Downtown Update
Newsletter of the Connecticut Main Street Center 

Celebrating 20 Years of inspiring great Connecticut downtowns,  
Main Street by Main Street.
Learn about CT's Newest Economic Development Tool at September Workshop

Conceptual Rendering: Great Pond Village, Windsor CT
As many of you know, CMSC and a coalition of downtown advocates worked tirelessly to pass expanded tax increment financing (TIF) legislation earlier this year. As a reminder, TIF is a mechanism for capturing the future tax benefits of real estate improvements, in order to pay for the present cost of those improvements. 

CMSC is holding a workshop to explain the new legislation, how TIFs work and why TIF districts are an important new resource for investing in Connecticut's downtowns.  BeauTIFul Beginnings: Understanding CT's newest tool for economic growthtakes place on September 11th from 8:30-3:00 at the Eversource Energy auditorium in Berlin. In addition to discussing what activities are eligible under the new TIF law and providing an overview on TIF districts, presenters from Maine and Iowa will share their firsthand experience successfully using this resource to transform their communities.
Click here to register for this informative and relevant event.
CMSC Welcomes New Board Members
Several new members were recently elected to CMSC's Board of Directors, each of whom brings a wealth of talent, knowledge and passion for Connecticut's downtowns and main streets. We're pleased to introduce them, and even more pleased to be working with them:
  • Michael Andreana, Attorney, Pullman & Comley, LLC
  • Jamie Bratt, Director of Planning & Community Development, Town of Trumbull
  • JoAnn Ryan, President & CEO, Northwest CT Chamber of Commerce
  • Naveed Sobhan, Director of Mortgage Lending, Hartford Community Loan Fund
  • Chris Traczyk, CRA Officer, Farmington Bank
CMSC Joins Capewell Lofts Groundbreaking Celebration
Artist rendering of the new residential complex

Luck was in the air as horseshoes were tossed high during a unique groundbreaking ceremony for the new Capewell Lofts building. CMSC was on hand to help the building's developers, CIL, celebrate during the late July event.
The horseshoes were a nod to the building's former life as the historic Capewell Horse Nail Company, which was the world's largest manufacturer of horseshoe nails in its heyday, and an important contributor to Hartford's industrial development in the late 19th century. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Just a short walk from CMSC's Hartford office, the Capewell Lofts are located in the Sheldon-Charter Oak neighborhood, just southeast of downtown. Redevelopment of the building was 30 years in the making and will provide a welcome transformation for the grand structure. The $26 million conversion will bring 72 units of market rate and affordable apartments to Hartford, and is estimated to be ready for occupancy by the end of 2016.

Click here and here to read the Hartford Courant's coverage of the groundbreaking.

Spotlight on 2015 Awards of Excellence
Award of Merit for Events & Planning 
First Fridays in Downtown Putnam

Recipients: Town of Putnam, Putnam Business Association, Putnam Arts Council

The goal: to connect artists, audiences, and arts and culture agencies to enhance the economic vitality of the community, while also showcasing downtown assets including the Bandstand and Outdoor Stage, the Downtown Farmers' Market Pavilion, all connected by the scenic River Trail.

Opportunities & Challenges:
  • Putnam has been recently identified as a mecca of revitalization and community pride. Having overcome the obstacles of a ghost town of empty storefronts, Putnam has reinvented itself as the arts and cultural hub of northeastern Connecticut. And the town was recognized by Boston Magazine as "One of the Best 15 Small Towns to Visit in New England".
  • Driven by the vision to create a 'sense of place' and feature their downtown destination, the Town, the Business Association and the Arts Council collaborated to launch a monthly arts and culturally based Street Faire from May to October.
  • First Fridays has been designed to explore and celebrate the myriad arts and cultures that define us...locally and globally. Educating and advocating through multi-disciplinary and inter-generational events has made First Fridays a destination for audiences from Northeast CT, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.
  • First Fridays define cultural diversity with a different theme each month. These themes are explored through dance, theatre & storytelling, architecture, song, food, and folklore. Participants were given disposable cameras to take shots of Downtown architecture. The photos were then pieced to create a 9' X 3' collage spelling out the word "PUTNAM". The collage was used as a backdrop for one of Governor Malloy's speeches in the community.
  • Each monthly theme includes: 'Art Attacks' - random acts of art to surprise, entertain, and educate; 'Menu Celebrations' - local restaurants designing and creating menu specials to pair with the monthly theme; plus street bands, artisan vendors, and children events.
  • The 2015 theme year will be 'A Century of Art': May - Turn of the Century; June - The Roaring 20's / The Jazz Age; July - The 1940's / WWII and the Arts; August - Pop Art of the 1960's; September - The 1980's / Urban Art; and October - Turn of the Century / The Digital Age.
Major Accomplishments:
  • Since the inception of First Fridays, the exponential growth has been manageable only because of business partners, volunteers and partners stepping up to assist with the Town administration. The First Friday Committee is divided into subsets of Marketing, Community Arts Projects, Art Attacks, Entertainment, and Vendor and Facilities Management.
  • In 2014, approximately 3,000 people attended each event, with 15-20 street artisan vendors participating. Police traffic patrol has been set in place; corps of volunteers handle facilities management; and valet service companies have been hired by restaurants to assist with parking. Town employees provide services for sound systems, street closures and safety measures.
  • The success of First Fridays has demonstrated the town's credentials as a 'destination' in Connecticut. Putnam was voted #4 Fan Favorite Town through the CT Office of Tourism in 2013, and #2 Town in 2014...the only Town in the top 5 without waterfront.
Congratulations to the Downtown Putnam team!

Pictures from the 2015 Awards Gala have been posted to our Facebook page. Learn more about the winning initiatives and individuals here. 
Re-Mains of the Day 
Community Foundation listing available
CMSC has compiled a list of community foundations throughout Connecticut.  Community foundations are terrific resources for funding and organizational development. In additional to valuable grant and investment funds, many community foundations also provide training in organizational and leadership functions for local nonprofit organizations. 

▪ Discover New Britain Bike TourBikeWalk CT is hosting its next Discover CT bike tour in the Hardware City. Explore New Britain's many miles of bicycle facilities and why the city was ranked number three on Connecticut's 2014 Town-By-Town Scorecard and received "Bicycle Friendly Community" status by the League of American Bicyclists. There are three routes of varying length to choose from, and each will showcase many New Britain landmarks. The tour begins in Walnut Hill Park and concludes with a brunch at the New Britain Museum of American Art. Click here for ticket info.
President's Message - A New Beginning

As mentioned above, we're hosting a workshop in early September on the state's newly passed tax increment financing (TIF) legislation. I believe this represents such a valuable opportunity to invest in and transform our downtowns that I'd like to add my personal invitation, and especially encourage municipal officials - including town attorneys, finance directors, assessors, selectmen, town managers and economic development directors - to attend. 
Our town centers - whether they be large or small - provide critical infrastructure for
Downtown Bath, Maine
keeping our communities healthy. Yet, they need constant maintenance and repair to maintain their unique character and charm - and perhaps most importantly - functionality. While Connecticut had TIF legislation before, it only worked for very large projects.  Because downtowns consist of many small buildings, a new tool was needed. This new legislation allows for the creation of TIF districts, meaning whole areas and neighborhoods can benefit.
This is just one of several changes the new legislation allows for. The bottom, however, is that there are many Connecticut cities and towns for whom TIFs can be a transformative resource - if they know about it. That's why it's so important that we get as many people as possible at our workshop, joining in the conversation and learning how to implement this resource.  If you haven't already, I encourage you to click this link to register. Then forward the link to other town officials, downtown professionals and main street advocates who should join us. 
I look forward to seeing you all in September! 

Connecticut Main Street Center

c/o Eversource

PO Box 270 

Hartford, CT 06141



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August 2015
Vol. 15/Issue 8

Upcoming Events

CMSC Closed for Labor Day

September 7


TIF Workshop

September 11


Register & More Info 


CMSC Networking Event


September 29

Economic Development Summit
September 23
Register & More Info

SNEAPA Conference
September 24-25
Register & More Info