New Haven Union Station is seen on the far side of a portion of the Church Street South site. Photo courtesy of Google Maps

A Massachusetts developer is shedding a huge parcel of land once occupied by workforce housing near downtown New Haven, and earning $21 million in the process.

Northland owns 13 vacant acres across the street from New Haven Union Station, the terminus for Metro-North’s New Haven Line and CTDOT’s Hartford Line and Shoreline East train services and a stop on Amtrak’s Acela and Northeast Regional train services.

The site was once home to the 301-unit Church Street South private subsidized housing complex, demolished in 2018 amid a build-up of deferred maintenance and tenants’ accusations that mold in the building was giving children asthma. Northland settled a class-action lawsuit over the allegations for $18.75 million in 2021.

The seller, Northland said in a statement, is the city of New Haven’s combined housing authority and affordable housing developer, Elm City Communities.

“We are pleased that we were able to come to terms on the sale of the Church Street South site to the Housing Authority of New Haven.  We have a strong relationship with HANH, who we have worked with in the past.  We believe in their leadership and honor their desire to fulfill the goal of creating desperately needed affordable housing in New Haven,” the company said.

When the complex was first demolished, Northland had sought to build 1,000 homes, 30 percent of which would have been set aside as affordable housing. But plans were never finalized after negotiations with city officials over how to close gaps in the project’s capital stack stalled.

The New Haven Independent, quoting the head of Elm City Communities Karen Dubois-Walton, reports that the housing authority has agreed to pay $21 million for the property and will begin its own planning process for how to develop the site into affordable and market-rate housing, likely in tandem with upgrades to an adjacent public housing complex. Northland’s 1,000-unit plan would be “a sort of starting point” for any new project, which might involve a private development partner.

Officials are also in the process of considering how to redevelop a parking lot next to the New Haven station into either a residential tower or a hotel/office tower.