New Haven Independent – Ribbon Cut At The Blake

by MARKESHIA RICKS | Jan 31, 2019 7:53 am

Markeshia Ricks Photo
MARKESHIA RICKS PHOTO Salvatore orchestrates Wednesday’s ribbon cutting with city officials.

Developer Randy Salvatore cut the ribbon on his latest New Haven real estate venture Thursday, signaling a finale in the transformation of an entire city block bordered by High, Crown, College, and George streets.

City and business leaders joined Salvatore and his wife, Claire, in an official ribbon-cutting ceremony in the lobby of The Blake, a boutique upscale, 108-room hotel that he said he “hopes and expects to become the central gathering place for residents and visitors of New Haven for generations to come.”

Chef Matt Lambert shows off The Blake’s Hamilton Park restaurant.

Salvatore said that doesn’t mean he’s simply trying to attract guests to rent rooms or people to eat in the new restaurant, Hamilton Park, helmed by Michelin Star Chef Matt Lambert. He wants people to come in with their laptops to work and grab some coffee, and simply hang out with their friends.

Mixologist Eben Freeman curates the drink menu at Hamilton Park.

“We want this to be a place where people gather at all times of the day,” Salvatore said during a tour Thursday. “You don’t have to stay in the hotel to come in here and do this. We want it to be activated all throughout the day,” including with special events like jazz brunches and poetry nights.

The restaurant’s layout provides an open view into the kitchen.

The Blake is the second of three projects that Salvatore and his RMS Companies have completed in New Haven since 2012. The first project was The Novella, a luxury apartment building at the corner of Howe and Chapel streets. A third Salvatore apartment complex is coming to the Hill, the first phase of 110 apartments which is already underway. He has site plan approval for a second and third phase of that project which will add another 194 apartments.

The Blake features conference space on the first floor and more on the sixth.

Salvatore commended Mayor Toni Harp and her team for having “truly created a business-friendly culture in New Haven that makes a real estate developer like myself eager to continue to make large investments in this great city.”

Salvatore described himself as “so bullish on New Haven’s future.”

That was good news to Harp and Chamber of Commerce of Greater New Haven President Garrett Sheehan.

The living room of a spacious corner suite on the third floor.

Harp called the opening of The Blake another success story for Salvatore as well as a milestone for the city, noting that the hotel is at a prime location midway between Yale University’s main campus and the medical district. It also represents a significant upgrade to a parcel that was formerly home to a budget rental car location into “another active, large-scale, beautifully appointed downtown business.” The whole block has been upgraded from an old Salvation Army store and mid-block squatter space to four separate new upscale apartment complexes as well as a bevy of new restaurants.

The kitchen boasts a cooktop, fridge, microwave, and dishwasher.

“The addition of these hotel rooms — suitable for both quick visits and extended stays … speaks about progress in New Haven in a larger sense,” Harp said. “With the growth in the city’s technology sector, this hotel is now available for those interviewing or studying at the Holberton School, applying for jobs at SeeClickFix or QCI, or looking for start-up space at Science Park or DISTRICT.”

Betsy Herlihy discovers the plush robes.

She said given the growth in the city’s bioscience and personalized medicine sector, the hotel will be a haven for researchers, investors and others with ties to the industry who need to stay for a night or a whole month.

Sheehan argued that the opening of the hotel helps make the strong case for the ongoing advocacy for the lengthening of the runway at Tweed Airport.

“Businesses tell us they need to get people in and out of New Haven well to get them in and out, they need places to stay,” Sheehan said. “So to have a facility like this — an exquisite hotel that they can stay at, that just adds value for the entire business community and adds to our overall argument that we need to extend that runway.”

Salvatore with wife Claire, who he called the “inspirational force behind the project.” She oversaw the design team. At left: Alder Hacibey Catalbasoglu.

Salvatore said extended-stay options at The Blake are designed with those coming to New Haven for work in mind. In addition to conference rooms on the first and sixth floors, the hotel rooms feature a small cooktop, microwave, refrigerator, and a sink. Suites have full living rooms and bigger kitchenettes that feel more like apartments than hotels.

Guests can eat in what will eventually be two restaurants that will be at The Blake. (The second, rooftop space is under construction.) There will be a small market on site featuring in-house, pre-made meals that guest can heat up in their rooms. For those interested in keeping up their fitness on the road, the state-of-the-art fitness center features machines that allow them to take interactive classes.

“In this market, I think [extended stay] definitely has appeal,” Salvatore said. “People are coming in for specific purposes for extended periods. It feels very homey when you’re here. It feels like an apartment or your home rather than a hotel. That’s the idea.”