Closing the Elm City Gap opens up a void

Only a few days remain for avid Yale shoppers to fall into the Gap. The store, located a block from campus at the corner of Chapel and College streets, will be closing Jan. 26 after 10 years of operation.

Store Manager Erica Bressman said no big discounts would be offered, and all extra merchandise would be transferred to other store locations. She said they have not received shipments for several weeks, and the second floor is already cleared out.

“I think it’s a disappointment for the New Haven community,” Bressman said of the closing. “I think it not being here is a huge void in the shopping in New Haven.”

The Gap is a tenant of Taft Realty Associates, which also maintains the Taft Apartments, Richter’s pub, Karma, Archetype and Hot Tomato’s.

Taft Regional Property Manager Lisa Drazen said while they enjoyed having the Gap in the building, downtown New Haven has changed a lot since 1992 when the store first opened, and another tenant could be even more promising.

“New Haven has really come back, and the new tenant will be part of the continued success. It’s much more of a 24-hour city than it was in the early 90’s — people feel good walking around no matter what time it is,” Drazen said.

Drazen said there has been a high demand for the space from prospective tenants, but added that she was not able to discuss the possibilities Taft Realty Associates is considering.

Drazen and Bressman declined to discuss the reason behind the store’s closing, and the corporate headquarters of Gap, Inc. did not return inquiries regarding the closing. But Scott Healy ’96, executive director of the Town Green Special Services District, said Gap, Inc. — which began to falter financially when it introduced the popular discount store Old Navy — has been closing several stores nation-wide. Healy said the Chapel St. Gap store was probably not having trouble itself, since other stores in the area have not been reporting diminishing sales. He said if anything, clothing sales only increased in New Haven over the last five years.

“I don’t think there’s any trend to suggest that retail is faltering,” he said.

Healy said while he is disappointed in the Gap’s departure, the retail chain does not have the “edgy draw” that other stores, such as J. Crew and Urban Outfitters, bring to New Haven.

“New Haven is a city that in many ways is shaped by its local flavor — certainly the Gap is a nice store, but it doesn’t represent tremendous local flavor. We’re not terribly upset by it [leaving],” Healy said.

Healy said he would like to see the new store at 994 Chapel St. fill an underserved niche in downtown, such as sporting goods, kitchen appliances, or furniture.

Other Gap locations remaining nearby include stores in Waterbury, Meriden and the Connecticut Post Mall in Milford.

A customer buys clothes at the counter of the New Haven Gap on the corner of Chapel and Corner streets. The Gap, which is a tenant of Taft Realty Associates will be closing its doors forever on Jan. 26. The popular clothing store will not be offering any special sales in its final weekend.
Elizabeth Steinfeld
A customer buys clothes at the counter of the New Haven Gap on the corner of Chapel and Corner streets. The Gap, which is a tenant of Taft Realty Associates will be closing its doors forever on Jan. 26. The popular clothing store will not be offering any special sales in its final weekend.

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