Who needs Harvard Square? Yale’s got Broadway.
A seven-year joint redevelopment venture between the University and New Haven that is nearing completion has made the Broadway district an attractive shopping and entertainment destination for both students and New Haven residents.
“There are a few tenants that are still going to open up, but beyond that the project is done,” said Matthew Jacobs ’98, operations manager for University Properties.
The first phase of the project began in 1994 when the city replaced concrete sidewalks with the current wide brick sidewalks, improved street lighting, and redesigned the public parking area on the street’s median.
In 1997, the University initiated a major construction project that included renovating the Yale Bookstore and building new retail sites in the district.
“It’s a wonderful location for food and entertainment,” Jacobs said. “Broadway is really a crossroads for town-gown relations.”
New stores added over the past year include independent grocer Gourmet Heaven, the Ivy Noodle Chinese cafe, Whimsel’s creperie, Koffee? Too and Urban Outfitters.
“Broadway is where ‘Freshman 15’ happens,” Daniel Klingenstein ’04 said. “There are tons of great places to eat there.”
In addition to the eateries, Broadway staples such as York Square Cinemas, Cutler’s Records and the Yale Bookstore remain.
“We needed to create an environment where people enjoy being pedestrians,” University Properties Director John Maturo said. Maturo said student satisfaction with Broadway is in the 80 percent range.
The University intends to add another small retailer and a large restaurant that will appeal to not only the Yale community but also to New Haven area residents.
Some New Haven residents already find the shopping district more appealing.
“I used to hate coming to York Cinema because there was nothing to do,” said Douglas Selmont, a New Haven-area resident who frequents York Square Cinemas. “Now there are many other things to do down here.”
Maturo said businesses that were unattractive to students, such as a wine shop, cleaners and men’s clothing store, used to dominate the region.
“It wasn’t just a place to hang out,” Maturo said. “It certainly wasn’t the lively entertainment center it is today.”
Maturo pointed to the large number of students living off campus to the south and west of Broadway as an essential ingredient in the redevelopment. Broadway no longer lies at the western border of campus as it once did.
“Broadway is a shopping option for students because it’s close by,” Xin Dong ’03 said. “Shaw’s is a long walk, and other places require driving quite a distance.”
The new structure recently completed at 27 Broadway includes student office space and the Off-Broadway Performance Space, a student black-box theater. The theater has averaged attendance of over 120 people per show since it opened late last semester, Maturo said
“It’s a great theater in a great location,” Davi Bernstein ’03 said. “Students have the chance to grab a bite to eat before or after the show right nearby.”
The Broadway redevelopment project is part of a large retail revitalization plan for New Haven.
“The Broadway district has traditionally been retail at the ground level with a mix of retail, office space and services on the upper floors,” said Tom Violante, the University’s assistant director for institutional issues. “The upgrading of properties purchased and owned by Yale has brought new vitality and excitement to a major section of the downtown’s retail area.”