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New Canaan Needs Landlords and Retailers That "Get It"

A letter from Kate Bonner

(Editor's Note: The author is a landlord of multiple holdings in New Canaan.)

I believe strongly after watching my grandfather, J. Elliott Smith, build in New Canaan, thinking "out of the box," building things that simply didn't exist — ie, apartment buildings — that the fundamental emphasis of any study should be; what the town needs and how do we get it. 

Children/teenagers outweigh adults 3 to 1..... They do not need junior cashmere sweaters, designer shoes and handbags and iPhones. Certain chains in town most definitely send out this message. What New Canaan needs are landlords and retailers that "get it." What ever happened to fair isle sweaters, Treetorns and the infamous L.L. Bean canvas tote?  But the economy falsely ballooned. Did certain landlords get ridiculous in 2006? Yes. So did the expectations of many people. But, did many of the landlords backdown or correct?  No. The prevalent attitude seemed to be that, if we all "stick together" we will be okay. 

After an interview in July 2010, where I was accused of price fixing " just to fill spaces" I asked the paper, "which would you rather have for the town, more dark spaces or a thriving business such as the , rented at the competitive rents in the market in 2009"? No reply to that one.

I don't think we can berate our township for not shopping, I think we need to get them what they need, at prices they can afford and subsequently " right size " the thinking behind it.  Which means that Elm St., and other prime locations need to correct by 25 percent  if not more, in order to provide things like cheese shops and bakeries where the cakes are not made of gold in order to meet the rents.  

This kind of compromise will bring our township back where it belongs —  shopping in New Canaan.  Additionally, it would help greatly if more landlords would actually speak to their tenants; otherwise, as evidenced by a few incidences last year, the worst WILL happen. They will pack up over night and leave. And, some parking would help — for a town like New Canaan, we have some of the ugliest unused spaces around.

Let's downscale, focus, and get realistic.

PMP June 16, 2011 at 03:50 PM
I agree with Kate Bonner Wholeheartedly. As a business owner who owns his own property, I believe many landlords have failed to recognize the new paradigm: people are looking for a deal, regardless of their income level. Charging high rents to tenants makes it impossible for New Canaan retailers to compete in the market, withe the results that tenants, landlords, our town,and the tax base suffer. WAKE UP!
Hank Edwards June 17, 2011 at 06:27 PM
There is no reason to dump on landlords. It is simply business. We need a call to action: Stop The Chains From Moving In. Pretty simple huh! People fight Walmart all the time. And win (and lose). Why don't we also clean up Main / Forest / Elm Street by making the facades of all the buildings look the same. No logos on our streets. Can we try quaint somehow? We are losing folks. People don't park and walk in New Canaan. Too lazy!
Stuart Pratt June 17, 2011 at 06:39 PM
Suburbans, Hummers, Escalades....Don't blame the DPW for the width of the spaces! These monsters should be parked in the muni lots and leave the Elm St spots for cars!
Tom Woodard June 17, 2011 at 07:32 PM
I am totally with Stuart. Usually these 8-passenger vehicles carry one Mom doing her errands.
Jay June 17, 2011 at 09:12 PM
Stuart - too funny. In San Francisco, the transit system is called MUNI, so I thought you meant these behemoths should be be parked in the bus lot. Perhaps not so far off the mark!

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