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West Haven waterfront mall deal is dead

Dozens of homes and commercial properties have sat vacant for at least five years on First Avenue after the owners were forced to sell their properties.

WEST HAVEN, Conn. — A deal to build a $220 million upscale waterfront mall in West Haven is officially dead, according to those close to the talks with the developer in recent moths.

Dozens of homes and commercial properties have sat vacant for at least five years along First Avenue after the owners were forced to sell their properties to make way for what many thought was a doomed deal all along.

In 2013, The Haven upscale waterfront mall project was approved for 27 acres promising dozens of restaurants and shops

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"And what we have is a bunch of empty buildings that are boarded up and in some cases properties that were unkept," said State Rep. Charles Ferraro (R - West Haven).

"l think in the immediate future we need to start our blight fines because those are overdue," said State Rep. Dorinda Borer (D-West Haven).

The state delegation and city officials learned in May that the developer, the Simon Group, saw no path forward for the project. But Mayor Nancy Rossi (D-West Haven) said she saw no urgency to tell residents several months ago because there was no clear plan in place. 

"But one thing I know is something has to be done down there," Rossi said. "This (blight) is not respectful of the citizens of West Haven."

Sources close to the deal tell FOX61 that COVID had a major impact on the Simon Group, a mall developer and owner because mall leases ground to a halt during the pandemic.

"These are people that love this town," said Barry Lee Cohen, a former Republican West Haven City Councilman, who nearly beat Rossi in last November's mayoral election. "They either had to be moved out of this town. Yes, they did get pricing for their housing and so forth but you know the fiber of this community has been torn apart."

Among those saddened, was Representative Borer, who grew up in the neighborhood.

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"My house is pretty close by all boarded up and this is where you know the streets that I grew up on," she said.

According to sources, the Simon Group is expected to issue a check to the city for demolition permits by Friday and start the work after Labor Day. 

Tony Terzi is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at tterzi@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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