Last Updated: March 27, 2022

Development Possibilities in Hartford and New Haven

Written By: Barbara L. Pearce
table at a restaurant

A Tale of Two Cities is an apt title for a blog post about Hartford and New Haven.  A recent visit on a Saturday to Hartford turned up not one coffee shop in the whole downtown area, including at least one hotel.  And this was at 4PM, not midnight.  Although many apartments are proposed, or in the process of being built, in various neighborhoods around Hartford, the concentration of residential living just isn’t there yet.  That means that retail has to survive on a Monday to Friday calendar, mostly during daylight hours.  New Haven, on the other hand, has a thriving nightlife and downtown dining scene, all through the week and weekends.  During the week, when Yale is in session, that brings lots of business to establishments within walking distance.  Even when Yale employees are gone, however, it is hard to find a parking place on most evenings, and many restaurants are now booming, at least for dinner.  What does that mean for real estate investors?

New Haven

It means that New Haven is full of those who live within walking or biking distance from the central city.  Since New Haven’s Union Station is the tenth busiest rail hub in the country, people can live in New Haven and commute to work by train.  More people are now employed in New Haven’s biotech sector, and research requires a highly educated, and therefore well-paid, workforce.  They have disposable income to spend on entertainment and dining, as well as on other types of consumer purchases.  That argues for more retail development in New Haven.  Also, the more that residents patronize the city’s offerings, the more that suburbanites will travel in to join them.  So much street life makes for a safer vibe, and maybe even a little FOMO from the holdouts.  The many colleges and universities also bring a diversity of cultures from all over the world, making a fertile environment for unusual offerings in both food and entertainment. 

Hartford

Hartford, on the other hand, has two big sports venues—the Civic Center and Dunkin Park.  They bring people in for a different experience.  While there is certainly opportunity to grow that sector, it seems more likely that additional housing will come before a vibrant nightlife all over the downtown area.  The Bushnell, Hartford Stage, and TheaterWorks, along with the Atheneum, make a good start, but would all be helped with more patrons who could walk or who live nearby.  Luckily, there is a lot planned for the near future. 

So, look for opportunities to pursue retail in New Haven, and housing in Hartford.  With a little luck, both types of investment will do very well.

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