Downtown Update

Newsletter of the Connecticut Main Street Center


Vol.14, Issue 5    

Inspiring great Connecticut downtowns, Main Street by Main Street.
CMSC Presenting FREE Workshop on Brownfields  

The future is brightening for Connecticut's brownfield sites as new resources become available. CMSC is presenting a free workshop in late May to inform town officials and brownfield owners and developers about new opportunities becoming available. Some of the changes that will be addressed are:

  • Recent legislation that reduces liability for towns and cities working to rehabilitate and market their brownfield properties.
  • New streamlined regulatory approval processes.
  • Newly funded grant and loan programs to assist communities.
  • Technical assistance available from State brownfield experts.
  • and much more!
The workshop takes place at the Waterbury Regional Chamber on Tuesday, May 27 from 1:00 pm - 4:30 pm. Speakers include experts from US EPA, CT DECD, CT DEEP, CT Assembly's Brownfield Working Group and a local brownfields consultant.

While the event is free, space is limited. Click here to view the event flyer and to register.

Congratulations to CMSC Board Members Lemar, Andino     

The CMSC Board is comprised of distinguished professionals who not only help guide CMSC in achieving its mission of inspiring great downtowns, but they inspire others with their many accomplishments. Please join us in congratulating CMSC Board Members Anika Singh Lemar and Lissette Andino:


Anika joined the Yale Law School Faculty as Clinical Associate Professor of Law. Anika will teach the Community and Economic Development Clinic, an interdisciplinary approach to legal advocacy that emphasizes collaboration with community organizations to promote economic growth and empowerment in underserved neighborhoods.

Lissette, a
manager in Community Relations for CL&P and Yankee Gas in Norwalk, was recently recognized by the Greater Bridgeport Latino Network with a Leadership Award. Ten years ago, Lissette founded the organization, which educates public, private and non-profit sectors about various social and economic issues that affect Latino residents and participates in activities to foster support and unity among the Latino community. Lissette, who served as president of the organization for five years, received a proclamation from U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut recognizing her work to help the Latino community in the greater Bridgeport area.

CMSC Says Thanks to Senator Williams; Seeks New CIA Champion  

Senator Williams spoke very eloquently about our need to protect the Community Investment Act so the unique character of our open spaces, farms and historic places is saved for future generations.

As the legislative session was drawing to a close, CMSC participated in a press event to honor state Senator Donald Williams for his work championing the Community Investment Act (CIA). Earlier this year, Senator Williams announced he would not run for re-election.


Senator Williams was instrumental in getting the CIA passed in 2005. This critical legislation provides funding, through a document recording fee, for the preservation of Connecticut's open spaces, farmlands, historic places and the creation of affordable housing. CMSC and its members have benefited greatly from the Community Investment Act, which provides the source funding for our Preservation of Place (POP) grant program (funded through the State Historic Preservation Office) and our Come Home to Downtown Program (funded through a contract with the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority).


Chris Heitmann, Executive Director of Westville Village Renaissance Alliance (WVRA), a CMSC designated member, spoke about the positive impact their POP grant had on this historic New Haven neighborhood. Chris and several others thanked Senator Williams for his commitment to the citizens of Connecticut. He also urged that other legislators step up to protect this critical legislation.
Outlook Sunny at CMSC Placemaking Workshop

CMSC's Placemaking II workshop was a huge success, thanks to our engaging speakers and inviting placemaking activities. Fortunately the weather was perfect as guests enjoyed lunch catered by The Whey Station food truck and sat on colorful seats provided by the Norwalk 2.0 ladies. During the day-long workshop, attendees heard several creative approaches to placemaking, and left with lots of news ideas for their communities.


All are welcome to view presentations from this and previous CMSC workshops on our website.
Spotlight on 2013 Awards of Excellence - Main Street Board Members of the Year
Christine B. Grant, Upper Albany Main Street

An active member of Upper Albany Main Street's Board of Directors for six years, Christine manages the University of Hartford's public relations with local governments, corporate and community organizations. Chris coordinated and worked tirelessly with CMSC on the successful Downtown Revitalization Institute "University & Main Street Forum" in June 2011. She serves on Main Street Capacity, Governance, Design and Fundraising Committees.

Congratulations, Christine!
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 


Simsbury & New Haven finalists for Urbanism Awards - The New England Chapter of the Congress for the New Urbanism held its Urbanism Awards in April, presenting Simsbury an Urbanism award for its Stormwater Module and presenting New Haven with an honorable mention for its Hill to Downtown Community Plan. Established in 2006, the Urbanism Awards recognize excellence in architectural, landscape and urban designs built in harmony with their physical and social contexts as well as the policies, plans and codes that structure them. This year's award winners represent planning tools for the profession and large-scale masterplans for urban neighborhoods.  


Main Street Torrington Becomes New Non-Profit  - A new non-profit has been established to focus on the revitalization of downtown Torrington. Main Street Torrington, Inc. is committed to restoring vitality to the downtown using the Four Point Approach, and by partnering with local stakeholders who share the vision of being a vibrant destination for visitors and residents of the northwest corner. The organization's Board members include President Charlotte Rossi, owner of Reibman's; Treasurer/ Secretary Kristin Roberts of The Roberts Tax Group; Mark McEachern, Executive Director of the Torrington Historical Society; Fiona de Merell, UConn Torrington, and Judith McElhone, Executive Director for Five Points Gallery.  The board has appointed Sharon Waagner as Executive Director.  

Middletown Appoints New Downtown Business District Director -  Nicole Castrogiovanni has been appointed as the new Director of the MDBD. Ms. Castrogiovanni is a Connecticut native who has directed art galleries and auction houses in New York before coming to Middletown. She has worked and studied in Spain, Malawi, Cuba and the U.S.   
From left: Dan Forrest, of the Connecticut Historic Preservation office; Thomas Dorsey, manager of Legislative Affairs for CL&P; and Helen Higgins, executive director of the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation.
CL&P Wins Award from CPA - CL&P was recently recognized for its contributions to the community by the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation. CL&P was presented the Harlan H. Griswold Award by the Connecticut Trust and the Department of Economic and Community Development for its participation in the state's tax credit program. CL&P purchases tax credits under four programs created by the Connecticut legislature: the Housing Tax Contribution Program, Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program, Historic Structures Rehabilitation Tax Credit, and State Historic Homes Rehabilitation Tax Credits. Tax credits are sold to businesses, such as CL&P, which make donations to non-profit organizations such as organizations that build affordable housing, developers who convert historic commercial and industrial buildings to mixed residential and non-residential uses, and homeowners who renovate homes that are on the National or State Register of Historic Places. Since 2002, CL&P has purchased and donated more than $80 million through these tax credit programs that have helped finance affordable housing and historic preservation across the state.

President's Message 

Timing is Everything  

As anyone who works in the field of downtown management and revitalization knows, there are a multitude of aspects that need to be addressed. There's never just one task or project that needs to be tackled, one problem that needs to be solved in order to create a perfect commercial district.


Instead, there are multiple varied, yet intersecting facets that need to be undertaken: landscaping and transit planning, placemakng, economic development, business recruitment, programming of public spaces are but a few of the things on the to-do list. It can be daunting and overwhelming to address them in the best of times. Add in even a smidge of resistance due to NIMBY-ism, bureaucracy, a lack of resources, etc, and downtown management seems a downright Herculean task.


So it's especially encouraging to see how many of these arenas are beginning to gel - garnering support, financing, favorable regulations and more. There are so many examples of this it makes one almost giddy. Take transit, for example. Not only is there a tremendous demand among young people and active boomers to live in walkable neighborhoods with more transportation options, but here in Connecticut that notion is becoming our reality with the construction of the CTFastrak busway and the expanded New Haven-Hartford-Springfield rail line.


With recognition of the need for this type of transit comes a growing understanding that we must build vibrant, mixed-use communities to surround them. To support just such development, the State of Connecticut (as announced recently by Governor Malloy), the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority and LISC have each committed funds to ensure buildings with a healthy mix of housing, retail and commercial space will surround the new transit stations. Looking next at housing, and a need to attract young professionals who want to live in these types of dynamic communities, there is a growing number of developers willing to build affordable apartments, and there have even been creative, thoughtful attempts by the state legislature to encourage young people to live in our downtowns by offering tax credits  to young graduates with college debt.


Rather than detracting from each other, these efforts are building off one another, creating a tremendous network for change. Any one of them alone is exciting; taken collectively they demonstrate the time is right to build and re-build our downtowns using a holistic, comprehensive approach.

Connecticut Main Street Center

c/o CL&P

PO Box 270 

Hartford, CT 06141



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In This Issue
CMSC Presenting FREE Workshop on Brownfields

Congratulations to CMSC Board Members Lemar, Andino  

CMSC Says Thanks to Senator Williams; Seeks New CIA Champion

Outlook Sunny at CMSC Placemaking Workshop

Spotlight on 2013 Award of Excellence: Christine B. Grant
Re-Mains of the Day - Simsbury & New Haven finalists for Urban Awards; Main Street Torrington Becomes a Non-Profit; Middletown DBD Appoints New Director; CL&P wins award from CPA
President's Message:
Timing is Everything
Upcoming Events


CMSC Offices Closed for Memorial Day

May 26


CMSC Presents Free Brownfield Workshop Waterbury Regional Chamber

May 27

Register & More Info 


CMSC 2014 Awards of Excellence Gala

Roia Restaurant

New Haven 

June 9  


William Warner, AICP
Fmr. Middletown Director of Planning, Conservation & Development; Current Farmington Town Planner



Bill served for twenty-five years as the Director of Planning, Conservation & Development for the City of Middletown, and is now the town planner in Farmington. During his tenure the Middletown's downtown area underwent a remarkable revitalization, establishing itself as one of central Connecticut's dining and entertainment hubs. During that time:

  • More than two million square feet of commercial and industrial space was developed.
  • More than 2,500 acres of open space in Middletown's rural areas was preserved.
  • In 2011, the City decided to revisit the development of its river front - a plan that had been discussed for over 30 years. Bill brought consultants Project for Public Spaces, who outlined a framework for a redeveloped waterfront neighborhood, thus connecting downtown to the river.
Bill has worked tirelessly over the years to champion Middletown's many natural and historic assets. In honor of his years of dedicated service to Connecticut's downtowns, Bill was selected to receive the 2014 CL&P Award from CMSC.

We celebrate Bill Warner for his efforts to support downtown revitalization.  



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