After a decade of design, development, and, at times, controversy, the University filled in the final blank in its plan to revamp the Broadway district this summer, pencilling in clothing retailer J.Crew for the last open space on the retail strip.
The clothing giant, which signed a 10-year contract, is scheduled to open its store in February 2002.
This is the second national chain the University has brought to Broadway in the past year, and although some merchants and residents are worried this is changing the character of downtown from mom-and-pop stores to a corporate retail mecca, others were pleased with the additions.
“I think it’s going over very well,” said Koffee Too owner Terry Jackson. “Urban Outfitters and J.Crew will really draw more people from outside New Haven to the area, as well as develop the area itself.”
The Broadway redevelopment is part of the University’s plan to revitalize the commercial boundaries of Yale’s campus. University officials said the project will soon be complete, having turned out even better than they had originally hoped.
“The reception is that it has come out better than expected,” said University Properties Director John Maturo. “The amount of traffic going through the stores and the overall appearance of the buildings has shocked people.”
Maturo added that only 20 percent of the University’s commercial property holdings are large national chains and that the redevelopment has tried to maintain a balance of local merchants and big names.
Maturo said J.Crew is an ideal tenant for the new Broadway.
“It serves a broader spectrum of the community, and therefore it will increase traffic on Broadway substantially,” he said of the addition of J.Crew. “Anytime you can increase traffic in the area, it’s good for New Haven.”
Other changes in recent months have brought new faces to the block and left a vacancy on York Street.
Krauszer’s, a popular 24-hour convenience store on York Street, closed its doors over the summer because its lease ran out. Students can now shop at Gourmet Heaven, down the street.
The expansion of Koffee Too was another change that University officials believe will make the district an attractive destination for people in and out of New Haven.
Until Yale finds a tenant to fill the void left by Krauszer’s, it will use the space to display the wares of other merchants in the Chapel-Broadway area.
“We’ve been looking at student surveys and student comments,” Maturo said. “We’re trying to do things that the students have an interest in and consequently benefit the community.”
Maturo added that improvements downtown will give Yale’s image a boost against Ivy League rivals in urban destinations such as Providence and Cambridge.