New Haven, Part I

In Retail Thoughts on March 16, 2010 at 8:17 pm

I just got back from a quick day-trip to New Haven. Why? First, to visit Blue State Coffee, CityRetail’s newest client – more on BSC tomorrow. Second, the Yale owned section of New Haven has an amazing retail story and I’ve been due for a tour. My tour guide was David Newton, Director of University Properties at Yale from 2002 – 2007. David’s team oversaw the transformation of New Haven’s retail scene. It’s impressive. Walking the city with David was great; his knowledge, excitement and enthusiasm about New Haven retail is tremendous and infectious.

Yale took an incredibly deliberate and aggressive approach to bringing life to the areas surrounding its campus. University Properties actively recruited desirable tenants, thought hard about tenant mix and structured deals that were sensitive to tenant start-up and operational issues (sound familiar?). The approach also had/has a paternal element to it… Yale uses a form lease that requires businesses offer certain goods, be open certain hours and report monthly sales. It’s controversial at times but undeniably effective.

Yale’s retail development team understands that developing a neighborhood takes time, diligence and cooperation. There are no shortcuts. We can learn a lot from what Yale did.  If it can work in New Haven it can work in Kendall.

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