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West Haven News

Posted on: May 6, 2022

Rossi considers fining The Haven developer for blight

Water St. Blight 031 II (Small)

PHOTO — From left, West Haven Planning Director Christopher Soto, Mayor Nancy R. Rossi, Executive Assistant Louis P. Esposito Jr. and Public Works Commissioner Tom J. McCarthy inspect the Water Street area of The Haven development for blight violations during an emergency meeting Friday, May 6. The city is considering fining the project developer for not cleaning up and maintaining the properties it owns along Water Street, which is temporarily closed, as part of the long-planned luxury outlet center. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)

WEST HAVEN, May 6, 2022 — Mayor Nancy R. Rossi said the city is considering fining The Haven developer for not cleaning up and maintaining the properties it owns along Water Street as part of the long-planned luxury outlet center.

Rossi’s warning came during an “emergency” meeting with city and public safety officials at the Water Street project site Friday, May 6, to discuss options for holding the developer, Simon Premium Outlets of Morristown, New Jersey, responsible for the area’s rise in blight and traffic issues since the street’s temporary closure for The Haven’s demolition phase two years ago.

The temporary closure, approved by the city’s Board of Police Commissioners, was expected to pave the way for the demolition of several existing commercial buildings acquired by the developer as part of The Haven South Municipal Development Plan. The area is composed of 55 properties bounded by First Avenue, Elm Street, Water Street, Center Street, Richards Place, Main Street and Bayview Place.

While some buildings have been razed since April 27, 2020, The Haven Development Co. has yet to submit plans to the city to build the proposed $200 million, 261,182-square-foot waterfront development.

The development company is led by John P. Dionis, Simon’s vice president of development, and Matt Armstrong, the executive vice president of The Haven Group LLC, based in Dallas.

During the morning meeting, which included an inspection of Water Street, Rossi said the city has not heard from the developer in more than three months, despite repeated calls to Dionis by city officials to discuss blight and traffic concerns.

The meeting was attended by Rossi Executive Assistant Louis P. Esposito Jr., City Council Chairman Peter V. Massaro, Public Works Commissioner Tom J. McCarthy, Planning Director Christopher Soto, West Haven Fire Department Chief James P. O’Brien, and police traffic Sgt. Joseph D’Amato and spokesman Sgt. Patrick Buturla.

Rossi expressed disappointment and frustration over Dionis’ lack of communication with the city, saying she plans to give the developer 15 days to respond and take action on blight.

Soto, who leads the Department of Planning and Development, said the city will enforce blight violations “based on The Haven’s inactivity and the developer’s unwillingness to maintain the properties.”

Soto said enforcement measures would include fines “to protect the health and safety of the surrounding neighborhood.”

Rossi said she also wants to temporarily reopen Water Street by June 1 to reduce the area’s traffic congestion during the summer months.

D’Amato and Soto said that to temporarily reopen the street, which connects to Main and Elm streets, the city must secure the area with fencing and install a guardrail at the bend of Main and Water streets.

But first, the city must receive police commission approval to temporarily reopen Water Street, Rossi noted.

According to the developer, The Haven, when completed, will encompass 26 waterfront acres featuring dozens of luxury retail shops, restaurants and a promenade. The project is expected to generate between 800 and 1,200 jobs and several million dollars in municipal tax revenue and fees, the developer has said.

Water St. Blight 031 II (Small)

From left, West Haven Planning Director Christopher Soto, Mayor Nancy R. Rossi, Executive Assistant Louis P. Esposito Jr. and Public Works Commissioner Tom J. McCarthy inspect the Water Street area of The Haven development for blight violations during an emergency meeting Friday, May 6. The city is considering fining the project developer for not cleaning up and maintaining the properties it owns along Water Street, which is temporarily closed, as part of the long-planned luxury outlet center. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)

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