STAMFORD, CT-As the city continues to struggle with office vacancies, prime development sites in the Downtown district that were once slated for office construction are now being converted into retail and or hotel use. A recent panel discussion entitled “Trends, Deals and Decisions – Shaping Stamford’s Retail Future,” focused on how the city’s strong demographics and other socioeconomic trends have combined to create a number of deals that have bolstered the city’s reputation as a strong retail location.

Kenneth Narva, a partner in Street Works LLC, a White Plains, NY-based development and consulting group, said that urban retail projects must be developed in a manner that is “intimate” to the consumer and must relate to the surrounding streetscape. He also suggested that downtown districts must attract all type of development: retail, office, commercial and residential.

Scott Columb, senior regional real estate manager for Target Corp., said, “Stamford’s demographics and its ability to fill in Target’s metro New York market to a total of 55 stores are the reasons Stamford was attractive to Target.” Target’s 195,000-sf store is currently under construction on Broad Street in Downtown and is scheduled to be open by the fall of this year.

Target’s store sits directly across the street from a new 120,000-sf Burlington Coat Factory store, located at the corner of Summer and Broad streets in the former Caldor department store building. Other major retailers slated to enter the downtown market in the future include WalMart and Sam’s Club. Marriott is also building a 115-room Courtyard hotel in the Downtown area.

Other major developments planned for Downtown include FD Rich’s plan to begin construction this July on a 162-room Residence Inn by Marriott on Atlantic Street. The locally based real estate development firm is also marketing 375 Atlantic St., an office building of at least 150,000-sf to be built nearby.

William Hennessey, a partner in the locally based law firm Sandk, Hennessey & Grecco LLP praised the city’s planning and zoning officials and Downtown Special Services District for “limiting retail in outlying districts, rewarding concentrated retail in the Central Business District and maintaining flexibility for particular development problems.”

The program was presented by the City of Stamford’s Office of Economic Development, the Downtown Special Services District and the Business Council of Southwestern Connecticut.

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