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Yale pledged on Wednesday to give New Haven an additional $52 million in voluntary contributions over the next six years as part of a package designed to help the city grow with the university.
In a celebratory news conference at New Haven City Hall that featured a hug between Mayor Justin Elicker and Yale President Peter Salovey, both parties heralded a new era in town-gown relations.
“This is a really big deal,” Elicker said, facing a bank of news cameras and dozens of Yale and city officials crowding the second-floor atrium.
“At this critical inflection point, Yale and New Haven are making an emphatic statement about our bond,” said Salovey, a 40-year resident of New Haven. Referring to recent growth and economic development, he added, “Our city is entering a new era.”
Yale’s payments to the city will rise by $10 million for each of the next five years and $2 million in the sixth year, according to Salovey. Slated to start next year, the contributions will boost the total to about $23 million annually for a total of $135 million in the six-year period.
Yale’s new contributions come in addition to a major increase in PILOT funding from the state under the latest budget intended to reimburse New Haven for its numerous tax-free properties, to a total of more than $90 million a year.
"As an anchor institution and the city’s largest employer, Yale is proud to join New Haven and the state of Connecticut in increasing investments in our home city,” Salovey said. "New Haven is poised for accelerated expansion and inclusive growth."
The university also promised to fully offset the cost of its real estate purchases, which take property off the tax rolls. No additional purchases are planned for the near future, Yale officials said on Wednesday.
Yale will also spend $5 million to create a new Center for Inclusive Growth designed to help spark New Haven’s economy.
"The center will examine, develop and implement new strategies for growing the city’s economy to the benefit of all New Haven residents," Salovey said, adding that it would complement work by the New Haven Community Foundation, Black Business Alliance and other nonprofits.
A fourth element of the new deal was a pledge by Yale to close High Street between Chapel and Elm for a car-free greenway, with designs and planning funded by the university. The new path would be open to the public, and Salovey said the university would consider opening new areas of campus to the public, including the adjacent Old Campus.
Both sides lauded the efforts of Henry Fernandez, CEO at consulting firm Fernandez Advisors, who helped broker the deal between the city and Yale over a year of negotiations. The talks touched on issues like economic inequality, racial justice and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.
“Other universities should see this as the new standard,” Fernandez said of the deal’s total, easily making Yale’s contribution to New Haven the largest such town-gown package in the nation. “The simple idea is that we can build a city that grows and benefits both Yale... and the people across the city. Cities are great when they benefit us all.”
The Yale deal is pending approval by the New Haven alders, but Board of Alder President Tyisha Walker-Myers said the body would approve it as soon as the mayor submits it for consideration.
Residents have long felt slighted by the university, Walker-Myers said, but negotiations over the new deal helped break down barriers. Yale seems more willing to help residents escape poverty, she added.
“Yale actually heard what they were saying,” Walker-Myers said. “We have needs we really need help addressing.”
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