CHAPEL SQUARE MALL
Chapel and Temple Streets
New Haven, Connecticut

One the nation's earliest inner city shopping malls was New Haven's CHAPEL SQUARE. The fully-enclosed complex, first conceived in 1957, was designed by New York City's Lathrop Douglass. New Haven's Roger L. Stevens was its initial developer. He was replaced, midway through the project, by the city's Fusco-Armatrada Construction Company.

CHAPEL SQUARE occupied 12 acres along three city blocks. The 2-level mall proper encompassed the northernmost of these blocks and housed 165,000 leasable square feet. It included an underground parking deck, the 19-story Sheraton Park Plaza Hotel and 14-story 900 Temple Street office tower.

The hotel and office building were officially dedicated in October 1966. The mall opened for business in March 1967, with inline stores such as Parklane Hosiery, Anthony's Jewelers, Petrie's, Arnold's Shoes and Cutler's Records.

To the south, on the middle block, was a 6-level (310,000 square foot) Macy's and a portion of the Temple Street Garage. The CHAPEL SQUARE Macy's was noteworthy as being the first urban store in the chain to be built outside the New York City metropolitan area. It had opened for business September 24, 1964 and was linked to the mall via skywalk.

The third, southernmost, block of the CHAPEL SQUARE complex housed the southern portion of the Temple Street Garage, as well as a 5-level (266,000 square foot), New Haven-based Edward Malley Company. Malley's held its dedication October 25, 1962. It was the first structure built for the "Chapel Street Redevelopment" and was linked, via skywalk, to Macy's.

CHAPEL SQUARE had a successful run into the late 1970s. A high profile murder, in the Temple Street Garage, in 1973, may now be seen as the beginning of its decline. Suburban malls, such as CONNECTICUT POST CENTER (1960) {6.9 miles southwest, in Milford} also contributed to the malaise of CHAPEL SQUARE, as did the shuttering of its Malley's anchor store, in February 1982.

A redevelopment of the redevelopment got underway following the leasing of the mall, by the Maryland-based James Rouse Company, in late 1983. Originally, a 2-block expansion of the structure, and a third anchor store, were proposed.

However, this plan was scaled down to a 14 million dollar reconfiguration of existing space. The Picnic On the Green Food Court was dedicated in November 1984. The mallway had also been given a face lift. New tenants were signed, such as Conran's Furniture, Zab's Backyard Hots, Harstan's Jewelers, Athlete's Foot, Sykes-Libbey, Bundles and Record World.

Things went relatively well until a recession hit in the early 1990s. A downturn at CHAPEL SQUARE was exacerbated by the closing of Macy's, in June 1993. Conran's Furniture pulled out in March 1994, leaving the mall in dire straits.

The Rouse Company relinquished control of the property in May 1995. Soon after, Baltimore's David Cordish acquired the Sheraton Park Plaza Hotel and began renovating the building. The City of New Haven, who owned the adjacent CHAPEL SQUARE, signed an agreement with Mr. Cordish. He would also buy and redevelop the struggling shopping center.

The City eventually reneged on the deal, and the mall redevelopment project fell through. However, the hotel renovation was successfully completed. It re-opened, as the Omni New Haven, in the fall of 1997.

Meanwhile, the Malley's structure, derelict and decaying after sitting vacant for several years, was demolished. Macy's, and its adjoining mall, continued to decline (this store would be razed in 2006).

In the early 2000s, Baltimore-based Jackson Ewing spearheaded yet another potential renovation of CHAPEL SQUARE. This was thwarted when Jackson Ewing failed to acquire the vacant Macy's building. They pulled out of the project and were replaced by the New Haven-based Nyberg Group.

It was decided to renovate the mall property into a 4-level apartment complex, with a smattering of outward-facing retail. The roof of the mallway was ripped-off and the office tower refurbished.

The 75-unit RESIDENCE COURT (CHAPEL SQUARE MALL) began leasing apartments in the summer of 2004. New retail stores, including Ann Taylor Loft, Cold Stone Creamery, Quizno's Subs, Cafe Bottega and Rite Aid Drug, were open for business by the fall of 2005.

The final phase of the CHAPEL SQUARE renovation was the completion of the 360,000 square foot Gateway Community College campus. The 140 million dollar, street-straddling structure consolidated two separate educational facilities. It was constructed on the sites of the old Macy's and Malley's stores and opened in the fall of  2012.

Sources:

digitalcommons.law.yale.ed
The Yale Daily News
The New York Times
"Chapel Square Mall" article on Wikipedia
www.labelscar.com
"Chapel Square Mall" article on Wikipedia
www.data.visionappraisal.com
www.newhavenreview.com
www.conntact.com