Imagine finishing a late class and walking to Broadway for a snack only to see storefronts closed for the evening. Imagine going to Broadway for a night-time study session, only to realize that no coffee shops remain open.
This is the Broadway that Yale students knew before the University initiated its program of including an “hours of operation” clause in its leases with Broadway merchants, a clause that requires such stores to stay open past 6 p.m. When Yale goes into lease negotiations with new businesses — or with businesses whose leases are up for renewal — Yale asks that each lease include the “hours of operation” clause.
“The clause only applies to new tenants and those existing tenants who have renewed their leases with us,” said Andrea Pizziconi, financial analyst for University Properties.
Thus, even merchants not currently under Yale’s “hours of operation” clause will have to fall under the clause to renew their lease. Such an agreement allows Yale to require Broadway businesses to stay open until a specified time, but these times may vary for each store.
“Each lease is negotiated separately,” Pizziconi said.
Yale implemented this policy after consulting with both Yale students and New Haven residents through discussions and surveys.
“We held focus groups with students and late hours were a clear priority for them,” Pizziconi said. “Students are night creatures.”
Before Yale started its policy of including “hours of operation” clauses, Pizziconi said Broadway was dark at 6 p.m. Now, Pizziconi is able to recount examples of the positive effects Yale’s leasing method has had on Broadway — many of which include lucrative benefits for Broadway businesses.
“We asked Au Bon Pain to stay open until 12 a.m., and their sales increased 65 percent,” she said.
But Yale’s decision to include “hours of operation” clauses has not been advantageous to all businesses. Some Broadway shop owners said extended hours create night shifts and that it can be difficult to find employees who are willing to work long evening hours.
“It’s tough — nobody wanted to work night shifts,” said Lee Jackson, owner of Koffee and Koffee too? Jackson keeps his store on Broadway open until 12 a.m. during weekdays.
Furthermore, merchants are not always willing to sign a lease containing the “hours of operation” stipulations. Willoughby’s — whose former York Street site is now occupied by Koffee too? — did not renew its lease for its location on Broadway, partly because of disagreements over the “hours of operation” clause.
“They [Yale] had a run-in with Willoughby’s,” Jackson said.
Jackson added that Willoughby’s disagreement with Yale’s lease stipulations was so intense that the vice-president of the corporation that formerly owned Willoughby’s allegedly told Jackson that he would lose money staying open so late.
But Jackson said he could not be happier with business during late hours — he is even considering extending weekend hours until 1 a.m. or 2 a.m.
Many Broadway merchants share Pizziconi’s and Jackson’s enthusiasm for requiring businesses to stay open later, citing busy streets and increased sales during evening hours.
“The nights down here have been crazy — that’s when all the student’s are around,” said Phil Cutler, owner of Cutler’s music store. “You’re paying rent on your building 24 hours a day, so why not stay open later?”
Many times, Yale’s policy has no effect on merchants’ regular operating hours.
“We would be open until this time normally,” said James Tirrell, an employee at Campus Clothing, which stays open until 9 p.m. during weekdays.
However, such university involvement in businesses surrounding a campus is not unique to Yale, and also occurs at Columbia, Harvard, and the University of Pennsylvania.
“[Yale’s policy] is pretty standard practice in the real estate industry”, said Pizziconi.
In fact, Bruce Alexander, Yale vice president of New Haven and State Affairs, brought the idea of including such stipulations from his experience in real estate.
“Merchants with evening hours serve the University more effectively,” Alexander said through Pizziconi. “A critical mass of such retailers — will attract suburban shoppers in increasing numbers.”
Chapel Street may be next to adopt the “hours of operation” stipulations. Chapel Street stores will fall under Yale’s extended hours policy when 75 percent of University-owned stores adopt the “hours of operation” clauses in their leases.
“Chapel Street will eventually stay open later too,” Pizziconi said. “But many merchants already choose to take advantage of the existing evening traffic with later operating hours.”