The city has reached a tentative development agreement that would pave the way for a transformative $100 million life-sciences incubator in the heart of downtown New Haven.
Developer Winstanley Enterprises LLC of Concord, Mass. has proposed to build 500,000 square feet of laboratory and life-sciences incubation space at a new address: 101 College Street.
“We been in conversations with [Winstanley principal] Carter Winstanley and the state for some time, and given everything that’s going on with COVID-19, we’re very grateful that the state and Carter are willing to move forward with this project,” said Mayor Justin Elicker Monday afternoon.
The 101 College Street project was first reported Jan. 29 in New Haven BIZ. That was before the coronavirus pandemic hit, dealing a body blow to economic-development projects in Connecticut and around the world.
“It feels now that everything has slowed down, but at the same time we are excited about the economic opportunity that this will provide for New Haven and enthusiastic about the conversation that we’re going to be having with the Board of Alders in the coming months about the project.”
The development agreement, which was presented to the city’s Board of Alders Monday night, outlines construction of the large-scale private development and the public infrastructure needed to make the project possible. The board accepted the document for review and further discussion.
“It’s important that we get this project rolling because it takes a long time to get things approved,” Elicker explained. “But we’re grateful to the other parties for continuing to willing to move forward — even with some of the uncertainty that exists right now.”
The project, to be built over the existing Rt. 34 connector opposite 100 College Street, would include approximately 100,000 square feet of incubator space for life-sciences enterprises that have advanced beyond the startup stage and have begun to hire workers who need more laboratory and office space to grow their companies.
Much of the remainder of the space in the building would be conventional office and meeting space for the Yale medical school and a “mature” life-sciences tenant or tenants.
The project is being developed by Winstanley, which has assembled financing partners and would own the real estate. The development agreement outlines the private construction and public infrastructure required for the project consistent with the city’s Downtown Crossing project. The latter is the city’s long-term plan to reconnect the medical district and Hill neighborhood with the central business district by converting the Rt. 34 connector into urban boulevards and new city streets.
Construction could begin as early as this summer if various permits, land transfers and easements can be granted and if the coronavirus pandemic does not cause additional delays. Winstanley says construction would take approximately two years.
The incubator would be managed by a third-party operator, which in addition to serving as a leasing agent and property manager would provide services such as educational programming and regular networking opportunities both to resident companies and individual researchers and potential employees.
The developer envisions three principal tenants in the new building: one or more “mature” life and bioscience companies; the Yale School of Medicine; and an incubator supporting technology transfer transfer and nascent (presumably life sciences-related) businesses in need of early support services.
The site is across College Street from one of Winstanley’s other well-known developments: the 513,000-square-foot Class A life-sciences building completed in 2015 for Alexion Pharmaceuticals at 100 College St. Like that existing structure, the proposed 101 College building would also be constructed atop the existing Rt. 34 connector. The real estate is owned by the state of Connecticut.
According to the development agreement, the project’s “strategic location is near the York Street Campus of Yale-New Haven Health System and the Yale School of Medicine. Development in this area will continue to solidify New Haven’s global standing and prominence in key economic sectors such as the life sciences, biotechnology, health-care technologies and the neurosciences.”
The 101 College Street project is projected to create a “substantial” number of construction jobs and, when completed, some 700 to 1,000 permanent jobs at all skill levels. The document submitted to the Board of Alders projects the creation of more than 3,000 jobs throughout the region’s economy that would generate more than $250 million in wages. The Connecticut Economic Resource Center calculates that each job in the bioscience sector supports an additional 2.9 jobs throughout the larger economy.
As part of the agreement, Winstanley has agreed to contribute between $400,000 and $500,000 to Together, We Grow, a new city-created fund that supports a “wide-ranging inclusive growth agenda” including improved access to jobs for underserved communities.