Downtown Update

Newsletter of the Connecticut Main Street Center


Vol.14, Issue 11          

Inspiring great Connecticut downtowns, Main Street by Main Street.
TIF Workshop Excites Crowd with Potential 

A large crowd of over eighty people joined CMSC, CEDAS and CCAPA as we presented Bringing Economic Development Home: New Directions in Tax Increment Financing. Speakers from  Yale Law School's Community & Ecnomic Development Clinic, the Town of Windsor, Main Street Iowa, Pullman & Comley and William Blair told the audience how tax increment financing works, how it's been used in other places and how is can and has been used here in Connecticut. Attendees were treated to an in-depth look at the practical realities of creating tax increment districts and their potential benefit during the half-day workshop.


Many thanks go to our distinguished speakers, our co-sponsors CEDAS and CCAPA, as well as our DRI workshop series sponsors, Webster Bank and NewAlliance Foundation. Special thanks also to CL&P for providing the conference space for this event, and to John O'Toole from Northeast Utilities for all of his assistance.


The speakers' presentations from the workshop are available on CMSC's website by clicking here.
Small Business Saturday Just Two Weeks Away  

Join fellow shoppers in supporting small and local businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Started by American Express in 2010, Small Business Saturday has grown into a national day of support for our local merchants. Many CMSC member communities such as Putnam, Willimantic, Simsbury, New London and more will be participating in the November 29th event, and some are even adding other festive offerings like a sing along and visits from Santa to the day.


Small Business Saturday takes place on November 29th this year. For more information and to find participating businesses, click here.


Spotlight on 2014 Awards of Excellence
Sponsored by Jasko Development & Webster Bank 
Public Space
- Complete Streets Master Plan for Downtown New Britain 
Participants: Downtown Streetscape Working Group, City of New Britain (Mayor's Office, Public Works, Planning, and Parks Departments), New Britain Downtown District, Polonia Business District, Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) & ITBD, Central Region Council of Governments (CRCOG), and the Project Consultant Team (Urban Engineers, and Richter, Cegan and Webb Landscape Architects).   
The goals of the Complete Streets Master Plan: 1) Undo damage caused by previous highway construction by re-connecting downtown; 2) construct an attractive, consistent and cohesive streetscape throughout the downtown area; and 2) "right size" the downtown road through road diets.   


Downtown Opportunities & Challenges:

  • Past planning and transportation decisions resulted in a New Britain downtown road network that is overbuilt and greatly favors vehicles over pedestrians with a streetscape that lacks consistency or interest. 
  • The new CTfastrak's Bus Rapid Transit system under construction presented a time of opportunity, especially as its terminus station will be in the heart of downtown New Britain. Additionally, in the coming years transit oriented development (TOD) opportunities will continue to arise along the CTfastrak corridor.
  • Most planning projects identify further work to be performed that requires additional investment, and the Complete Streets Master Plan for Downtown New Britain was no exception. In total over $25 million of Complete Streets / Streetscape enhancement work was identified in this master plan. But as a testament to the Plan's success the City was able to use the work performed to compete for and win a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) TCSP Grant for $1.3 million; a State of CT Transit Oriented Development Grant for $750,000; and a Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Bus Livability Grant for $1.4 million, among other grant monies.
  • In urban cities, many planning documents like the Complete Streets Master Plan for Downtown New Britain are also directly affiliated with a single mayor's agenda, and are often disregarded if there is a change of administration. Not so in New Britain. While the planning and implementation process associated with the Complete Streets Master Plan for Downtown New Britain has spanned three mayors representing both major political parties, the strong support of City leaders for this project has never wavered.
  • The Master Plan looks at five distinct study areas that, when combined, make up downtown New Britain. Each of these five areas serves a different purpose, and will require a different level of effort of improvements. The study areas themselves largely focus on the Main Street corridor. Through this Master Plan, the intent is to establish a common look and a distinct sense of place throughout the downtown area, which will be accomplished through Complete Streets-inspired streetscape design standards that will be constructed as funding becomes available.
  • This comprehensive Master Plan includes the following components: Downtown Parking; Bus Connectivity; Wayfinding & Historical Signage; Public Art & Monuments; Bicycle Connectivity; Palette and Design Standards.
Study Area 1: City Hall, Central Park, CTFastrak and Downtown Core Complete Streets Master Plan for Downtown New Britain

Major Accomplishments: 

  • New Britain's Complete Streets Master Plan has led to increased interest in the downtown by outside developers, and an invigorated belief in the future of downtown by the community as a whole.
  • Even before the planning was complete, the City was able to supplement the planning work with nearly $4 million in grant money toward the construction of streetscape improvements, some of which have been completed, some of which are underway.
  • In less than three years the project leveraged a small investment of federal H.U.D. grant money ($212,500) to develop a comprehensive Master Plan that has already resulted in the City being awarded over $9 million in competitive state and federal grants. Additionally the Complete Streets construction will help support private investment and job growth downtown, as well as CTfastrak ridership.
  • The planning was managed as a community-based project and run through a working group that involved a wide range of stakeholders, each of which has a vested interest in the revitalization of downtown. The Working Group membership was extremely diverse, both culturally and professionally - from the Broad Street Polish business community, to area artists, to representatives from the local university, to municipal officials and developers.

Congratulations to New Britain for their Complete Streets Master Plan for Downtown!


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 


 YES on Where We Live - Young Energetic Solutions (YES) - a group of young people committed to creating a vibrant Connecticut (of which CMSC is a member) - was well represented on a recent episode of NPR's Where We Live. Diana Deng, Policy and Communications Analyst for the Partnership for Strong Communities and Julie Daly Meehan, HYPE Executive Director, MetroHartford Aliance - both YES members, joined Joe Cortright, economist for City Observatory and host John Dankosky to talk about what is attracting young people back to the nation's downtowns, including Hartford. Listen to their discussion of "The Young and the Restless in Connecticut" by clicking here.      


Waterbury to hold Holiday Artisans Market - Holiday shoppers can find clothing, food and wines, pet apparel, home goods, art and more during Waterbury's artisans market on November 22. The event, which takes place at City Hall, will also feature the first annual food truck festival and farmer's market. Click here for more information.     


New Haven Progressing on Main Street Program - New Haven continues to progress on efforts to create a citywide Main Street organization - a recommendation made by CMSC earlier this year after the City contracted CMSC to determine the feasibility of such a program.  Over the weekend, about 25 residents from communities around Grand, Whalley and Dixwell Avenues met to learn about the "Main Street Approach" to neighborhood economic revitalization, reports the Yale Daily News. CMSC had recommended additional training for city staff and neighborhood stakeholders on the Main Street approach, provided by the National Main Street Center, a nonprofit that focuses on revitalizing historic commercial districts, and of which CMSC is a member.

President's Message 

Much to be thankful for 

Thanksgiving arrives next week, bringing with it that annual opportunity to reflect on all we have. Looking around at my Main Street family, I once again see much to be thankful for.


First and foremost, I must express my gratitude to my wonderful staff and board. They routinely go above and beyond in our efforts to inspire great Connecticut downtowns. Our team, comprised of Kimberley Parsons-Whitaker, Susan Westa, Christine Schilke and myself, worked throughout the year to offer several events, including our Awards Gala in New Haven and DRI workshops (who can forget the popular food truck catered-lunch and pop-up park at our Placemaking II workshop?); complete several consultancies, including the Sandy Hook Economic Recovery Initiative, an assessment of the potential for a New Haven citywide main street program, and implementing Year 2 of the Come Home to Downtown program. We also rolled out a brand new website and garnered positive press through op-eds and other successful media relations.    


The CMSC Board continued to be active champions and supporters of our goals. This year our board raised an unprecedented amount of sponsorships for our Awards Gala, leading the way for another fiscally sound year. Offering guidance, identifying resources and attending CMSC events in support of us and our members are just a few of the helpful practices our board routinely engages in, making our work with them both a value and a pleasure.


We're also grateful for our members and industry partners. While we continue to make forward progress on creating a positive environment for revitalizing our downtowns, we couldn't possibly do it alone. Knowing we have allies on the ground in our many communities and in the many organizations we work with means we can achieve that much more. We made new friends with two successful member networking events in Waterbury and Westville (New Haven), and our colleagues in state agencies such as DECD, ConnDOT, the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and in organizations like CERC, CRCOG, CEDAS, CCAPA and CPA are truly valued and appreciated by all of us here at CMSC.


Looking back over the year, I realize how lucky we are to work with such wonderful people towards such noble goals. It's our programmatic successes and the relationships we've cultivated that inspire us to keep going. This Thanksgiving, I hope you and your loved ones have every bit as much to be thankful for as we do here at CMSC. 

Connecticut Main Street Center

c/o CL&P

PO Box 270 

Hartford, CT 06141



Join Our Mailing List
Like us on FacebookFind us on Google+View our profile on LinkedInFollow us on Twitter
In This Issue
TIF Workshop Excites Crowd with Potential

Small Business Saturday Just Two Weeks Award

Spotlight on 2014 Awards of Excellence: Complete Streets Master Plan for Downtown New Britain
Re-Mains of the Day: YES on Where We Live; Waterbury to hold Holiday Artisan Market; New Haven Progressing on Main Street Program.
President's Message:
A Note of Thanks.
Upcoming Events

CMSC 2015 POP Grant Applications Due

November 18


Regional Planning Association

CT Forum

Pequot Library, Southport 

November 20 

Register & More Info 


Waterbury Artisan Market and First Annual Food Truck Festival

Waterbury City Hall 

November 22

More Info  


CMSC Offices Closed for Thanksgiving

November 27


CMSC Offices Closed

November 28


Small Business Saturday

November 29


CERC Celebrate CT Event


December 3

Register & More Info 


CEDAS 2014 Annual Meeting


December 10

Register & More Info 


Matt Vertefeuille,    Director of Code Enforcement -

When we asked people in Windham to describe Matt, here's what they had to say:    

- Strives to turn a negative into a positive - One prime example is when faced with graffiti issues, Matt channeled the graffiti artists' talents into creating beautiful murals that feature the town's history.


- Implemented sign regulations for downtown Willimantic that enhance business visibility and embrace creativity.


- Advocated for zoning changes to encourage mixed use development in downtown Willimantic.


- Sees a problem and finds ways to resolve it - from housing code issues to trash/recycling collection.


- Liaison with Eastern Connecticut State University on town-gown issues, annual Town Pride clean-up, and student community services.

Works on economic development both downtown and town-wide.


- And last, but not least, Matt always focuses on making his community better.


We celebrate Matt for his efforts to support downtown revitalization.  



Visit us on Facebook to find out more about what CMSC staff are up to, read interesting stories related to life and management on Main Street and connect with colleagues. 
Twitter Bird Logo  
Our handle on Twitter is