The North Haven Planning and Zoning Committee amended the town's zoning regulations to create an Upper Washington Avenue Multi-Use (UWAMU) Development Zone. The objective of this change was to stimulate development and economic growth along Washington Avenue and accommodate new and diverse housing options for young professionals and empty nesters. The zoning change allows for the development of 300 new multifamily housing units, which has the potential to significantly impact the demand for retail and other services in the immediate area.
The North Haven Economic Development Commission (EDC) requested a study to determine the potential impact on consumer demand generated by these population shifts that will inform their business recruitment and marketing efforts and stimulate economic growth in this area. The Connecticut Economic Resource Center, Inc. (CERC) study team, in conjunction with the EDC, decided on a three]pronged approach to analyzing the potential consumer base in the upper Washington Ave. area:
Phase 1: Examine the current demographics and industrial composition for areas of potential opportunity that already exist in the market. In addition, the traffic patterns and expenditure patterns were analyzed to assess current retail demand. Additional insight was gained through a retail gap analysis that allowed for an assessment of purchases by residents surrounding the upper Washington Ave. census tract.
Phase 2: Determine the increased level of demand (through stakeholder interviews) that will be generated with the addition of the Quinnipiac University student, faculty, and visitor populations; 300 housing units; and potential development at the former Pratt and Whitney site; and identify areas of potential opportunities.
Phase 3: Construct a gravity model to determine whether new retail may be able to attract consumers from other competing shopping centers. The findings from the two previous phases provide the foundation for the gravity model analysis. Unlike the analysis conducted in Phase 1, the gravity model estimates the impact of the influx of residents from the Quinnipiac University expansion and projects potential sales opportunities.
The findings of the study concluded that the industries best suited for development in the upper Washington Ave. retail area include: Automobile Dealers; Taverns/Pubs; Book, Periodical, and Music Stores; Dry Cleaning and Laundry Services; Full]Service Restaurants; Health and Personal Care Stores; Limited]Service Restaurants; Office Supplies and Stationary Stores; Specialty Food Stores; Traveler Accommodation; and Banking Institutions. These industries will help to attract a population to the area that is comparable to that seen in the rest of North Haven.
The increased retail sales will serve to increase the quality of life in North Haven and generate elevated levels of prosperity for the town as a whole.