In an attempt to make the city more attractive to businesses and retailers, the Town Green Special Services District has launched a business development initiative to encourage cooperation between the city’s major property owners, including the University.
Town Green officials have hired Kathleen Krolak — who has worked for the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce and is currently completing her master’s degree in urban planning and development at Southern Connecticut State University — to create a database of available lots in the downtown district and market them to businesses. City officials said Town Green’s efforts will help fill gaps in the city’s ability to promote its downtown to businesses, which is hampered by a lack of resources.
The downtown business advocacy group said in a press release that the business development initiative will promote a richer mix of retail in the downtown district as it will be easier for businesses to find suitable vacancies.
“A major part of the District’s initiative seeks to add a greater diversity to Downtown’s retail mix and restore New Haven’s image as the region’s premiere retail destination,” the organization said.
Executive Director of the Town Green Special Services District Scott Healy ’96 could not be reached for comment Sunday.
Deputy Director for Economic Development Tony Bialecki said Krolak’s hiring will come as a great help to the city in its efforts to attract new businesses to the city’s downtown, as the Town Green holds a close relationship with most of the businesses and available vacancies in the district.
“What you want [to market downtown] is someone who has the time and the intimate knowledge of where the places are, and someone from the Town Green could help take the lead,” he said. “While we try and do that as much as we can, we just don’t have in our staffing or enough time to do as much follow-through as we might like.”
The initiative comes as the latest expansion of the Town Green Special Services District’s mission since Healy became executive director in 2001. While the organization’s main task before 2001 was to maintain a clean and safe downtown, its priorities have grown to include marketing the downtown area and promoting tourism and foot traffic in the neighborhood.
University Properties Director of Marketing Shana Schneider ’00 said the new initiative will make it easier to fill vacancies downtown, as property owners like the University will have information about other vacancies whither they can direct potential retailers.
“When someone is interested in moving downtown but they do not fit into a [University Properties] space, we can help exchange information,” she said. “Town Green will be the gatherer and help to distribute that information.”
In addition to University Properties, Schneider said, most of the other major land-owners — Olympia Properties, C.A. White, and College Street LLC — in the downtown district will participate in the initiative.