Higher One’s Staying In Town
(7/2/2010) (from New Haven Independent)
by Melissa Bailey | Jul 2, 2010
Fresh off of a successful stock exchange debut, New Haven’s fast-growing financial services company is keeping 170 jobs in the city—and helping give new life to a long-abandoned gun factory.
Higher One, which made $36 million by going public on the New York Stock Exchange last month, will be the first tenants at 275 Winchester Ave. when the iconic former Winchester Repeating Arms factory building is redeveloped into office space, Mayor John DeStefano announced Thursday.
DeStefano revealed the news at a press conference Thursday in City Hall, where he gave an update about the next fiscal year. He called the development a sign of economic strength the city, at a time when the state is last in the nation in job growth.
Higher One handles financial services for students at 650 colleges and universities. It employs 170 people at an office at 25 Science Park, and is looking to hire 30 more in New Haven. The company has been eying office space to accommodate its expansion.
Meanwhile, two developers have been eying renovation of the building across the street.
The parties are now closing in on a joint destiny.
The Science Park Development Corporation (SPDC) is moving forward with a plan to redevelop 275 Winchester (pictured), and is counting on Higher One to be part of the plan—both as a tenant and as a developer, according to SPDC President David Silverstone.
The goal is to convert the crumbling factory into offices and homes, keeping the historic building intact, Silverstone said. The property, at the corner of Munson and Winchester, has been abandoned since 1994. It’s known as Tract A. It comprises 600,000 square feet spanning 7 acres, is the largest undeveloped space in Science Park.
This week, the SPDC submitted paperwork to lay the groundwork for the building’s new future. SPCD applied to the City Plan Commission to add Tract A to Science Park’s Planned Development District (PDD). The PDD currently covers most of Science Park, Silverstone said. The PDD groups a bunch of adjacent properties together, so that they may be developed in a comprehensive way, Silverstone explained.
“It allows you to do sensible things—things like consolidate parking on one site for many sites,” he said. He’s asking the city zoning powers to amend the current PDD to include Tract A.
SPDC, which owns the land at 275 Winchester, is in negotiations with three developers on a ground lease and development agreement. According to current discussions, Higher One would team up with Forest City Enterprises and Carter Winstanley to develop a first phase of the project—150,000 square feet of offices, which would become Higher One’s new home.
They plan to do the renovations “in a way that preserves the building,” and with the help of historic preservation tax credits. His goal is to start work on the building in the late fall, and reopen the building in January 2012.
Silverstone said the deal has not yet been finalized, but he’s “very optimistic” it will go through.
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