NORTHEAST SNAPSHOT, OCTOBER 2004
Fairfield/New Haven Retail Market
The retail development
market in Connecticuts Fairfield and New Haven counties
is hot right now. There is a lot of activity throughout the
area, predominantly concentrated in downtown districts in
Retail development in Fairfield and New Haven counties
is highly focused on creating designs that work for the urban
landscape, notes Al Mirin, first vice president at CB
Richard Ellis Stamford, Connecticut, office. Were
seeing more and more multi-story facilities built on smaller
parcels of land. The reuse of existing structures is also
becoming more common as cities look to put space to highest
and best use.
According to Mirin, the downtown or central business districts
are seeing the most new development because they are the only
areas with available property in the size most stores desire.
In Fairfield County, Stamford is experiencing heavy retail
activity throughout its downtown. Target is nearing completion
on a six-story property on the corner of Broad Street and
Washington Boulevard. The retailer is opening shop in a building
in the heart of downtown that for years was underutilized.
Down the street from Target, Burlington Coat Factory is renovating
an old Caldors store that closed several years ago.
In addition to fulfilling a need for discount shopping,
like Target, the new Burlington Coat Factory also reinvigorates
an embarrassing eyesore in the middle of the citys most
vibrant commercial corridor, says Mirin.
Also in Stamford, another multi-story retail and residential
building is being planned on the corner of Tresser Boulevard
and Greyrock Place. Wal-Mart and Sams Club have made
tentative commitments to the current plan, although the developer
has not filed for any approvals yet.
There have been significant leases signed in Stamford as well,
with LA Fitness leasing 60,000 square feet at the Ridgeway
Shopping Center and Stop & Shop signing for 75,000 square
feet of a building under construction at the intersection
of Harvard Avenue and U.S. 1.
The city of New Haven is also experiencing an increase in
Downtown New Haven is currently in the midst of a major
rebirth, notes Mirin, due to renewed corporate
interest in the area around New Haven Green; the activity
of municipal, state and quasi-government organizations; growth
in the biotech sector; and the ongoing expansion of Yale University.
One major project is the renovation of a string of buildings
on Chapel Street, including the Chapel Square Mall (a now-defunct
retail center), the former Strous-Adler factory and an office
building at 900 Chapel St.
According to Mirin, Revitalization of this area will
include the realignment of the mall so that all stores face
outward, thus creating a pedestrian-friendly environment,
and residential units will be built on the second floor of
the mall and in a portion of the 900 Chapel St. tower.
On Sarget Drive, IKEA recently moved into the warehouse portion
of the former Armstrong-Pirelli Tire building in the citys
waterfront district, which had been vacant since the tire
company relocated several years ago. The office portion of
the building is under renovation.
One market expected to experience increased activity in the
near future is the city of Norwalk. New office development
continues to bring more people to the area, and the local
government is aiding the expansion of the citys retail
community. The development of a new transportation center
housing a retail component in the town of Fairfield should
also lead that area to encounter significant activity.
Demographics are a key reason the retail market performs so
strongly in the area. As Mirin explains, Above-average
income levels have made the area less vulnerable to the economic
forces pulling down consumer spending in other places, thus
making them highly desirable locations. Retail vacancy is
very low in non-mall locations, ranging from approximately
3 percent to 5 percent. Low vacancy rates will continue to
push up both lease rates and sale prices for these properties.
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