(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.