New women’s shoe store to occupy spot on Broadway

First Mexican food, and now women’s shoes.

Thom Brown Inc. will occupy the vacancy at 37 Broadway between J.Crew and Alexia Crawford, Yale University Properties announced Wednesday. Thom Brown is a small shoe-store chain specializing in contemporary women’s fashion.

“Broadway is where town and gown shop together,” said Bruce Alexander, the director of Yale’s office of New Haven and state affairs that administers University Properties. “A quality, independent merchant focusing on women’s shoes will be a good complement to our current shop.”

Officials at University Properties, which manages Yale’s retail holdings, hope the 6,000-square-foot store will open by Dec. 1.

Thom Brown, who will run the operation, owns three other shoe stores, all located in the Boston metro area. Two shops are located along the fashion strip of Newbury Street, and a third is in Cambridge.

Brown has been in the retail shoe business for nine years. Before starting his footwear chain, Brown manufactured and sold shoes to department stores in New York.

Yale’s recent investment in upgrading the Broadway shopping district attracted Brown and convinced him to expand beyond the confines of Boston.

“I have been watching the New Haven market for several years, and with all the recent changes, realized that now was the time to act,” Brown said. “Broadway has a complementary mix of retailers and restaurants, most of which are local owners.”

The store is part of the 28,000-square-foot building University Properties erected at 29-45 Broadway in late 2000. The building has three separate storefront facades to create the appearance of three different buildings. Thom Brown joins anchors J.Crew and Urban Outfitters in the large building, along with women’s fashion accessories retailer Alexia Crawford.

University Properties officials had originally expected to fill the final spot with a restaurant. Instead, it has tried to create a nascent clothing district with a bent toward women’s fashion.

Andrea Pizziconi, a financial analyst with University Properties, said the shoe store’s placement adjacent to J.Crew will fit well. Most J.Crew stores include shoe departments, but because of the New Haven shop’s smaller size, J.Crew does not sell footwear on Broadway.

Pizziconi also said Thom Brown will mesh well with Barrie Limited Booters, a University Properties tenant located at 268 York St. Barrie’s focuses on men’s shoes, and the two product lines do not overlap.

“There is energy and activity on the street which, when combined with the right group of tenants, is a tremendous opportunity for us,” Brown said. “We will be unique to the market in New Haven with a variety of affordable shoes in one location.”

Brown will run the store with his son and co-owner, Jason Brown.

Alexander’s office has closely monitored student focus groups each year to determine what types of retailers would survive on Broadway. Pizziconi said women’s shoes surfaced at many of these discussions.

The deal follows University Properties’ bringing Ashley’s Ice Cream to 280 York St. and announcement of the creation of the MexiCali Grille to 320 Elm St. The only remaining vacancy on Broadway is the former Krauszer’s site on York Street.

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