In the past 10 years, New Haven has witnessed an influx of new businesses and the expansion of several established companies, events that have garnered mixed reviews from local residents and workers.
The Northeast Alliance Credit Union, which moved its office from Broadway to Whitney Avenue and expanded the office’s size and services in November, is the most recent example of New Haven businesses’ recent growth trend.
Wanda Dewey, manager of the Whitney Avenue NEA, said the new office is twice the size of the credit union’s Broadway location, which it opened in 1998 next to Gourmet Heaven. Dewey said the NEA’s members, who must be Yale-affiliated, will benefit from the expanded credit union’s new services, which include safe deposit boxes and cash dispensing from the office. The bank’s former location will be replaced by a retail store similar to those already on Broadway, University Properties Director David Newton said.
Many other local businesses have also experienced recent growth. Trailblazer, an outdoor equipment store, moved from its former space on Broadway to a larger, more prominent building on Chapel Street in 2004.
Many New Haven business owners have also opened new branches of their stores within the city and beyond. Wave Gallery, an art store on Chapel Street, recently established an additional location in nearby Madison. Less than two years ago, the owner of Cafe Adulis, a restaurant on College Street, opened La Piazza, an upscale Italian bistro next to the Yale Bookstore.
This growth has not been limited to the retail and restaurant sectors. Since its establishment in 2002, Aux Trois Pommes, which began as a partial French immersion school, has now established two additional locations offering instruction in eight other languages.
Shana Schneider, director of marketing at University Properties, said the city has become increasingly attractive to business interests.
“They’re interested in staying here long-term as a business and also to grow,” she said.
The expansion of existing businesses has been accompanied by an influx of outside enterprises. Big-name establishments like Cold Stone Creamery and Quiznos have recently opened franchises near the Yale campus.
But some city residents said they believe there is still room for more businesses to set up shop in New Haven.
“In terms of clothing, if you don’t like Urban Outfitters or J. Crew, you’re kind of at a loss,” Jacqueline Coe ’09 said. “To get a lot of the things I’m used to, I have to go to New York.”
Still others, like lifelong resident Rachel Plattus ’09, said retail expansion in the city is going too far.
“While I like to shop at all of those big-name retailers, it’s a little sad to me that a lot of smaller, independent businesses have trouble sustaining themselves,” she said.
Plattus cited the cases of York Square Cinemas and the Foundry Bookstore, two establishments that were recently forced into bankruptcy by competition from relative newcomers like Criterion Cinema and Barnes and Noble on Broadway.
But Paul Tommaselli of the New Haven Chamber of Commerce said both independent and big-name retailers have experienced growth in the city.
“As many mom-and-pop places open, there seems to be more established settlements coming in,” he said. “It seems to be an equal balance between the two.”
Tomasselli said he attributes much of this recent business expansion to the city’s economic development efforts and the residential projects of high-end investors.
Throughout the city, formerly abandoned warehouses are being bought and converted to lavish apartment units, Tomasselli said. Newly-built residences on Temple, Chapel and State streets, for example, have proven popular, some with base prices approaching $500,000.
“New Haven has been recognized as a vibrant, exciting place to be, and there’s an influx of residential housing and people moving into [the city],” Newton said.