Downtown Update

Newsletter of the Connecticut Main Street Center
 

October/2014

Vol.14, Issue 10         

Inspiring great Connecticut downtowns, Main Street by Main Street.
Upcoming Events Provide Opportunities for Learning, Collaboration

The trees are changing colors and that means fall is in full swing, complete with conferences, workshops and forums galore. Below are some upcoming events that provide plenty of opportunity for learning, collaborating and providing valuable input on important community issues. 

  • The Small Business Administration (SBA) and Asnuntuck Community College are partnering to provide free workshops on Starting a Small Business. The workshops take place in October and November. Click here to learn more.
  • Governor Dan Malloy and Candidate Tom Foley offer their vision for meeting the state's housing needs in a conversation with stakeholders on Wednesday, October 22 at The Lyceum. Click here for more information and to register.
  • The Regional Plan Association is holding a forum on their 4th Regional Plan Preparation. A panel of Connecticut experts and attendees will engage in a comprehensive discussion on transportation, housing and community development concerns affecting social equity, quality of life, land-use and more throughout New York, Connecticut and New Jersey. There are two dates available. Click here for more information.
    • Oct. 29 at The Lyceum in Hartford from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
    • Nov. 20 at Pequot Library, Southport from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
  • Creating Livable Communities for All is the 9th Annual Conference of the Connecticut Association of Area Agencies on Aging. Three Continuing Education Credit (CEC) hours are available from the National Association of Social Workers, CT Chapter, and CT Certification Board. CM credits for AICP Planners for up to 2.5 hours from CCAPA are pending. This event features a keynote speech and panel discussion, and takes place on Wednesday, October 29. Click here for more information.
  • New Directions in Tax Increment Financing, a workshop co-sponsored by CMSC, CEDAS and CCAPA will show how TIF's can help make mixed-use development work and how other states are using it. This event takes place on Friday, November 7 at the CL&P Building in Hartford.  Click here for more information and to register.
Small Business Saturday Materials Available  
 
Tomorrow, October 16th, is the deadline to sign up for Small Business Saturday materials. Become a Neighborhood Champion by signing up to plan an event to celebrate Small Business Saturday on November 29th and help make this one of the biggest days of the year for local small businesses. As a Neighborhood Champion, you will receive resources like the Small Business Saturday Event Kit, which contains merchandise including items such as balloons, mats, shopping bags, and more. Click here to learn more and to sign up.
 
Spotlight on 2014 Awards of Excellence
Marketing and Communications - Discover NWCT
 
Participants: Northwestern CT Regional Planning Collaborative (representing the Towns of Sharon, Falls Village, Goshen, Cornwall, Canaan, Salisbury, Kent, Norfolk); Studio Two; local business owners in the eight towns in the "Secret Corner"; and local historical societies. 
 
 
Ruth Skovron and Jocelyn Ayer of the Northwestern CT Regional Planning Collaborative accept their Award of Excellence from CMSC's John Simone.

The goal: To market Connecticut's Northwest corner as a region, helping visitors find their way around the Main Street Village Center they are in, but also to help them discover the rest the of the Secret Corner.   

 

Downtown Opportunities & Challenges:

  • The northwest Connecticut "Main Streets" (Village Centers) are relatively small, nestled into the countryside at a crossroads or river bend. Not many of them have the critical mass of shopping or attractions to entice the weekend visitor to come back again but together, these eight towns' Main Streets offer a lifetime's worth of experiences to discover.
  • Like many small towns, the towns in the northwest corner cannot afford active marketing and communications campaigns on their own. Partnering provides a cost effective way to do this.
  • It is difficult to attract visitors when Main Street only has a few shops and restaurants, but collaborating on marketing to include other small Main Streets - marketing a region - attracts a larger audience.
  • Just creating a brochure, a website or a Facebook page will not attract attention by their mere existence. DiscoverNWCT utilizes a variety of marketing tools to communicate with target audiences, by combining them to reinforce the branding message.

Highlights: 

  • Social media presence: websites, discovernwct.com, and secretcorner.org gain 150 new visitors per week; Facebook page, DiscoverNWCT, has 1,107 followers.
  • Secret Corner brochure, distributed to hotels, shops, restaurants, and State visitor centers and the Big E, is now in its 3rd printing (10,000 copies).
  • Window clings that identify businesses as part of the Secret Corner - 60 local businesses are participating.
  • A series of Welcome signs and visitor information kiosks, with Secret Corner branded materials, are spread throughout the region. Each town has regionally themed signage at the gateways welcoming people to town and directing them to shops, restaurants, and the visitor information kiosks.

Major Accomplishments: 

  • The NW CT Regional Planning Collaborative facilitated outreach and input from all participating communities into development of the brand of the region and the towns in that region.
  • Local small businesses had extensive input into signage design and the website content. They are active participants in the Secret Corner brand, posting materials and window signs in 60 small businesses in the region.
  • Town leaders were very active in helping to facilitate the ConnDOT permitting process for the regional signage program. As a result, this Village Center Signage & Wayfinding Program is now codified in ConnDOT's Village Area Gateway Signage program.

Congratulations to the Northwestern CT Regional Planning Collaborative!

  

Pictures from the 2014 Awards Gala have been posted to our Facebook page. Learn more about the winning initiatives and individuals here. 

Re-Mains of the Day 

 

First Year of Enfield's Farmers Market A Success - Enfield's Community and Farmer's market has been deemed a success for bringing increased activity to downtown Thompsonville. Among the reasons credited are: a change in venue from the green next to town hall to North Main Street in Thompsonville, "the heart of the village"; a variety of vendors selling food, clothing and more; and no fees for the vendors to sell their wares. According to assistant town manager of development services Courtney Hendricson, "We have a good thing going," Hendricson said, "It is free and it gets people down here during the week."     

 

Manchester Opens Entrepreneurial Center - Entrepreneurs in Manchester have a new resource with the opening of the Viscogliosi Entrepreneurship Center. The new center, made possible by a donation from Paula and Anthony Viscogliosi, is located at MCC on Main (a 2014 Award of Excellence winner) and "is meant to provide students, entrepreneurs and small business owners 'with opportunities to explore and develop their business passion and vision through innovative and informative educational and networking opportunities,'" reports the Hartford Courant. The center recently opened with a dedication and remarks from Tom Chappell of Tom's of Maine.   

 

Hartford Public Library New Home for Murals Worth Millions - Two Romare Bearden murals have found a new home in Hartford's Public Library. The murals, originally commissioned by the City of Hartford in 1980 for $180,000, were appraised as part of their relocation for a whopping $4.2 million combined. The paintings, previously on display in the XL Center, will now have a chance to be seen by a larger audience in the library, a perfect addition to a space already dedicated to arts, ideas and learning.
 
SNEAPA Conference coming up. The annual fall conference of the Southern New England chapters of the American Planning Association (SNEAPA) takes place this year in downtown Providence, RI, October 23-24 at the Rhode Island Convention Center. In addition to the programs, there will be mobile workshops and an evening reception. Online registration has closed, but on-site registration is available. Check out the full list of offerings at www.sneapa.org. 

President's Message 

Why we need more financing for mixed-use development  

In case you haven't noticed from our many newsletters, workshops and Come Home to Downtown program - not to mention our mission and values - we're big proponents of mixed-use development in our downtowns and towns centers. Without getting too technical, this basically means we're in favor of places that have a vibrant mix of uses (shops, restaurants, businesses, housing, etc.) existing side-by-side, and sometimes even within the same building. Ultimately, this mixed-use development should fit within a vibrant mix of transportation options (cars, buses, walking, biking, handicap accessibility) and people (old, young, higher-income, lower-income, black, white, Hispanic, etc.).

 

The trouble, as we're finding in detail through our Come Home to Downtown program, is that creating buildings with a mix of uses (in this case housing above commercial space) is all too often hindered by a lack of financing, far more than a lack of desire or demand. Rehabbing under-utilized small downtown properties is often cost-prohibitive to the owners - at least in the early years before there's enough demand to raise rents to a sustainable level. Finding the financing to make these deals work is complex, time-consuming and sparse.

 

This is a shame, because these types of developments have a lot to offer. As we've noted, they're economic rock stars - costing less to service/maintain as a result of their density, generating more revenue due to their built-in resident customer base, andfaring far better during financial downturns due to their diversity of residents, patrons and merchants. And here in Connecticut they have the potential to solve another dilemma, being the type of neighborhood that can serve both the population we'll have in the coming decades (a massive wave of those aged 65+ who will require multiple services) and the one we'll seek (young people aged 18-64 who'll be needed as workers, homeowners and tax-payers).

 

In response to what we view as a significant need and opportunity, we're exploring many financing options for mixed-use development, including taking advantage of those not yet used to their full potential. Tax Increment Financing (TIF for short), is one such option that we're exploring fully, including through our upcoming workshop in November. In just a few short weeks, we'll partner with CEDAS and CCAPA to present a half-day workshop on how other states are successfully using TIF and how we can use them more here in Connecticut. We hope you can join us in learning how we can make mixed-use development happen here, and if you can't join us (or even if you can) I hope you'll consider making an investment in CMSC as we continue our work revitalizing Connecticut's downtowns.
 

Connecticut Main Street Center

c/o CL&P

PO Box 270 

Hartford, CT 06141

860/280.2337

www.ctmainstreet.org

 

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In This Issue
Upcoming Events Provide Opportunities for Learning, Collaboration

Small Business Saturday Materials Available

Spotlight on 2014 Awards of Excellence: Discover NWCT
 
Re-Mains of the Day: First Year of Enfield's Farmers Market a Success; Manchester Opens Entrepreneurial Center; Hartford Public Library New Home for Murals Worth Millions; SNEAPA conference coming up.
 
President's Message:
Why we need more financing for mixed-use development.
Upcoming Events

 

Gov. Malloy & Candidate Tom Foley Discuss Housing & Their Vision for CT

The Lyceum

October 22

Register & More Info 

   

SNEAPA Conference

Providence, RI

October 23-24

More Info    

 

Regional Planning Association

CT Forum

The Lyceum, Hartford 

October 29

Register & More Info 

 

Creating Livable Communities for All

LOB 

October 29

Register & More Info 

 

New Directions in Tax Increment Financing

CL&P Building, Hartford 

November 7

Register & More Info

 

CMSC Offices Closed for Veteran's Day

November 11

 

Regional Planning Association

CT Forum

Pequot Library, Southport 

November 20 

Register & More Info 


CMSC Offices Closed for Thanksgiving

November 27

 

CMSC Offices Closed

November 28 

  Martin Connor, ACIP 

  City Planner -
City of Torrington
 

Marty is the Land Use Department Head reporting to the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Mayor. He directs, administers and coordinates all planning, zoning, inland wetlands and floodplain activities for the City of Torrington.   

  

Some of Marty's many achievements in Torrington include:

  

- Authoring the excellent  Design Review Guidelines for the Downtown Historic Area, which CMSC regularly recommends to other towns looking to craft their own guidelines.

  

- Authoring the City Development Guide for the City of Torrington , which provides a customer-oriented, one-stop shop explanation of the municipal permitting and processes for development.

  

- He is also behind the Urban Tree Brochure, which explains how trees in an urban environment are important for business and quality of life.

 

In addition, Marty is:

- On the Board of Directors for the  Northwest YMCA.    

- A Supervisor at Mohawk Mountain Ski School.

- His interests include Skiing, Running, and Photography. (He learned a little something about photography while training as a crime scene photographer/ evidence technician at his former job as a Police Officer in the Detroit, Michigan area.)    

 

Under Marty's leadership, the City of Torrington is always working to promote appropriate downtown development. 

 

We celebrate Marty for his efforts to support downtown revitalization.  

 

WAY TO GO MARTY!! 


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