Nine months after Au Bon Pain left its spot on One Broadway Avenue, the location has remained empty, but an employee at Brooks Brothers confirmed that the University has discussed bringing the clothing store to the coveted Broadway location.
Rumors have circulated that Yale is leasing the space to Brooks Brothers — a high-end clothing store headquartered in Manhattan, N.Y. Barbara McGovern who works for the Brooks Brothers’ real estate department confirmed that negotiations with University Properties are “still on the table,” but she said the company could not comment further about the negotiations with Yale. University Properties said they are still searching for an ideal tenant and have shown the location to multiple interested businesses.
Assistant Director for New Haven and State Affairs Lauren Zucker said in an email that finding a business that will be a good fit for the location can take a long time.
“We have had numerous showings of the One Broadway space and are looking for a tenant who will complement our existing retail offerings and continue to add to the overall mix,” Zucker said. “This can be a time-consuming process and of course, we are limited by the size of the space and what retailers would work within those parameters.”
She added that University Properties has created a successful retail environment by leaving spaces vacant until a quality tenant arrives.
Last May, University Properties unexpectedly chose not to renew ABP’s lease, forcing the popular bakery at 1 Broadway to shut down after serving students and residents for nearly a decade. In a statement released last May, University Properties said that Yale decided not to renew the lease in order to make “necessary upgrades” to the Broadway location. Since then, Maison Mathis, a locally-owned Belgian bakery, has opened as an alternative to ABP, but the prime spot at the corner of Broadway and York Streets remains vacant.
Although some residents agree Yale has successfully improved the environment of Broadway and Chapel Streets, others feel that the University is alienating the community by bringing in only expensive businesses.
“The area is going from something that belongs to everyone in the city to something that belongs only to the people who can afford it,” said James Doss-Gollin ’15, who grew up in New Haven. “Yale is trying to make sure that only certain people are in Yale’s vicinity.”
Doss-Gollin explained that only leasing to high-end stores like Brooks Brothers makes some New Haven residents feel unwelcome. He said he would like to see an affordable clothing store, like Old Navy, or a drug store replace ABP.
Many students think that the current mix of stores on Broadway and Chapel is too expensive for a student budget and that the University should consider adding more affordable clothing stores to its collection. In a News story published earlier this month, only 18 of 40 students interviewed had ever shopped in stores at University-owned properties, and several cited the high prices as deterrent.
Zucker said the University considers students’ opinions before making decisions about tenants — University Properties surveys students to gather feedback and learn about what types of businesses would appeal to them. But because students are gone for five months of the year, Zucker said, tenants must appeal to a broader audience in order to survive.
Still, some think that the University tends to pick a certain type of tenant. “Yale does picks businesses that can promote a certain image,” said Patrick Harris, manager of GANT Campus Store.
University Properties was established in 1996 as part of Yale’s Office of New Haven and State Affairs and has over 85 retail tenants in its portfolio.