College Wine is definitely moving, eventually.
The aptly named wine and liquor store on the corner of College and Crown streets has plans to leave its location of 18 years to relocate a block away, at 68 Church St. Although employees at the store said a timeline for the move is still uncertain, the new developer of the site stands by a Nov. 1 deadline for eviction, leaving just two weeks for the store to settle its lease agreements and pack up its Popov.
Two years ago, Hartford developer Bob Landino, of Centerplan Companies, announced plans to take over the College Street location to build a luxury hotel. The hotel would feature at least 12 floors of hotel space and retail space, Centerplan Director of Marketing Kerry Wood said.
The economic downturn, however, has stalled the construction plans, Wood explained.
“Everything is still being worked out right now due to the economy,” she said. “We’re not on the pace that we want to be.”
Despite this, she added that College Wine has until Nov. 1 to move out. And to her knowledge, she said, College Wine owner, Sanjay Patil, is on the same page.
“I don’t believe [Patil] is still fighting the move,” she said.
But Patil insisted that the move is still uncertain and that there is still time before he is forcibly evicted.
“We’re still fighting the move,” he said. “There are still a couple of months left.”
For a modest storefront on the corner of College and Crown streets, the store has a history of difficulty regarding plans for relocation. Two years ago, Patil intended to move to a spot closer to the New Haven Green, but the move was blocked by competing liquor store The Wine Thief. The Wine Thief filed a lawsuit against College Wine in January, prompting a fight about who has the right to sell liquor downtown.
Zoning law prohibits two alcohol stores from being within 1,500 feet of each other.
The two stores are already that close, but the city turned a blind eye to The Wine Thief, which moved into its current storefront a year ago, because zoning exemptions had been given in the past.
The same exemption would have applied to College Wine, which was cleared for a new store on Chapel St. on the Green. The only stipulation: it could not sell “nips,” or single-shot alcohol. This was done to mitigate fears that the Green would become a lounging place for the city’s day drinkers.
But most recently, however, Patil found the Church Street location — just 348 feet from his competitor.
Town Green Special Services, which handled the zoning complexities of College Wine’s move, was not able to be reached, but Executive Director Scott Healy told the New Haven Independent last November that his organization does not typically block businesses relocating from nearby.
The owner of The Wine Thief, Karl Ronne, did not respond to repeated calls for comments. One of his employees, however, hinted that College Wine’s proximity would not affect business because the two stores cater to different customers.
“We’re not in any competitive state with them,” the employee said Tuesday. “We send people who can’t find what they want here to them all the time.”
But College Wine will still be College Wine; the only difference, said Colin Campbell ’09, who lives off campus on College Street, was that on-campus students would have less of a walk.
“It wouldn’t really affect Yale students. I think they’d be happy to save a couple blocks of walking,” said Campbell. “It might make me visit Liquor Land more though, now that College Wine is farther away [from me].”