Starting in late May, Yale students will have to go no farther than Broadway to stock up on colorful basics.
Site architect Danny Orenstein confirmed Thursday that the American Apparel store at 51 Broadway St. will open May 22. Although the date is nearly a full calendar year after the Los Angeles-based clothing store’s originally scheduled opening date of June 2008, American Apparel representatives and site managers said the delay — which they maintained was due to factors beyond their control — has not dampened excitement for the opening.
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“Actually the store is moving on target and on track,” said Ryan Holiday, a spokesman for American Apparel. “It may actually open a little earlier than planned. The only delay would have been the hand-over of the building to American Apparel to begin work.”
He explained that the initial delay was the result of difficulties related to gaining possession of the property from former occupant Campus Customs, which took longer than expected to move to a larger space three storefronts away. But Thomas Vitagliano, managing partner of the Yale Mall Partnership and owner of the building, challenged American Apparel’s assertion that there had been a second delay because of a stop-work order on the construction.
On March 16, the Department of Labor issued a stop-work order against MM Home Improvement, the Waterbury-based construction company Vitagliano hired to update the building. Vitagliano dismissed the order, which was tacked on the storefront’s scaffolding, as a “misunderstanding.”
Orenstein reiterated that the stop-work order was an error: “Someone in the community had launched an investigation about the citizenship of our workers,” he said. “It was a false alarm. Everything was fine.”
He added: “The stop-work order caused less than a day of delay.”
Four construction workers from MM Home Improvement have been renovating the site for the past four months. Orenstein — who works for New York-based firm JPDA — said that the structure is in place and that the estimated final month of work will focus on interior details. The design of the store will be a mix of the building’s historic masonry work and newly installed panels, Orenstein said.
“It’s a nice contradiction,” he said. “It definitely speaks to the American Apparel aesthetic and to New Haven history in a way.”
Orenstein said American Apparel decided to open a store in New Haven because of its large college community.
“Students seem really excited about having a new face on the street,” said Orenstein, mentioning that several students had visited the construction site to ask when the store would open.
But despite the importance of students in attracting American Apparel to New Haven, Orenstein said he was not concerned about opening the store just as most Elis begin to leave for summer break.
Managers from other retail stores on Broadway agreed that a summer opening would not hurt American Apparel because sales typically do not decrease during the summer. They also said they were looking forward to American Apparel’s opening.
“American Apparel will help our business,” said Sarah Pujlisi, the store manager at WishList. “If customers ask for other places to shop in the area, we will tell them to go to American Apparel, and hopefully they will do the same.”
Some members of the Yale community, however, expressed considerably less enthusiasm about the opening.
“The opening of American Apparel has been talked about for so long that it seems like a myth,” Christie Kim ’11 said. “The delays have killed any excitement that students might have initially felt.”
The only other American Apparel in Connecticut is located in South Norwalk.