Downtown Update

Newsletter of the Connecticut Main Street Center


Vol.15, Issue 2            

Inspiring great Connecticut downtowns, Main Street by Main Street.
Upcoming DRI Workshop - Building Lasting DownTOWN/GOWN Relationships


There's been a flurry of substantial investment in Connecticut's downtowns recently. UConn's decision to move its West Hartford campus to downtown Hartford, and Trinity College's $2 million purchase of the former Travelers Education Center as part of its plan to expand its campus into downtown Hartford have both garnered a lot of press recently.


Beyond the headlines, many of Connecticut's colleges and universities are engaging in a wide array of activities and entering partnerships with municipalities and main street organizations to improve the areas surrounding these institutions of higher learning. Recognizing that a robust community is a draw for students and faculty, while the impact these campuses (which are often mini-cities in their own right) can have on a local economy is potentially significant, these groups have begun partnering in exciting, mutually beneficial endeavors.


CMSC will explore how these relationships are taking root and growing here in Connecticut during our next Downtown Revitalization Institute workshop on March 13th. Building Lasting DownTOWN/Gown Relationships will explore the ins and outs of these initiatives and their results through a case study and panel discussion. There'll also be an opportunity for attendees to brainstorm how town/gown relationships can be built in their own communities.


Click here to view the flyer for this event.

Click here to register.


Want more? Click the links below to see recent examples of how Connecticut's colleges and universities are investing in their communities:
Update on Proposed TIF Legislation


As you may recall, last November CMSC held a workshop on Tax Increment Financing (TIF), a funding mechanism where anticipated future increases in property taxes are used to repay debt issued for current development and redevelopment. There was general consensus among the over 80 attendees that new, expanded TIF legislation would enable our communities to undertake a greater array of revitalization and development efforts.


Since then, CMSC has formed a coalition with the Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association (CCAPA), the Connecticut Economic Development Association (CEDAS), Pullman & Comley LLC and other interested parties to pursue changes to Connecticut's existing TIF legislation. The goal is to make TIF more readily available to communities for a wider variety of projects, especially mixed-use and transit oriented development. The group has begun drafting proposed language for the bill and meeting with legislators to engage their support.


As the legislative session moves forward CMSC and its coalition partners will continue to meet with legislators, including leaders of key committees, as well as relevant state agencies and others to gather support for the TIF legislation, a tool that will aid all of Connecticut's communities in their downtown revitalization efforts.

Spotlight on 2014 Awards of Excellence
Main Street Waterbury  
Board Member & Volunteer of the Year  

Board Member of the Year - Eileen LeMay 


Eileen LeMay is a member of the Executive committee of the Main Street Waterbury (MSW) Board of Directors, serving as Board Secretary. She also served as member and Chair of the MSW Promotion Committee, and a member of their tenth anniversary celebration committee.  


In each position Eileen was a strong contributor. She mentored individuals with ease due to her strong organizational and inherent people skills, expanding member capabilities as well as organizational goals and work objectives.


Whether moving out of her role as Promotion Committee Chair or assisting with changes in the Executive Committee line-up, Eileen makes sure things run smoothly. People respond well to her approach to challenge and change. She helps keep the Board and others up-to-date with the information necessary to move ahead. Eileen is a strong and constant participant in the growth and success of the Main Street Waterbury organization.

Volunteer of the Year - Rob Gardner 


Main Street Waterbury created the Brass City Brew Fest in 2005, which was highly successful from its initial introduction. In 2011, Rob Gardner, owner of Nutmeg fine Wines and Spirits, joined the planning committee for the beer fest and his contributions since have been consistently significant. His business now serves as the host for this event and in that role, has helped it to grow and expand, building increased numbers of partnerships with the beer vendors.  


In addition, Rob has gone on to assist with fostering a new fund raising project, helping to plan and execute Wine on Main St, a wine tasting event that drew rave reviews and an audience anxious to attend the second offering in October 2014. He made it easy to secure the wines and the information about those that pleased attendees so much. When the event was a resounding success, he further assisted Main Street Waterbury by returning a significant portion of the proceeds he earned from after-event sales of wines to the organization. He has shared his expertise, contacts, and creative energies willingly and amicably. He participates in planning sessions applying his time and talents to ensure success, and has proven to be an excellent aide to Main Street Waterbury's growth.

Congratulations to the Main Street Waterbury Team!


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 


Governor Malloy announces brownfield remediation funds awarded to several CMSC member community towns -
Eight municipalities throughout the state, most of them home to CMSC member communities, are set to receive a combined $2.2 million to support the redevelopment of historically significant brownfield sites. The funds are provided by the Department of Economic and Community Development in the form of assessment and planning grants and will be used to assess environmental and structural conditions, and conduct community-driven reuse visioning and planning exercises. The municipalities receiving funds are Bridgeport, Enfield, Haddam, New Haven, Norwich, Putnam, Thompson and Vernon. Click here to read the full announcement.

Healthy By Design forum explores how land use policy can promote healthy living - On February 13th, planners and public health officials joined together to explore how communities can advance strategies to improve opportunities for healthy living. Decisions about land use, urban design, and transportation impact local air quality, water quality and supply, traf­fic safety, physical activity and more. During the event presenters provided "best practices" from CT and RI on how communities are using land use policy to promote healthy living.  The Chair of CMSC's Board of Directors, Ted DeSantos (Fuss & O'Neill), was a featured panelist during the event. 


Video: Delaware using pop-up storefronts to help local economy - The Delaware Economic Development Office (which runs their statewide Main Street coordinating program) is using their successful Project Pop-Up program to boost local economies by filling vacant storefronts with small businesses. Since introducing the program nearly three years ago, two dozen small businesses have taken part, and to date, 22 of those pop-ups are still operational. Connecticut has several similar pop-up programs around the state, including this one in New Haven's 9th Square.

President's Message 

The evolving role of innovation and technology in downtown revitalization.    
While it seems there's no escaping winter with this seemingly endless snow, my mind has been stuck on the fall - specifically the terrific fall edition of Main Street Now, a publication from the National Main Street Center. I highly recommend this issue for anyone interested in the future of Main Street and what we can be doing now to usher in the next great era of downtowns.


While I could speak at length on several of the topics raised, for now I want to focus on the idea of integrating emerging technology and innovative creativity into our downtowns and Main Streets. In her article, "Investing in Main Street's Future," Kennedy Smith highlights some of the neat things other communities are doing to create unique, dynamic and useful experiences for residents and visitors, on both the small and large scale. Using a smartphone to pay for parking and LED streetlights that brighten when pedestrians are near will soon be the norm in a successful downtown. In Holland, Michigan, a decision to repave the downtown became an intriguing exercise in creative practicality when they "route[d] heated water from the local power plant through more than 60 miles of PEX pipe placed under the new paving, creating a cooling loop for the power plant and providing radiant heat that would keep downtown streets and sidewalks free of ice and snow in winter." It's perhaps no surprise that within a few years, several hundred new apartments appeared in the downtown and first-floor vacancies dried up like the snow.


The author notes that much of this technology will be driven by tech-savvy Millennials, already drawn to downtowns because of their inherent walkability, authenticity, repurposed-ness (being green-minded, they like the idea of old buildings being re-animated - think mill and factory buildings converted into apartments or breweries). Baby boomers also increasingly want to stay in these vibrant areas (if radiant sidewalks with no snow shoveling required can make it to my neighborhood, I'm in!) where utilitarian amenities improve quality of life and experience.


Knowing Connecticut has both a mushrooming aging population and a lackluster young demographic that each need to be addressed, we must be willing to embrace the opportunities that incorporating technology into our Main Streets can provide. I, for one, am excited by the possibilities - and that's coming from a guy with a flip-phone!

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
Upcoming DRI - Building Lasting DownTOWN/GOWN Relationships

Update - Proposed TIF Legislation

Spotlight on 2014 Awards of Excellence: Main Street Waterbury Board Member & Volunteer of the Year Awards
Re-Mains of the Day: Gov. Malloy annouces funds for brownfield remediation; Healthy by Design forum; Video - Delaware using pop-up storefronts to boost economy

President's Message:
The evolving role of innovation and technology in downtown revitalization
Upcoming Events

CMSC Awards of Excellence entries due

March 10


CMSC Workshop: Building Lasting DownTOWN/GOWN Relationships

March 13 


CTfastrak Opens

March 28 


2015 Awards Gala

New Britain

June 8 


Michael Moore,
President & CEO, Bridgeport Downtown Special Services District
Mike brings over 15 years experience in community development and urban project management to the Bridgeport Downtown Special Services District (DSSD), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the revitalization of the downtown area as a destination and draw for young professionals, businesses, investors and families. Their work is based on a Downtown Master Plan, developed by the DSSD in collaboration with city officials and other agencies  

In support of this plan, Mike oversees the DSSD's placemaking efforts and was a featured speaker at CMSC's Placemaking II workshop in April 2014, talking about how the DSSD adopted Creative Placemaking as a strategy for revitalizing downtown Bridgeport and positioning it as a local and regional destination for cultural and economic activities.   


Also about Mike:


 - Began his career with the CT Dept. of Community and Economic Development (DECD); worked previously at the Norwalk Redevelop- ment Agency. 

- Has a Master's in Public Affairs from UConn and a Master's in Business Administration from Fairfield University.


- Served on the Danbury Common Council from 1999-2003 


We celebrate Mike for his efforts to support downtown revitalization.  



Spotlight on 2015 Awards Gala in New Britain

CMSC's 2015 Awards of Excellence will be presented during our Awards Gala, held this year at Trinity-on-Main in New Britain on Monday, June 8. CMSC has already begun planning this event, working with a Committee from New Britain, our Board and the State Office of the Arts to offer tours of the surrounding area that showcase downtown New Britain's many attributes.


In advance of our Awards Gala, we'll be highlighting some of the local treasures New Britain has to offer. For instance, did you know New Britain and its surrounding communities have over 45 arts and culture organizations? Or that they have a black box theatre, an Olmstead-designed park with band shell, an industrial museum and a professional concert choir? This video, Art in the Hardware City, presented by the Greater New Britain Arts Alliance, will introduce you to these and many other cultural gems available in New Britain.

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