Yale to Transform Dilapidated Building in Downtown New Haven into Vibrant Home of the Yale School of Art

Yale will soon renovate a dilapidated downtown building in the Chapel West District–vacant since 1986–as part of an extensive program to upgrade its arts facilities, University Vice President and Secretary Linda Koch Lorimer announced today. Yale completed the purchase of the building at 1156 Chapel Street earlier this week.

“An important goal of our long-range planning for the arts at Yale is to maximize the benefits for the City of New Haven,” Secretary Lorimer said. “This commitment means that an empty, deteriorating building in an important location will become an integral part of the Yale arts that contribute so much to our City’s cultural magnetism and energy. The vitality of the Chapel West District will be boosted by the rebirth of this prominent address.”

“We have been developing ambitious plans to ensure that Yale’s arts buildings match the quality of the preeminent schools and collections they hold,” added Yale Provost Alison Richard. “Significant investment by the University in these assets will also enhance the valuable role the arts at Yale play in New Haven’s cultural life and tourism.”

Yale plans to rebuild the former site of the Jewish Community Center and transform it into the home of the Yale School of Art and the undergraduate Department of Art. The conversion of this building to University ownership makes it eligible for payments in lieu of taxes, PILOT, from the State of Connecticut to the City. Once the renovations are complete, the PILOT payments are expected to total approximately $325,000 annually, a ten-fold increase over the current taxes of $31,800 generated by the property.

In addition to the 60,000-square-foot building at 1156 Chapel Street, the property purchased by Yale includes the public parking garage at 150 York Street, which adjoins 1156 Chapel Street in the rear and includes a Dialysis Center operated by the Hospital of St. Raphael. The Dialysis Center will continue to be operated by St. Raphael’s. The garage will continue to provide approximately 100 parking spaces for the public, as well as parking for patients at the St. Raphael’s facility and for Yale University students and employees. Yale will pay property taxes to the City on the commercial parking spaces in the garage.

“Yale has chosen a vibrant and productive use for the Jewish Community Center building,” New Haven Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. said. “I’m particularly pleased that Yale chose an arts-related use, which will generate related traffic and interaction for the merchants and businesses located in the Chapel West district. With this new tenancy, we gain another building block in showcasing New Haven as the state’s leader in arts, entertainment and culture.”

“We are so pleased that Yale has realized the potential of the Jewish Community Center,” said Evelyn Schatz, president of the Chapel West Special Services District. “It will be a terrific building for the University and the increased activity and pedestrian traffic will be a real plus for the neighborhood, especially for the merchants at Chapel West.”

When the School of Art relocates to the renovated structure it will introduce to upper Chapel Street the lively presence of 120 graduate students, 90 faculty and staff, and approximately 350 undergraduate students who take studio art classes each semester.

Current plans for 1156 Chapel Street call for the structure to house classrooms, studios, offices, and exhibition and performance space. Other possible University arts uses for the building are under review. Yale is in the process of selecting an architect for the renovation, which is expected to be completed by the fall of 1998. The School of Art is currently located in Yale’s Art and Architecture Building at the corner of Chapel and York Streets.

In addition to the Art and Architecture Building, Yale’s arts complex near the intersection of Chapel and York Streets in New Haven includes the Yale University Art Gallery, the Center for British Art, the Yale Repertory Theatre, the School of Drama, and the University Theatre. Yale launched a major study two years ago of the facilities that hold its world-class art schools and galleries to determine how best to repair, modify or add space to the complex. Planning for physical improvements to other components of the Yale arts complex is ongoing.

Yale is a close partner with the City of New Haven and others in the effort to enhance the City’s already significant stature as a destination for arts lovers. In addition to the attraction provided by Yale’s collections, performances and art-related activities, Yale assists other community efforts to promote the arts and the economic benefits they generate. For example, this year Yale provided $500,000 as part of an effort by the City, State, Greater New Haven Community Foundation and others to ensure the viability of the Shubert Performing Arts Center. The University was also among the institutions that provided financial and operational support for last summer’s inaugural International Festival of Arts and Ideas in New Haven.

The purchase of the Chapel Street building is the most recent of a number of revitalization projects by Yale University in the upper Chapel Street area. In the last year the University has spent $130,000 on facade improvements and interior renovations of apartment buildings it owns on Park Street between Broadway and Chapel Street. The University also acquired the former Inn at Chapel West, which was facing foreclosure, and spent $150,000 on a complete redecoration with reproduction period furnishings. Renamed The Three Chimneys Inn and Conference Center, the refurbished inn is managed for the University by Sagamore Hill, Inc. Both the Park Street apartment buildings and Three Chimneys Inn are commercial properties on which Yale pays property taxes to the City of New Haven.

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Media Contact

Tom Conroy: tom.conroy@yale.edu, 203-432-1345