I blogged last time about the low vacancy rate for apartments in New Haven, and I'd like to expand on why that matters to the commercial market. When people move into an area, they want the services they use to be convenient. So, once residential appears, developers, franchisors, and service providers follow. Companies use demographic information to determine where they should expand. They know that renters eat out, go to bars, and seek out entertainment, preferably without getting into a car. After all, that's why they rented in a center city to begin with. Recently, 360 State Street opened in the Ninth Square in New Haven and is already up to 80% occupancy. I noticed that a new Irish pub just opened on the corner of the open space behind 360 State. Would we need another Irish pub (there are six between that one and the center of Hamden) if not for all those renters? This is especially true with renters, who may have more disposable income than new buyers. Also, the vast majority of the 360 State renters bike, walk, or take the train to work, making close by services more enticing. Since 360 State Street is so far ahead of projected occupancy rates, it has already had an impact on the area around it, and that will continue. Soon we will see the food co-op opening, and I expect that dry cleaners, convenience stores, and pharmacies to follow. Already, the chain deli around the corner is one of the best-performing franchisees anywhere. Why? Location, location, location.
Downtown New Haven has retail opportunities that should excite both investors and business owners. And that means that the time to act is now.