a new headquarters on an adjacent lot, while on a property behind the future office building, a total of 88 apartments are under construction, Freda said.
Just across the street, another new apartment complex also is in the works that will feature 225 units among three buildings, one of which is designed to be a mixed-use structure that could feature stores or restaurants.
Twenty percent of the apartments will meet Connecticut affordability requirements, he noted.
The Register reported that in addition to the housing developments, several new businesses opened on Washington Avenue in 2022.
Island Cho, which serves Trinidadian and Jamaican dishes, brought a taste of the Caribbean to North Haven last summer, while the Five Guys burger-and-fries chain recently opened its doors to customers in the plaza at 146 Washington Ave. Among the more unusual developments along the North Haven corridor include Xperiment VR, a virtual reality gaming arcade that opened in the Stop & Shop Plaza.
Regardless of Washington Avenue's recent successes, though, Freda said he is not yet satisfied.
"I am fully and totally driven to do better and get more done," he told the New Haven news site.
In addition to pursuing new developments, Freda wants to see vacant business spaces occupied.
"[At] the south end of the Stop & Shop Plaza, there's roughly 80,000 sq. ft. of vacancy," he explained. "We're trying to figure out a solution for that."
The now vacant space at 270 Washington Ave. was once home, at separate times, to both a Donato's and a Howard Johnson's restaurant, but Freda is aiming to get a business to move in there.
Other locations he hopes to fill include the neighboring sites at 575 Washington, once home to a produce store, and 585 Washington, a former café.
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