Connecticut Main Street Center


Vol.13, Issue 11

Inspiring great Connecticut downtowns, Main Street by Main Street.

Downtown Update

Newsletter of the Connecticut Main Street Center

CMSC Wins CCAPA Award! 


The CCAPA logo Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association (CCAPA) has chosen CMSC as the recipient of the 2013 Education & Outreach Award for its "Come Home to Downtown" initiative. Through the Come Home to Downtown program, CMSC and its team of expert consultants worked with community leaders, local stakeholders, and downtown management groups to educate them on the value and potential of mixed-use development. We also sought input and feedback from the public at community meetings held in each of the towns on the plans for redeveloping the model buildings and the demand for downtown housing.


CCAPA is the Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association, the national organization of professional planners and citizens involved in planning communities. CCAPA is dedicated to advancing the practice of good planning in Connecticut. Every year, CCAPA solicits nominations for notable planning projects in a variety of categories from public service and citizen planners to physical development and plan implementation. The 2013 Education & Outreach Award will be presented to CMSC at CCAPA's Annual Award Luncheon at the Inn at Middletown on December 6th. For more information on the Come Home to Downtown Program, please visit our website.  

CMSC Frames Opportunities & Obstacles to Mixed-Use Development in New Report    


CMSCCome Home to Downtown logo recently unveiled its final report on the findings from the first year of its Come Home to Downtown program. This report identified seven key findings regarding the obstacles and opportunities for mixed-use development in Connecticut, specifically housing above first-floor commercial space.


Come Home to Downtown is a pilot program CMSC created to facilitate viable, interesting housing opportunities while revitalizing downtown neighborhoods after it was contracted by the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA) in 2012 to promote housing in Connecticut's downtowns. This new report from CMSC reveals several encouraging factors surrounding mixed-use development. For instance, there is a lot of demand among young Millenials and Baby Boomers who want to live in walkable communities where this type of development is common. Dovetailed with this is a wealth of opportunity to create and encourage mixed-use development in Connecticut's downtowns, as this is primarily where the infrastructure already exists to support buildings with housing above commercial space.


However, our work with the Come Home to Downtown communities also highlighted several obstacles to this critical development. Chief among these is a severe lack of financing. Education and outreach to owners of these under-utilized buildings is also needed, as they are often unaware of the potential benefit in redeveloping their buildings and unprepared for the complexities of obtaining financing.  


In addition to the release of the report, CMSC is also pleased to announce CHFA is supporting our work by renewing our contract to implement Year 2 of this program. CMSC will continue to work with the communities and property owners from Come Home to Downtown's first year as we move forward in selecting two new communities and property owners to receive customized technical assistance.
New Britain Debuts "Head-Out" Angled Parking; Implements Complete Streets Initiatives

New Britain is rapidly becoming a leader when it comes to innovation and progress around designing streets for all users - otherwise known as Complete Streets. Not only did they recently complete their HUD-funded Complete Streets Manual (a process that took two years) but they are also introducing several other initiatives that are sure to captivate visitors and residents alike.


This brochure describes the new head-out angled parking debuting on Chestnut Street in New Britain.

Here at CMSC we are especially intrigued by the state's first use of "Head-Out" angled parking, as well as the road diet under construction at New Britain's largest intersection. Both of these concepts were raised by speakers at our Complete Streets workshop in July 2012, leaving the audience fascinated and curious as to how they could be implemented here in Connecticut. It seems New Britain discovered the secret, as this brochure describing the new "Head Out" parking demonstrates. Not only does backing into the angled spot give the driver of the parked car more visibility when exiting the space, it also protects children and adults who are now shielded from on-coming traffic. This simple change provides an ingenious solution that protects drivers, passengers, bicyclists and others while providing more parking than traditional parallel spaces.


Another initiative under construction is the dramatic road diet at New Britain's largest intersection where Main Street, Chestnut Street and Arch Street converge. For those who may not know, a "road diet" is when the roadway is shrunk, usually to allow more space for pedestrians, bicyclists or parking. A good example is taking a four lane road (two lanes going in each direction) and shrinking it by say, keeping one lane going in each direction and creating a third turning lane, used by cars travelling in either direction. The space previously used for the fourth lane of traffic can then be re-designed into a bike lane, wider sidewalks, or dedicated to parking or bus stops.  


New Britain's Director of Public Works, Mark Moriarty, P.E. is very proud of the progress they have made to date - with good reason. New Britain has accomplished much in a short time, and with the kind of forward-thinking innovation that is both needed and increasingly in demand here in Connecticut. These changes are redefining New Britain's downtown, creating a more inviting, walkable setting that will dovetail nicely with the CTfastrak station opening in 2015. It also exemplifies what another of our speakers said during our Creating Transit Villages workshop this past summer - we don't need to wait for transit to arrive to start creating walkable neighborhoods. New Britain, with the dedication of Mark Moriarty and many others, is putting these words into action, creating neighborhoods that accommodate all users, not just cars.


We applaud New Britain for their inspiring achievements and invite you to view their website for more information.
Collection of Women-Owned Businesses Attracts Visitors to Downtown Waterbury

Susan Occhino, owner of The Dutch Flower Lady, is one of the "Business Women of Grand Street" helping to attract new visitors to downtown Waterbury.

Waterbury's Grand Street has a long history of welcoming visitors to the City. In the early 1900's, travelers arriving by train were greeted by the stunning complex of municipal buildings designed by Cass Gilbert.


Over time, as the City's wealth declined, so did this street. However, a resurgence is occurring, led by the renovation of City Hall, and now by an increase in businesses and shops along the famed street. Interestingly, many of these businesses are owned or operated by women. So many, in fact, that these "Businesswomen of Grand Street" are becoming an attraction themselves. Earlier this year Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman toured several of the shops as part of a visit hosted by the Waterbury Development Corporation.


The shops are quite diverse and feature a range of services including a florist, hair and nail salon, law office specializing in technology forensics, rare book dealer, fine jeweler and a well-known diner. Also found on Grand Street are a lingerie shop that is also one of the few non-medical, accredited establishments where women can reliably find post-surgery prosthetics, and the Brass City Market on Field (a 2013 CMSC Award of Excellence Winner that you can read more about below).


Perhaps the best aspect of these shops is the way they are feeding off each other. As one shop draws in foot traffic and visitors delivered with ease from the nearby I-84 and Rt. 8, they are staying to visit and explore the other shops and services available along the street. In this way, people who may have come for one of the rare bulbs at The Dutch Flower Lady are now staying for lunch at Dottie's 2.


Together these women-owned small enterprises are bringing greater attention to Grand Street, bringing with it increased sales and a renewed spirit in what the downtown and Waterbury have to offer.


Many thanks to Adele DeFrancesco, Co-Chair of Main Street Waterbury's Economic Restructuring Committee and her article, "The Business Women of Grand Street" for the June 23, 2013 Celebrating Downtown special section of the Sunday Republican.
Spotlight on 2013 Award of Excellence - Main Street Partnership Awarded
Sponsored by Webster Bank

Awarded to: Brass City Harvest, Main Street Waterbury, Naugatuck Valley Community College, Waterbury Development Corporation and the City of Waterbury
for "Brass City Market on Field" Indoor Farm Market in Downtown Waterbury  


Brass City Market on Field 
Brass City Market on Field brings fresh produce and Connecticut-sourced goods to Watebury residents all year long.

Let's begin with the impact of this partnership:

  1. A long-vacant, historically significant building in the central business district has been restored for commercial purposes.
  2. Pedestrian traffic in the downtown area has increased.
  3. New business and networking opportunities have been created between local restaurants, merchants, and other businesses.
  4. Three Waterbury-based artisans and businesses are being supported, as well as 21 other Connecticut farms, dairies, specialty food entrepreneurs, and artisans.
  5. The need for access to healthy, nutritious, and fresh food in the downtown central business district is being addressed.

Brass City Market on Field is a unique indoor, year-round farmers' market that only sells those agricultural produce and products (meat and dairy) that are raised or produced in the State of Connecticut. Situated at the intersection of downtown Waterbury's commercial and municipal districts, Brass City Market is part of an overarching community food system that is managed by Brass City Harvest, a 501(c)(3) non-profit agricultural organization in Waterbury. The establishment of this indoor market is significant to the citizens of the City of Waterbury because it is located on a local bus route in a food desert area, as denoted by the USDA in its Food Desert Locator Map. People who live in a food desert do not have easy access to fresh produce, healthy grains, low-fat dairy and other nutritionally sound whole foods.  The creation of this market addresses that deficiency.


In addition, this market is significant to downtown - and all of Waterbury - because it has fostered the re-use of an architecturally significant building located in a Cass Gilbert historic district that was vacant for 30 years. Giving new life to this building has also increased retail commerce and visibility that can aid in the economic development and marketing of downtown Waterbury.


Brass City Market on Field is the result of years of groundwork that was initiated by Main Street Waterbury when it operated the first seasonal farmers' market on The Green eight years ago. That successful venture was transitioned to Brass City Harvest five years ago as the logical next step in the evolution of this successful downtown program.


Two years ago a team was formed between Brass City Harvest, Main Street Waterbury, and Naugatuck Valley Community College that sought (and won) funds from the Connecticut Department of Agriculture's Farm Viability Grant Program to fund a feasibility study to gauge consumer acceptance of a year-round farmers' market in the downtown area. Various facets of this study were undertaken by each project partner. Brass City Harvest was the overall project manager and compiled the data into a final report to the Connecticut Department of Agriculture. Main Street Waterbury and interns and professional staff from Naugatuck Valley Community College carried out consumer surveys on The Green during the seasonal farmers' market and around the downtown area. Main Street Waterbury conducted short focus group sessions with several downtown merchants to determine their position on the potential of the entrepreneurial project. Main Street Waterbury and Brass City Harvest worked together to find a suitable and economically feasible downtown location to be the new home of the year round farmers' market.


Waterbury Development Corporation was the first to offer crucial business start-up loan funding for building improvements. A private philanthropic group financed inventory procurement and personnel. Good, old-fashioned fundraising activities supplied the rest.


Opening day brought in 235 customers, demonstrating immediate public interest. Approximately 75% are repeat customers. The Market supports a total of 24 Connecticut farms, diaries, specialty food entrepreneurs, and artisans. The variety of items offered has increased by 100% since opening day. And the monthly "Eat Like a Locavore" nutrition and cooking classes held at the market host an average of 20 participants.


The synergy between the project partners gave rise to a unique entity that is a cross between an upscale boutique and a genuine New England country store in the heart of Waterbury's government district. This indoor farmers' market makes affordable fresh food and Connecticut specialty food products accessible to all consumer demographics.


From filling a vacant building, to providing fresh produce to an underserved area, to showcasing Connecticut grown and produced food, this market contributes to the realization of Main Street's mission for downtown Waterbury, and further demonstrates that all is possible when partnerships are forged and groups work together.

Congratulations, Brass City Market on Field! 

Pictures from the 2013 Awards Gala have been posted to our Facebook page. We invite you to view the camaraderie and communal inspiration that was evident in the many smiling, proud faces of the awards winners and their supporters. Learn more about the winning initiatives and individuals here.

Re-Mains of the Day 


2014 Preservation of Place (POP) grant applications due November 19. Final applications are due from those CMSC members in good standing who submitted pre-applications and were invited to move forward with the full application. All applicants will be notified by the end of the calendar year whether they have been awarded a grant.     

2014 Awards of Excellence - Call for Entries coming soon! CMSC member communities should keep an eye on their inboxes in early December. That's when we'll be issuing our call for entries for CMSC's 2014 Awards of Excellence. There are some exciting changes this year, so be sure to check your email for additional information.


Sandy Hook Phase 1: Preliminary Presentation Available - View Arnett Muldrow & Associates' Phase 1: Market Analysis/Community Branding preliminary presentation here. This presentation is the result of a three-day marketing and brand development visit. The local merchants and town officials reviewed this material; next the CMSC team will present the final branding and marketing campaign in late November.


▪  How rice can explain traffic jams and other interesting topics covered in recent Placemaking workshop. Nearly 70 people attended CMSC's workshop, The Many Faces of Placemaking, held at The Lyceum on October 25. Participants heard from many interesting speakers on the different aspects of successful placemaking, including making art accessible, the importance of street design in creating an inclusive environment, how to encourage and incorporate cultural diversity, and how professional management of public spaces is beneficial.

Grant Writing Seminar: Private, Corporate & Government Grants - Norwich Community Development Corporation (NCDC) is hosting two seminars on grant writing. These seminars are designed for the staff or volunteers of community/school groups seeking information about researching, writing and submitting grants. All participants will learn about the process as well as those of private and corporate foundations. The seminars take place on Friday, November 22 at NCDC's offices in Norwich. The fee is $65 for one session or both for $100. Click here for more information. 


If you have information about events happening in your downtown, captivating pictures of your Main Street or news regarding your organization that you would like to share in our monthly newsletter, please let us know.  

President's Message 

New Ideas Build on Past Concepts  

Reading through this month's edition of Downtown Update a theme emerges - the idea of solving modern problems by adding a twist to established concepts. For instance, we were thrilled to announce our Come Home to Downtown program was just announced the winner of a CCAPA award for Education & Outreach. Yet, the idea of creating walkable town centers where people can live, work and play - and locate more than one of those activities in a single building - is not a new one. Indeed, most of the world's great cities were founded on this type of infrastructure and still thrive today because of it. However, the idea of working with individual communities, downtown management functions and owners of small downtown properties in a collaborative fashion to comprehensively address this need is rather unique. After first identifying the obstacles and opportunities to mixed-use development in Connecticut through our final report, CMSC will work with state agencies, community funding institutions and others to innovate new ideas for financing mechanisms and funding streams. As we move into the program's second year we will continue to expand our outreach and education to these downtown property owners, calling on our statewide network of member communities to share this knowledge with their own downtown property owners.


This type of creative problem-solving is occurring at the local level too. Just look at our 2013 Award of Excellence winner Brass City Market on Field. Here again we see a new twist on an old idea. Rather than close the farmer's market at the end of the growing season, Brass City Market on Field has moved the market indoors, offering fresh local winter greens over the winter months, in addition to Connecticut grown products like free-range meats, handmade candles, soaps and other goods. Now Waterbury's visitors and residents can enjoy Connecticut's bounty all year long.


Persistence and creativity is again exemplified in New Britain where innovation is taking root to improve people's lives. Although the idea that streets should be safe for all users has been around for decades, the implementation of many traffic designs over the last sixty years or so meant the reality was streets were designed to efficiently move cars from place to place - not buses, bikes or pedestrians. But New Britain isn't afraid to change. It's fantastic that they've just launched "head-out" angled parking. One of our speakers at last year's Complete Streets workshops mentioned this concept and left the audience buzzing about this ingenious, simple change that makes the streets safer for everyone. By simply backing into the parking space, shoppers can remain safe on the curb as they load their bags in the trunk. Children are protected from passing cars as open doors now act as safeguards instead of barriers. New Britain is implementing these and many other ideas described in their Complete Streets Master Plan, returning the roads and sidewalks to all users through bold design and implementation of their creative strategic plans.


They say everything old is new again, and that seems to be true - with a twist anyway. Using creative, innovative ideas to solve modern problems is one of the things Main Streeters do best. It's that enterprising spirit that keeps our downtowns the lively, vibrant town centers that have attracted visitors and residents for years. And it's that same spirit that will allow them to thrive well into the future 


Connecticut Main Street Center

c/o CL&P

PO Box 270 

Hartford, CT 06141



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In This Issue
CMSC Wins CCAPA Award!

CMSC Frames Opportunities & Obstacles to Mixed-Use Development in New Report 


New Britain Debuts "Head-Out" Angled Parking; Implements Complete Streets Initiatives  


Collection of Women-Owned Businesses Attract Visitors to Downtown Waterbury

Spotlight on 2013 Award of Excellence: Waterbury's Brass City Market on Field
Re-Mains of the Day - 2014 POP Grant Final Applications Due; 2014 CMSC Awards Of Excellence Call for Entries Coming Soon; Sandy Hook Preliminary Branding Presentation Available; Recent Placemaking DRI Covers Interestesting Topics; NCDC Hosts Grant Writing Seminar
President's Message:
New Ideas Build on Past Concepts
We love our supporters!

CT State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO)

The State Historic Preservation Office administers a range of federal and state programs that identify, register and protect the buildings, sites, structures, districts and objects that comprise Connecticut's cultural heritage.


Originally established as the Connecticut Historical Commission in 1955, the agency was merged into the Commission on Culture & Tourism in 2003 then moved again in 2011 to their current home in the Dept. of Economic and Community Development (DECD).


To CMSC, SHPO has long been a supporter of our work and of Connecticut's downtowns. It is through them that we are able to provide Preservation of Place grants to our member communities. They also promote and process the use of historic tax credits to preserve our historic buildings.


Here's a sampling of how their support has helped us champion great downtowns:


- From 2008-2013, a total of $376,130 was awarded to 20 different Connecticut communities through CMSCs Preservation of Place grant program, leveraging $842,727 in preservation and revitalization initiatives.


- These grants provide a source of funding for new initiatives that can be integrated into, and leverage, more comprehensive preservation and revitalization programs in our downtowns and Main Street Districts.



Upcoming Events

2014 POP Grant Applications Due to CMSC

November 19  


NCDC Hosts Grant Writing Seminars  

November 22

Register & More Info 


CMSC Offices Closed for Thanksgiving 

November 28-29


Small Business Saturday 

November 30

More Info 


CMSC Issues 2014 Awards of Excellence Call for Entries

December 2


Come Home to Downtown Applications Due  

December 11


CMSC Offices Closed for Christmas

December 25


CMSC Offices Closed for New Year's Day

January 1


CMSC DRI Workshop

The Lyceum 

January 24 


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Odds & Ends

Saturday, November 30th is Small Business Saturday

Did you know more than 50% of the money spent at small and local businesses is kept in the community?

Support yours by shopping local on Saturday, November 30.

Click here for more info.

Proprietor Andrew Gutt admires the "Coming Soon" sign over his front door in 2009.

Congratulations Cafemantic!

Willimantic's favorite coffeeshop/gourmet eatery celebrated their 4-year anniversary on November 14, 2013.  We wish Andrew and his crew all the best. 

Here's to many more! 
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