NEW HAVEN — The proposal to make the intersection of Audubon and Orange streets safe for pedestrians and cyclists was well received Tuesday as Spinnaker advances its plans to build apartments, retail space and a large parking garage on one of the last sizeable development sites in the city.
Construction of the 716-space parking garage — the first piece of the development — will start next year and be finished by the end of summer, according to Matthew Edvardsen of Spinnaker Real Estate Partners.
Most of that garage is for the employees of Frontier Communications, the company which previously owned the 3.3-site and which made the garage a condition of Spinnaker’s purchase of the land.
The design of the Audubon and Orange street intersection was done by the city’s engineering department led by City Engineer Giovanni Zinn in conjunction with the Department of Transportation, Traffic and Parking.
The large overall development will be phased in with 269 market-rate housing units, some 4,000 square feet of retail space and such amenities as a pool, rooftop decks, common areas and a clubhouse, in phase one.
Known as Audubon Square, when the $80 million investment is finished, it could have as many as 500 units of housing.
The presentation on the upgraded intersection was made to the Wooster Square Downtown Special District Tuesday night.
Douglas Hausladen, who heads Transportation, Traffic and Parking, said the plan was to replicate, to a large degree, the road treatment at Whitney Avenue and Audubon Street, one block west of the intersection with Orange.
The Audubon Square project is bound by Audubon, Orange, State and Grove streets.
Hausladen said they focused on making the Audubon-Orange intersection “a big walking thoroughfare for East Rock, Wooster Square and downtown.”
Zinn said their design is a “raised table,” which includes thermal-plastic crosswalks at all four corners. Also known as a speed table, Zinn said you create it by raising the intersection to the level of the sidewalk, which provides easy access for pedestrians crossing there.
Vehicles have to go up a slope, which is equal to about half of a speed hump, Zinn said.
Some of the other treatments include replacing part of the sidewalk at the four corners because of the different grades, Zinn said.
He said they will repeat what they did on Whitney Avenue, which is to use New Haven red stenciled concrete that looks like brick, between the sidewalk and the street.
The engineer said it will have detectable warning pads for the visually impaired and they will put bollards on the four corners to provide some visual cue to drivers that this is not a place for them to go.
There will also be flashing light beacons when pedestrians cross, which is the same treatment used at Olive and Court streets.
Hausladen said they are close to the final design of the project. He said Spinnaker donated $65,000 toward it, which is about 50 percent to the 60 percent of the total cost
One resident said the work done at Whitney and Audubon, which is the model for this intersection, made a huge difference there in terms of safety.