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November 4, 2022 REAL ESTATE

New Haven picks developer to turn school into housing, arts space

PHOTO | New Haven Assessor The former Strong School at 69 Grand Ave., New Haven is slated for redevelopment.

New Haven officials have picked national firm Pennrose to redevelop the former Horace H. Strong School into a mix of affordable housing and community arts space. 

The building is at 69 Grand Ave., in the Fair Haven neighborhood. 

Pennrose proposes to renovate the historic school, which was built in 1915, into 58 affordable housing units. It plans to also include “live and work” spaces for local artists. 

An LGBTQ-friendly environment is a key aspect of the project vision also, according to the city.

Mayor Justin Elicker said the city is “excited” for the project to begin, as it will mean more local affordable housing. 

“The project’s added focus on creating community arts spaces will also help highlight the artistic contributions of residents and the cultural vibrancy that truly defines Fair Haven,” Elicker said.

A Selection Committee made up of residents and members of the city’s planning, economic development and housing divisions recommended Pennrose.

The project is expected to cost about $25 million, with an anticipated completion date of 2025. 

Plans call for the 58 residential units to include a mix of studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments. All will be affordable, or for households between 30% to 80% of the area median income (AMI). Of the total, 48 will be for households between 30% and 60% of the AMI.

It’s a historic spot, as the original building on the site was constructed in 1808 and was the first public school in New Haven. The Strong School closed in 2010, and officials have been working to find new uses for it with input from residents, according to the mayor’s office. 

Pennrose, which has nearby offices in New York and Boston, has experience in historic school restoration. It transformed the Mary D. Stone School in Auburn, Mass. into mixed-income senior housing. Pennrose has completed similar projects in Connecticut, including in Hartford, Torrington and Meriden, according to an announcement. 

The development team also includes The Cloud Company, a 100% minority-owned, Connecticut-based real estate development firm; WRT Planning and Design; and historic consultant PAL Inc. Following construction, the property will be managed by the Pennrose Management Company.

Arlevia Samuel, executive director of New Haven’s Livable City Initiative, said, “Based on Pennrose’s thoughtfully submitted proposal, site visits to other Pennrose-developed properties as well as their proven track record of rehabilitating historic properties into affordable housing throughout New England, we have every confidence in Pennrose’s ability to complete the important project.”

Charlie Adams, regional vice president for Pennrose, said the redevelopment will “bring a former cultural asset back to life.”

City officials indicated that they expect planning and construction to take about three years.

A definitive development agreement will be negotiated and submitted to the Board of Alders for review and approval. Interested residents can keep tabs on the project through the Fair Haven Community Management Team meetings, with details at

Contact Michelle Tuccitto Sullo at

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