Downtown Update

Newsletter of the Connecticut Main Street Center


Vol.14, Issue 2 

Inspiring great Connecticut downtowns, Main Street by Main Street.
Waterbury Window Display Grant Program Shows Signs of Success   


The Fashion Addict window gets an update.
Three downtown merchants are getting the chance to attract more customers thanks to a new grant program from CMSC Designated Member Main Street Waterbury (MSW). The new program aims to attract additional customers by providing a design consultant to meet with local shop keepers on updating their window displays.


The program is administered by Main Street Waterbury's Economic Restructuring Committee with the approval of the MSW Board of Directors. The committee received a total of six applications, awarding three $500 grants after a competitive scoring process. MSW engaged design specialist Amy Kirby of As You Like It Design, LLC to provide the display consultations. Ms. Kirby, who has extensive experience working in several malls throughout Connecticut, worked closely with the merchants to get the right look and theme for their windows. The three merchants selected for the grants are:

  • The Fashion Addict Consignment Boutique, Grand Street - The shop completed its design upgrade and now has a trendy new look.
  • Socks-N-Tops Outlet, South Main Street - This window is the most challenging and will require a significant redesign. Pictured at right is Amy meeting with shop keeper John Fletcher.
  • Dutch Flower Lady, Grand Street - The grant is being used to pay for materials to build platforms to showcase the shop's beautiful flower arrangements. 

If the program proves successful, Main Street Waterbury will offer the grants again this year. 

Middlesex Chamber of Commerce Hosts Affordable Housing Seminar 


Photo by Michael T. Lyle Jr. - The Middletown Press Sen. Richard Blumenthal speaks at the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce breakfast session.

CMSC was in attendance as Senator Richard Blumenthal addressed the crowd at Middlesex Chamber of Commerce's recent event on Affordable Housing. Keynote speaker Senator Blumenthal addressed a broad range of topics, including the need to create more jobs in the state.


Hand-in-hand with the need for more workers is the need for more affordable housing. David Fink of the Partnership for Strong Communities described the scope of the demand in Middlesex County during the subsequent seminar focused on affordable housing in Middlesex County. Eric Chatman, President-Executive Director of the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority, followed this up with a presentation on what his agency is doing to assist low- and moderate-income families and individuals. He also mentioned Come Home to Downtown, a program administered by CMSC in partnership with CHFA that aims to revitalize small, under-utilized downtown properties by creating housing over first floor commercial space. While not specifically targeted as "affordable," for many of these buildings, the market rate rent for the apartments is the same as HUD affordable rental rates.

CMSC recently began the second year of its Come Home to Downtown program and will continue to work with CHFA on identifying and creating financing options for this type of critical mixed-use development.
Green Downtowns Bring Communities Together

An enthusiastic crowd gathered for CMSC's first Downtown Revitalization Institute (DRI) workshop of the year in late January as nearly sixty people braved the cold for Main Street is the Greenest Street: Sustainable Strategies for Your Town. Over the course of the day participants heard from experts on how "green" activities are not only better for the environment, but they also help strengthen ties to and among the community. For instance, in New Haven, Common Ground High School is creating future land use advocates by having the school children grow fruits and vegetables, using gardening as a "gateway" civic activity. The parents rave that their kids are eating healthy foods and coming home thrilled that they got work in the gardens. For her part, Emily Hultquist from the Capitol Region Council of Governments (CRCOG) reminded the audience to think B-I-G when it comes sustainable design: Barriers - remove them; Incentives - create them; Gaps - fill them.


This is just a tiny sampling of the many captivating, practical topics discussed during the day. If you're curious to know more or want to review what you heard, all the speakers' presentations are available on CMSC's website.


Chris Ozyck,Urban Resources Initiative, presented this slide during his presentation on how New Haven is creating partnerships that engage the community in greening their neighborhoods.
Spotlight on 2013 Awards of Excellence - Main Street Volunteers of the Year
Carol Gendron, Waterbury Main Street

Carol Gendron has played an active role in helping Main Street Waterbury revitalize downtown Waterbury.
Since the start of Waterbury's Main Street program ten years ago, Carol has made numerous contributions to the vision and work of revitalizing Downtown Waterbury. She has served on the promotions committee, served as a strong promoter of the Business Watch Program and, since its inception, has single-handedly pulled together a full roster of performers for Main Street Waterbury's annual Music at the Exchange program, a summer outdoor lunch time music festival that enlivens a key location in downtown. Carol was also a downtown business owner for over 20 years, and previously won the CT Main Street Business Owners of the Year award.  She sold her business in 2012 but worked with the new owners of her coffee shop, brokering an arrangement for Main Street Waterbury's committees to continue to hold their monthly meetings there.   


Congratulations, Carol!

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 


iForum on Retrofitting Suburbia - Join CMSC and the Partnership for Strong Communities on Friday, February 28 for their first IForum of 2014. This event will explore the question - can we add density, affordability and walk-ability to help municipalities survive and thrive?  The session will feature Lynn Richards, EPA Office of Smart Growth, who will specifically assess four Connecticut municipalities and offer lessons for others to follow. Click here for more information.


TransformCT Open Houses - ConnDOT is looking for input from transit advocates on a statewide strategic transportation plan.  They're encouraging planners, downtown officials and local leaders to attend one of TransformCT's open houses so they can express their transit needs and ideas and be part of the process that will help develop a statewide strategic transportation plan. For more information, click here.


CEDAS/CCAPA Networking Event - Join CEDAS and CCAPA for
Networking on Main Street in Manchester on March 6. This event will feature MCC on Main, a new space that brings Manchester Community College to the downtown, as well as Axis901 Co-Work Space & Imagine Main Street special events.  Click here for more information. 

President's Message 

A Sea-Change for the State  

After returning from the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce's Affordable Housing seminar, one of my staff was talking about the speakers, specifically Macky McCleary, Deputy Commission at the CT Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and State Senator Danté Bartolomeo. My colleague was especially enthusiastic about their open, willing attitudes towards our downtowns. For instance, during his presentation Mr. McCleary advocated for walkability and affordable housing, while Senator Bartolomeo talked about a proposed bill from the last session (which may appear again this session) that would incent young professionals to live in Connecticut's urban areas by providing a tax deduction to college graduates with student debt.


This sparked a discussion among us here at CMSC about how times have changed - in a very good way. Even just a few years ago we would have been met with a polite yet mostly unengaged audience when approaching state agencies on issues related to downtowns, topics such as transit, walkability, mixed-use development, transit-oriented development, and green design. New ideas seemed to be frowned upon or dismissed entirely, and there was little room for creativity.


Happily, there seems to be a major cultural shift underway among many of these agencies. The same institutions that used to instill heavy sighs among us advocates, now instead work with us, actively helping us to achieve common goals. Making streets safe for all users, not just cars, attracting young people to live in our downtowns, creating walkable, interesting neighborhoods - all of these are now openly advocated for from our legislative leaders and state agencies.


Speaking for us here at CMSC, we are thrilled and grateful they now "get it". The State's participation in these activities is not only energizing for those of us that advocate for these issues on a daily basis, but it's also extremely powerful. Having the support - financial and otherwise - of these groups can be hugely transformative for our downtowns and Main Streets. Working together, we can't wait to see how Connecticut develops over the coming years into a more sustainable, vibrant place to live, work, play and learn.

Connecticut Main Street Center

c/o CL&P

PO Box 270 

Hartford, CT 06141



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In This Issue
Waterbury Window Display Grant Program Shows Signs of Success

Middlesex Chamber of Commerce Hosts Affordable Housing Seminar   


Green Downtowns Bring Communities Together    


Spotlight on 2013 Award of Excellence: Carol Gendron
Re-Mains of the Day - iForum on Retrofitting Suburbia; TransformCT Holds Open Houses; CEDAS/CCAPA Networking Event in downtown Manchester
President's Message:
A Sea-Change for the State
Upcoming Events
TransformCT Open Houses
February 25, 26,27
More Info

iForum - Retrofitting Suburbia

The Lyceum, Hartford
February 28


NoRA First Thursday Event

March 6

Main Street, Middletown

More Info 


CEDAS/CCAPA Event: Networking On Main Street 


March 6  

Register & More Info 


CMSC 2014 Awards of Excellence Submissions Due

March 14


CMSC Member Networking Event

March  27


CMSC DRI - Placemaking II

The Lyceum, Hartford

April 25 


CMSC 2014 Awards of Excellence Presentation 

June 9 

We celebrate Mark Moriarty, P.E. for his efforts to support downtown revitalization 


  New Britain is rapidly becoming a leader when it comes to innovation and progress around designing streets for all users. This is in large part due to the efforts of Public Works Director Mark Moriarty, P.E. Here are just a few of the accomplishments taking place under Mark's direction:
  • New Britain recently completed their HUD-funded Complete Streets Manual - a process that took two years.
  • Implemented the State's first Head-Out Angled Parking.
  • Undertook a "road diet" at the City's largest intersection.
  • A self-described avid cyclist for over 20 years, Mark is working with Bike Walk CT to establish city-wide bike connectivity throughout New Britain  
  • This involves establishing safe bike routes between all the City's parks, schools, CCSU, and also the CTFastrak Bus Rapid Transit line.
  • The local BIKE NEW BRITAIN Initiative will help support the Transit Oriented Development (T.O.D.) opportunities that will soon exist around the three CTFastrak Bus Rapid Transit Stations.

These changes are redefining New Britain's downtown, creating a more inviting, walkable setting.



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