Afternoon Update: Governor Jodi Rell is determined to shoehorn a juvenile detention center for girls on the Upper East Side. She’s moving ahead to approve the dough through the State Bond Commission that she chairs. Ya know what I say … stick it in Brookfield! Thanks to Bob Fredericks for the heads-up on this. See Bob’s post and attached AP story under comments.
Despite a cranky economy there’s some stuff going on that has downtown poised for new growth.
One of the unsung stories of the decade is the recent partnership between Norwalk-based Forstone Capital and Spinnaker Real Estate Partners that has elevated the real estate concerns among the top property owners in the city. The partnership, called Main Street Ventures, purchased from People’s United Bank two prime city blocks that includes seven buildings totaling 255,000 square feet. Tenants include a variety of restaurants, professional services companies and non-profits such as Casey Family Services and Playhouse on the Green.
I’ve chatted with Kim Morque, a principal with Main Street Ventures, and he’s clearly a guy who sounds like he’s committed to the city long term focused on historic preservation. I’ve also chatted with a number of associated tenants who say the partnership has been accommodating in working through lease negotiations during challenging economic times.
Before the economy cratered several down county and New York-based developers saw opportunities in the state’s largest city. For one thing, for all the chatter about high Bridgeport taxes, the city offers opportunities for investors against the astronomical cost of doing business along the Gold Coast of Fairfield County.
I’m hoping that in 2010 the city steps up and markets its destination points to drive folks downtown and entice additional investors. When the city marketed destination points–ballpark, museums, zoo, local theater, seaport–attendance was up. There’s a direct connection between the marketing blackout and downward attendance at Bluefish games. The Downtown Special Services District has launched a joint promotion between downtown restaurants and first-class shows at the 1,400-seat Klein Auditorium, a sweet facility.
If the city ponies up some dough with the business community in a joint marketing effort more bodies will flood downtown. And a key component to this is Phil Kuchma’s Bijou Square project on Fairfield Avenue where the city has the start of a nice restaurant district that includes Épernay Bistro, Café Roma, Two Boots and Joseph’s Steakhouse. Looks like Kuchma has his financing reloaded for January to finish the housing portion of the development to beef up downtown residents.
And another component: more than 10,000 professionals work downtown, another 5,000 students attend Housatonic Community College, the highest trafficked community college in the state. A marketing effort can reinforce the restaurants and attractions within walking distance.
Let’s eat downtown!!! Speaking of downtown, news release from the Barnum Museum:
Meet a Disney On IceSM Princess at The Barnum Museum on Wednesday
On Wednesday, December 30 from 1:00-2:00 p.m. The Barnum Museum will be hosting a special holiday week children’s program. Children will learn about Victorian Christmas traditions and create a tree ornament. Then a skater from Disney On Ice presents Princess Classics will read a story to everyone. All of the children at the event will receive one complimentary pass to attend one of the Disney On Ice presents Princess Classics performances at the Arena at Harbor Yard from December 30 through January 3, and have the royal opportunity to meet and have their pictures taken with Princess Cinderella.
What: Children learn about Victorian Christmas traditions, create an ornament and meet Princess Cinderella
When: Wednesday, December 30 from 1:00 -2:00 p.m.
Where: The Barnum Museum, 820 Main Street, Bridgeport, CT
R.S.V.P. to Jaime Knoedler at 203-331-1104 ext. 102
Cost: The program is free with General Museum Admission
Adults: $7, Seniors and college students: $5, Children 4 – 17: $4, Under 4: Free
Regular Barnum Museum Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Sunday, Noon – 4:30 p.m