With support from various members of the community, a housing developer is transforming the historical New Haven Clock Company Factory buildings into affordable housing units. Yet, in doing so, they have run into an obstacle — a legal dispute with the owners of a nearly two-decade-old strip club, which is attempting to maintain its tenancy.
Taom Heritage New Haven, LLC — the owners of the property previously used by the New Haven Clock Company — has filed a motion to evict the owners of Scores Gentlemen’s Club and Steakhouse — a strip club and the last tenants using the property. The new property holders accused the club’s owners of occupying the premises despite a terminated lease.
In response to an amended legal complaint from Taom Heritage New Haven, LLC, the Wooster Square strip club’s lawyers filed to dismiss the charges last week. Yet, in New Haven Superior Court, Judge John Louis Cordani rejected the motion and has since required the club’s lawyers to file a legal response. The club is the only tenant left on the property.
“Building new, quality, safe, affordable units is really an incredible way to build energy and to bring new life into an area that has been blighted for many years,” said Ward 8 Alder Aaron Greenberg GRD ’19.
The property in question falls in Greenberg’s ward. He lauded the housing development for being available to both low- and mixed-income residents, adding that removing the strip club would be a positive step for the area, as it would provide more opportunities for affordable housing.
Reed Realty, LLC, which is currently renovating the New Haven clock factory, partly owns Taom Heritage.
“I hope to have 130 new units in New Haven,” Josh Blevins, Reed Realty’s director of historic redevelopment and government affairs, told the News.
The clock factory occupies 130,000 square feet. Of this area, 14,000 square feet is rented by the club.
Blevins declined to comment on pending litigation.
Currently, Peter Forchetti and Fuun House Productions, LLC own the strip club. The Scores Gentlemen’s Club and Steakhouse has been serving the New Haven community for more than 20 years, featuring “exotic dancers, fine food or drinks,” according to its website.
In an amended Oct. 12 legal complaint, Taom Heritage’s lawyer, Jay Lawlor, wrote that Fuun House and Forchetti’s lease of the space expired on March 31, 2017. At that point, the club’s lease became a month-to-month endeavor. Lawlor wrote that, as of July, the lease had expired due to lapse of time. He argued that this gave Taom Heritage the right to evict Forchetti and Fuun House Productions.
According to Connecticut state law, lapse of time is cause enough to evict a tenant, and landlords are not required to explicitly disclose why they have evicted such tenants. The only exception to this law is reserved for blind, disabled or aged tenants.
Representatives from Scores Gentlemen’s Club did not respond to request for comment.
Taom Heritage New Haven, LLC is a holding company owned in part by Reed Realty, an Oregon-based housing development firm that specializes in historical restorations and affordable housing. Reed Realty intends to transform the 130,000-square-foot factory into 130 apartments, with certain units designated to house local artists.
The developers recently purchased the former faculty property for $2.5 million — but New Haven tax breaks brought the price down to $1.7 million. In a unanimous vote by the Development Commision on Oct. 9, the “Clock Shop Lofts” developers were loaned $800,000 in city funds to help pay for part of the site’s estimated $6.6 million environmental remediation.
According to The New Haven Clock Company Factory’s National Register for Historic Place Registration Form, the New Haven Clock Factory, which is comprised of ten interconnected brick buildings, was built between 1866 and 1937. At its peak in 1941, the factory employed 1,500 workers who produced 3,000,000 timepieces annually.
Reed Realty undertook the factory project in March. Since then, it has been working to secure funding for the development. Although the plans have yet to be initiated, the firm has nearly all of the necessary funding in place to undertake the $40 million project — according to a filing with the Board of Alders written by Economic Development Administrator Matthew Nemerson SOM ’81.
The New Haven Clock Company Factory is located on 133 Hamilton St.
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