The area immediately surrounding Yale is about to see a flurry of new business offerings.
This November, University Properties — the University-owned realtor of many buildings surrounding campus — will open seven new businesses in the area surrounding Yale’s campus, featuring a mix of clothing retailers, restaurants and other merchants. Among the new businesses are Kiko Milano, a European cosmetics store, and Emporium DNA, a high-end clothing boutique, which will fill the long-vacant space at the corner of York and Broadway. UP will host a grand opening evening for all seven businesses on Nov. 25, when Yale students are on Thanksgiving break.
“We’re very thoughtful about making sure throughout the districts that we have a good mix and blend of tenants. And that’s across different product offerings, across different price points,” said Lauren Zucker, assistant director for New Haven and state affairs. “We’re a very diverse community, so we want to have something that appeals to people from all different backgrounds and pocketbooks and the like.”
Barbour, an upscale British clothing store, and Lou Lou, an accessories store — two of the other businesses slated to set up shop in the Elm City — will join Kiko Milano and DNA on Broadway. Joining the retail offerings on Chapel Street are the Extra Virgin Oil Store, a handcrafted olive oil store, and Harvest, a self-proclaimed “farm to table” restaurant. Tarry Lodge, the Italian restaurant and pizzeria located on Park Street next to Box 63, will also host a grand opening, even though it opened for business earlier this month.
Mayor Toni Harp, in conjunction with UP, will officiate the midday celebratory openings.
Both Zucker and Bruce Alexander ’65, vice president for New Haven and state affairs, stressed that the main reason for opening several businesses in a short period of time was to ensure the stores could open their doors before holiday shopping — the time of year when businesses conduct the majority of their transactions.
UP spent extensive time deciding which retailers to put at these locations, including the coveted location at the corner of York and Broadway.
Zucker said that because of 1 Broadway’s space as a prominent corner in UP’s portolio, the criteria for the search were not only to find something unique, but also a retailer that would draw both outside shoppers and residents alike to downtown. Zucker said that, through extensive surveys at events like College Nights — evenings of discounted shopping, free food and live music in the Broadway Shopping District — the Office of New Haven and State Affairs found that many students believe that New Haven does not have a reliable place to buy cosmetics. This common response, along with the prospect that New Haven would be the first U.S. city outside of Europe to house a Kiko Milano, was what ultimately drew UP towards the cosmetics store, according to Zucker.
But after the University announced the two new tenants for 1 Broadway, some students expressed dissatisfaction, noting that they would have preferred to see a drugstore or a late-night diner.
“We certainly want to consider Yale students as part of the shopping community that we’re serving, and Kiko is a great example of that because student focus groups always say that they can’t find cosmetics, and we had to make a little operation in the bookstore just to try and satisfy that need before Kiko came along,” Alexander said. “But the Broadway shopping area cannot be successful if we rely on just the Yale community to support it.”
Alexander said that, when he first came to New Haven, Broadway was a collection of barbershops, liquor stores and vacancies. He stressed that the reason the area is so different now is because it attracts enough shoppers to keep it alive and vital.
Michael Morand ’87 DIV ’93 added he believes New Haven’s retail mix is “the best it’s been in decades,” saying that the new businesses will create even greater traffic for existing businesses. Former Mayor John DeStefano said that although he has no idea what student retail preferences are, he thinks that business for retailers downtown is largely dependent on local residential traffic.
“It’s not a regional shopping center,” DeStefano said.
Stephen Clemente, owner of the Extra Virgin Oil Store, added that his olive oil store that opened in Mystic, Connecticut three years ago attracts a fair number of undergraduate students from that area and expects to see a large number of Yale students shopping at the New Haven location.
Clemente said that he expects to see a wide range of clientele, although the majority of his customers are what he calls “discriminating food buyers.”
Because of the somewhat limited shopping needs of the Yale population, as well as the extended periods of time when students are absent from campus, UP must also cater to a diverse city population and those visiting from out of town to consistently drive traffic to businesses downtown.
“There’s a perspective that says every space should somehow be measured by how it serves Yale students, and that just will not create a successful collection of retails shops there,” Alexander said. “And, so we need a successful shopping area that will appeal to a wider community.”