Rising prices at Gourmet Heaven have sparked new questions surrounding the market’s future in the final months of its lease.
Prices at Gourmet Heaven have risen by an average of 50 cents in the past two weeks, according to Adam Juarez, who has worked at the market since its opening in 2001. A pack of gum costs about 25 cents more, he added, and the price of a steak, egg and cheese sandwich has increased by 75 cents.
Chung Cho, the owner of Gourmet Heaven, was unavailable for comment Wednesday, but Juarez said that the product costs have risen in response to the increased price of the lease. In addition, with Yale set to terminate the market’s lease in June 2015, Juarez said that Gourmet Heaven hopes to renew the lease despite the rise in rental prices. He added that representatives from UP and Gourmet Heaven are meeting in the next couple of weeks to discuss the lease renewal.
According to several business owners, the costs of leases for University-owned properties have been increasing over the past couple of years. The reason for the increase in rental prices, however, may just be due to inflation — an adjustment common in regular business practice.
While she did not comment directly on Juarez’s claims, Associate Vice President for University Properties and New Haven Affairs Lauren Zucker said rental prices of Yale-owned properties often face regular contractual increases to account for inflation.
“We do tend to do inflation adjustments in our leases so perhaps that is what they are referring to,” Zucker wrote in an email.
Local business owners Matt Feiner and Claire Criscuolo both confirmed that an increase to account for inflation in rent is automatically built into leases with University Properties. Feiner is the owner of Devil’s Gear Bike Shop on Orange Street and rented his second location on Chapel Street from UP until 2008, while Criscuolo is the owner of Claire’s Corner Copia.
However, several business owners and managers said rising prices from UP make owning local businesses around Yale more difficult and makes the locations more viable for chain stores.
Feiner said UP has worked to make Broadway a more successful business location by attracting more chain stores to the area rather than locally owned businesses. But Juarez said this approach to recruiting new businesses has put strain on relationships between business owners and UP.
“Rental prices on Broadway are going up because [UP is] looking for chain stores that can operate off other chain stores,” Feiner said. “They have a vision and they seem to be going ahead with it, [but] it’s kind of frustrating because they’ve priced out some stores.”
While Broadway and Chapel rental rates have steadily increased more than other locations in New Haven, UP has also helped attract significant foot traffic to these areas around campus, Feiner said.
Crisculo said UP has helped her business grow. By paying a fee to have Claire’s be a part of the “The Shops at Yale,” a group which Gourmet Heaven is not a part of, Crisculo said she benefits from UP’s marketing program, which can reach out to more potential customers than she could herself.
Further, Criscuolo said that while rental prices have been steadily increasing throughout the area and that she would naturally prefer to have cheaper rental prices, renting solely to locally owned businesses would be a strategically unwise decision for University Properties.
“Small businesses have higher turnovers,” she said. “Corporations have more resources to ensure stability and funds for promotion and rent.”