NEW CANAAN, Conn. – More grocery stores, better parking and expanded use of the Internet to market the town are things New Canaan can do to improve the downtown area, a study indicates.
Residents and members of the Downtown Market Demand Study Committee spent Thursday evening reviewing the results of a study completed by BFJ Planning. The study included comments from residents, store owners and visitors as well as the results of an online survey.
Frank Fish, a consultant with BFJ Planning, said New Canaan should do all it can to market its unique charm. “There’s a place for everyone as long as you’re making your customers feel welcome,” he said.
Residents interviewed by BFJ were concerned about the town’s image, shopping aesthetic and walkability, while merchants were most concerned with the balance of shops to restaurants, rent levels, special events and downtown activities. Downtown’s greatest strength, Fish said, is its ambiance as residents enjoy “a very pleasant, friendly atmosphere” for relaxing and meeting friends. But the downtown area could use more variety, he said. Shoppers would like more choices for women’s apparel and shoes, another supermarket and a place that sells kitchen accessories.
Fish said the town should explore additional parking, including possibly installing tiered parking at the Locust Avenue lot. Shops should also add websites. While web sales account for only 5 percent of sales, the Internet will become more of a factor. “Internet sales will probably increase,” he said.
Jack Trifero, former owner of the Gramophone Video Shop, said the town should look into apartments for downtown. “It adds another entry point to the community,” Trifero said.
Market Demand Committee Chairman John Goodwin agreed with the idea of using more public-private partnerships in promoting the town, including in boosting tourism. The committee will meet again Nov. 15 to review the study further before making final recommendations.