James Street Site Clean-up Plan A Go

by Markeshia Ricks

Developers looking to transform the former CT Transit bus depot into a multimillion-dollar tech and innovation campus can start moving dirt this month — to demolish a huge piece of the existing building and to cart away contaminated dirt.

City Plan commissioners OK’d a site plan and coastal site plan during its meeting at City Hall Wednesday that would allow the developers, District NHV LLC.to tear down 95,000 square feet of the existing building and to remove petroleum contaminated soil at the property at 470 James St.

The planned $20 million technology and innovation center, also known as “DISTRICT,” is the brainchild of NHV LLC partners David Salinas and Eric O’Brien. They run the Digital Surgeons, a design and innovation firm, and the area’s CrossFit gym, respectively; the two companies are located in the former Robby Lens complex across the street.

Key parts of the plan still need approval from the Board of Alders, which is expected to happen soon.

Meanwhile, the remediation can start thanks to a vote by the State Bond Commission last month to send New Haven $5.5 million to clean the polluted land, which the state owns and is transferring to the developers through the city.

Fuss & O’Neill Inc. engineer Ron Bomengen handled the remediaton pitch to commissioners Wednesday night. He said once the building is torn down, the plan is to dig down about eight feet and remove that soil from the site, which will be saved to use likely under the new parking lot that will be constructed during a different phase of the project. Once that is done, the soil at the eight foot level, which is the most contaminated soil, would be removed and trucked out to be disposed.

“Future phases will come back with a nice designed [conceptual drawings] for the redevelopment of this site which will include some bike racks and some trails all sorts of things,” Bomengen said. “It will be a much better site than it is today.”

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