This story has been updated to reflect the version published in print on Aug. 22, 2014.
After more than a year of rumors and speculation, Yale University Properties announced Thursday afternoon that international retailers Emporium DNA and Kiko Milano will set up shop at One Broadway this fall.
The coveted location at the corner of York and Broadway has been empty since the University chose not to renew the lease for Au Bon Pain bakery. For the past year, residents have speculated about what business would open at the prime spot while University Properties said that it was searching for the ideal tenant that would compliment the current businesses on Broadway. Associate Vice President for New Haven Affairs and University Properties Lauren Zucker said Thursday that the two new international retailers who will share the space will appeal to a broad base of New Haven residents, but most students interviewed questioned the University’s decision to bring in unfamiliar boutiques.
“Feedback from our customer surveys has indicated a strong desire for an affordable cosmetics offering as well as additional exciting brands in New Haven and those requests are being met,” Zucker said in a statement. “Although these are international companies, these retailers will create local jobs in New Haven and will draw consumers to New Haven to support all of our downtown local merchants.”
Emporium DNA is a high-end boutique with four other locations in the United States. The establishment offers apparel and accessories from hundreds of contemporary designers including Alice & Olivia, J Brand and Hudson, as well as European brands that have not been introduced to the U.S. market. The boutique will occupy 2,600 square feet at One Broadway while Kiko Milano, an Italian cosmetics store, will occupy the remaining 1,300 square feet.
Yale officials said they considered feedback from UP’s customer surveys as they chose the new tenants. These surveys — which go out to students, greater New Haven residents and downtown employees — reflected a strong desire for a cosmetics store, Zucker said.
Still, all 17 students interviewed said they are not satisfied with Yale’s selection of tenants. Fifteen had never heard of either European store, and most cited Emporium DNA’s steep prices as a turnoff for students and a large segment of the New Haven population.
“I honestly haven’t heard of these places, which gives you an indication that I probably won’t be shopping there that often,” Paul Elish ’15 said. “I also have my doubts about the power of these places to attract new shoppers to Broadway.”
Three students added that they would have preferred to see a pharmacy, like Walgreens or Rite Aid, fill One Broadway since there are currently no pharmacies operating on central campus. Other students said they hoped for a mainstream, affordable clothing store such as Gap or H&M, or a cafe similar to Au Bon Pain.
While most students expressed discontent about the new tenants, city officials and business owners said the opening of international stores in New Haven signals the city’s economic growth.
At today’s public announcement at Broadway Island, Mayor Toni Harp delivered brief remarks about the new stores, emphasizing that New Haven is building a reputation for innovation. The new stores underscore the city’s attractiveness to a range of merchants and customers, she said.
“Throughout its distinguished history, New Haven has been a vibrant crossroads of ideas, cultural treasures, trends and commerce,” Harp said. “We know New Haven is ready, willing and eager to host these two stores and others who would like to do business here.”
Several business owners of Yale University Properties also attended the announcement, held under a white tent on Broadway.
Among the attendees was owner of Hull’s Art Supply & Framing Steve Kovel, who said that although he was surprised since he had never heard of the retailers, he expects the stores will be beneficial to the city’s growth.
“It’s quite revolutionary that two major European brands are beginning their growth in the States in downtown New Haven,” Kovel said. “It’s a wonderful thing.”
The two new businesses will create roughly 16 new jobs in New Haven for local residents, Zucker said. She also emphasized the affordability of the two stores: Kiko Milano offers cosmetic ranging from $7 to $12 while DNA Emporium has price points starting at $69 for dresses, $45 for tops and $50 for shoes, she said.
Still, most students said that these stores would not be affordable to students, as the average prices for clothing on the DNA Emporium website are well over $100, despite the lower starting prices that Zucker highlighted.
“Why don’t they open up a store that everyone can afford,” Magdaleno Mora ’17 said. “[Broadway has] become more of a resort or theme park rather than a shopping district.”
Pending construction of the stores’ flooring, lighting and finishing, the stores are scheduled to open this fall. For both stores, the location in New Haven will be their first in Connecticut.
Audrey Luo and Madeleine Witt contributed reporting.