No rush to fill empty storefronts

The long-running transformation of Broadway is by no means complete.

Ashley’s ice cream parlor is preparing to open in the former Whimsels site later this month. But three vacant storefronts owned by Yale University Properties remain on Broadway: the former Krauszer’s site, a property adjacent to Ivy Noodle, and the space between J.Crew and Alexia Crawford.

“We do not have any new deals at the moment,” said Bruce Alexander, the director of Yale’s Office of New Haven and State Affairs.

University Properties, a division of Alexander’s office, manages Yale’s commercial real estate.

Alexander said University Properties easily could have leased the sites because he has received many offers. But he said he hopes to attract specific types of firms that so far have been unavailable.

In addition, some local mom and pop stores that match Yale’s goals need time to expand and attract other family members before adding additional sites on Broadway, Alexander said.

The closure of the creperie Whimsels just over a year after its grand opening seems to further the need for careful lease preparation.

Yale is nearing the end of a seven-year program to redesign the Broadway shopping district. Since the mid-1990s, the University has renovated several buildings on Broadway and established a new mix of tenants in an attempt to attract more non-student shoppers.

Initially, Alexander’s office focused on attracting national retailers. The University switched its textbook source from the Yale Co-op, a fixture in New Haven since 1885, to the national powerhouse Barnes & Noble. University Properties also signed leases with other chains, such as Origins, Urban Outfitters and J.Crew.

Some national eateries left, including Subway and Bruegger’s Bagels. But homegrown shops like Broadway Pizza, The Daily Cafe, David’s Cookies and Whimsels are also no longer near campus.

Now, University Properties’ emphasis is on local firms, such as Ashley’s. Alexander said other deals could be complete by the end of the calendar year.

The Yale Daily News reported in February that University Properties was considering adding a Mexican restaurant to the Broadway shopping district. But officials at University Properties have recently declined to discuss any specific establishments they are pursuing.

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