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National Real Estate Consultants
STRATEGIC ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PLAN
City of Ansonia, CT
June 25, 2013
TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE Executive Summary Introduction 7 Background 7 Plans and Documents Reviewed 8 9 11 17 20 21 23 31 37 49 51 52 54 3
Current Status of Economic Development in Ansonia Information Interviews Public Meeting Inventory of Businesses Market Area Real Estate Trends and Analysis Demographic and Economic Characteristics Market and Customer Segmentation Highest and Best Use Analysis Branding Action Steps Marketing Plan – Business Attraction
Appendix A. Inventory of Businesses Attachment 1 – Five-Year Projection – Business Attraction Attachment 2 – Five-Year Projection – Impacts
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Bartram & Cochran was engaged by the City of Ansonia to create a Strategic Economic Development plan for the City. This plan sets forth the underlying analysis and action steps to support the economic development of the City and identifies the types of businesses that would be best suited for Ansonia to support its economic growth. In addition the plan describes how to attract those businesses to Ansonia. Both the Ansonia City Center Plan and the Plan of Conservation and Development have been critically considered in the creation of the Strategic Economic Development Plan. To create the plan, Bartram & Cochran’s work included: • • • • • • • • • • • Review of existing Plans and Documents Assessment of the Current Status of Economic Development in Ansonia Information Interviews with state, regional and local contacts in both the public and private sectors Feedback from a Public Meeting Inventory of Businesses categorized into major sectors Determination of the Market Area for Ansonia Description of Real Estate Trends and Analysis of Downtown and adjacent areas and Industrial Parks Analysis of the Demographic and Economic factors underlying Ansonia Determination of Market and Customer Segmentation for Ansonia Determination of Highest and Best Uses, as well as Branding recommendations and Action Steps for success A Marketing Plan for Business Attraction
From the above analysis, the Highest and Best Uses were determined to be: Retail • • • • • • • Home Furnishing Stores Electronic And Appliance Stores/Toys and Games Building Materials and Supplies Dealers Specialty Food Stores Clothing and Shoe Stores Restaurants/Entertainment Jewelry, Luggage and Leather Goods Stores 3
• • •
Warehouse Clubs/Superstores Office Supplies, Stationery and Gift Stores Pet Supplies
Industrial/Warehouse/Flex/Specialized Needs • Research & Development • Light Manufacturing/Assembly • Precision Manufacturing • Businesses that Supply the Aerospace/Defense Industries • Back Office Operations/Storage • Data Centers • Community College/Educational-Training Facilities Office • Medical Office and Healthcare Uses Residential • Apartments as part of Mixed Use Development • Artists Lofts—Live-Work Space plus Commercial Arts Space For the Most Likely Scenario, the bottom line projection of Businesses to be attracted and related Square Footage, Jobs created (direct and total), Increases to the Grand List and Increases to Real and Personal Property Taxes is as follows: Year 1
Business es SF Direct Jobs Total Jobs Increase s to Grand List Increase s to Real Property Taxes Increase s to Personal Property Taxes
47 317,450 460 628 $11,903,85 0 $292,561
16 152,500 282 408 $4,530,750
Cumulative 5-Yr. Total
72 519,700 873 1,217 $18,272,10 0 $468,643
9 49,750 131 181 $1,837,50 0 $50,807
Consequently, over the above five-year planning horizon, commercial vacancy in Ansonia will be significantly reduced as a result of the growth in business that is projected. Also, it should be noted that granting incentives, such as TIFs, to attract business would reduce the projected increase to tax revenues, temporarily. Branding A “brand” creates an image, a perception, an inspiration, a lifestyle. It imparts a sense of what a place is all about in only a few words. It establishes this in the “minds eye” of the viewer or listener. The branding recommendation for Ansonia combines authenticity, energy and community spirit with a positive look toward the future, using a recognizable variation of the Ansonia High School sports symbol:
This brand builds on Ansonia’s community spirit and pride in its sports success and promotes economic development for the future. It establishes Ansonia as a place for entrepreneurs, unique businesses and others, as well as residents. Bringing this all together in some carefully chosen words and with a recognizable logo is the essence of what this brand will represent for the City of Ansonia. Additionally, this brand will be a key part of the business attraction campaign to bring new businesses, developers and residents to town. Next Steps Our recommendations include a targeted marketing plan approach to attract business and development to town. Also specified are the immediate and longer term Action Steps needed to achieve Economic Development and the goal of 5
making Ansonia a vibrant community where people live/work/play, including, among others: • Announcing completion of the Strategic Economic Development Plan, Key Recommendations and Next Steps, to demonstrate follow-through; then, as additional progress is made, each step should be announced to the media so that the public sees “things are happening” in Ansonia. Making it clear who the primary contact is for development in Ansonia As part of the business development/attraction effort, inviting all Greater Ansonia area real estate brokers to Ansonia for a “Red Carpet Tour.” Starting at City Hall with a presentation on the key findings from the Strategic Economic Development Plan—including the incentives available for new businesses coming to town, the tour would then travel to key sites such as the Farrel site, the Palmer Building, the ATP, the Healey Ford site, the Hershey Industrial Park and Fountain Lake Commerce Park. Key Ansonia City Officials, Commission Members and Staff would be in attendance to show the brokers that Ansonia is open and ready for new business. Finally, communications with each of these brokers should be maintained through quarterly updates on Ansonia business and residential development. Address aspects of blight/decay throughout the Downtown where there are empty lots that are not well-kept, buildings that appear abandoned, sidewalks that need fixing. Looking ahead, either stricter enforcement of existing blight ordinances or more stringent new ordinances may be needed to resolve this issue as more reuse, beautification and renewal efforts move forward. Brownfields—a number of brownfield sites in Ansonia have had contamination issues remediated and the sites have been reused. However, some large sites in the City Center are reported to have potential environmental issues that may delay or impede their reuse possibilities, although prior owners have reportedly indemnified the future clean-up of the sites. It will be imperative that these sites have clearly defined environmental condition reports (including, for example, Phase I Assessment, Phase II Analysis, Cleanup documentation, Indemnification statements, etc.) available for review by prospective parties interested in reuse opportunities and related redevelopment.
A Final Word It is worth noting that in the sections to follow, while some negative aspects related to economic development in Ansonia have been identified, some may be 6
more perception than reality. And, perhaps more importantly, the City has taken steps to resolve these matters such as now having a full-time Zoning (and Blight) Enforcement Officer as well as a Fire Marshal. Shortly, the City will also have a new Economic Development Director. All of these steps are indicative of the fact that the City of Ansonia is “charging ahead” toward a future positioned for success.
INTRODUCTION Bartram & Cochran was engaged by the City of Ansonia to create a strategic economic development plan for the City. This plan sets forth the goals and strategies for the economic development of the City and identifies the types of businesses that would be best suited for Ansonia to support its economic growth. In addition the plan describes how to attract those businesses to Ansonia. Both the Ansonia City Center Plan and the Plan of Conservation and Development have been critically considered in the creation of the Strategic Economic Development Plan with regard to establishing the goals and overall vision for the City. BACKGROUND In his book The Making of the President, 1960. author Theodore H. White referred to the Naugatuck Valley "as the seedbed of Yankee ingenuity.” This is exemplified by Anson Greene Phelps for whom the City was named. In the early stages of the industrial revolution, metal dealer Phelps formed the Ansonia Brass company in 1844 to supply brass movements to the expanding clock business in Connecticut Then, in 1850 the Ansonia Clock Company was formed as a subsidiary of the Ansonia Brass Company by Phelps and clockmakers, Theodore Terry and Franklin C. Andrews, thus creating a built-in market for the brass movements Phelps was manufacturing. Pierre Lallement, considered by some to be the inventor of the bicycle, left France in 1865 to settle in Ansonia, where he built as well as demonstrated an improved version of his bicycle. He later filed the only American patent for his pedal bicycle. Heavy manufacturing grew up along the Naugatuck River and led to early prosperity for Ansonia. Ansonia became known as “The Copper City,” a name that arose from the manufacture of copper products (along with other metal and foundry goods). But as time marched on and manufacturing declined in the Northeast due to competitive disadvantages, Ansonia’s fortunes also receded.
Flood waters and fire (at the Latex Foam Co.) also had a devastating effect on Ansonia, but renewal took place. In 2000, Ansonia was named an “All-America City” as part of the designation bestowed on the communities in the Lower Naugatuck Valley. Downtown Ansonia is situated between the large factory buildings on the north side and the newer shopping areas to the south. Key underutilized parcels in this area include the Farrel site, the Ansonia Technology Park (ATP) and the Palmer Building. Additionally, business/industrial parks include the Hershey Industrial Park, as well as the Fountain Lake Commerce Park where usage needs to be maximized. Not unlike the situation with industrial competition, retailers in the City were faced with competition from regional malls that offered more expansive shopping experiences. Some of these negative impacts have been offset in recent years by the addition of stores such as Target. Ansonia needs to be revived and revitalized through economic growth that is specifically designed to match both its needs and the opportunities that are available. Ansonia’s accessibility to Route 8, its Metro North stop on the Waterbury line connecting to Bridgeport and its being situated on the Naugatuck River within New Haven County are some of the positive elements that can be further leveraged to accomplish this. PLANS AND DOCUMENTS REVIEWED Bartram & Cochran reviewed the following plans and documents in creating the Strategic Economic Development Plan: • • • • • • • • City of Ansonia Connecticut, City Center Plan, January 2006 Ansonia 2008 Strategic Plan of Conservation and Development 2011 Business Survey Results Ansonia Downtown Parking Study 2007 Ansonia Downtown Concept Plan (Yale Urban Design Workshop) 2002 CT Main Street Walking Tour & Assessment-Downtown Ansonia 2009 A History of Ansonia, Bicentennial-1976 Minutes from Ansonia Economic Development Commission
• • • •
Numerous area newspaper articles related to Ansonia Economic Development Naugatuck Valley Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) 2004 CERC Profile of Ansonia Farrel Site Sales Brochure
CURRENT STATUS OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN ANSONIA There are a number of key factors influencing economic development in Ansonia. First, the largely vacant buildings and sites—Farrel, the Ansonia Technology Park (ATP) and the Palmer Building—while presenting opportunities for reuse, also create an image of a city that has fallen on hard times. As with much of the Northeast U.S., heavy manufacturing has departed for other parts of the country or to Asia and this departure has left its mark with empty buildings and increased unemployment. Other smaller vacancies Downtown, combined with non-profit and religious uses do not present a vigorous, active growth image for Ansonia. While some brownfields projects have been successfully completed in the City other key sites (such as the American Copper & Brass site) still have an environmental cloud hanging over them. While cleanup of environmental hazards does not present the insurmountable hurdle of past decades it is still another challenge that must be met when reusing buildings/sites for higher and better uses. Another issue facing Ansonia is the negative perception created by the local press where stories of persistent car thefts, crimes committed with guns, vandalism and improprieties with the City Tax Collector dominate the headlines. With specific respect to economic development, there have been three major focal points over the past few years—the Economic Development Director, the Economic Development Commission and the Mayor. With the untimely death of the Economic Development Director in 2011, the Mayor became the focal point for attracting and retaining business. Even before this occurred, there may have been more of a focus on fair housing issues rather than business development. Over this same period of time the Economic Development Commission has become more active and focused on trying to attract more people and more business activity to Downtown through events (like the Bike Rally) and designing programs (like a revolving loan fund) that are aimed at accomplishing these 9
goals. A resounding theme that describes the past few years is that economic development to the extent that it has occurred has happened by accident. Apparently, the City Center Plan is the closest thing that Ansonia has had to an Economic Development Plan but there has been no vehicle to move it forward. Related plans that were done were too vague to implement; or there was not enough hand holding to get things done. Another significant theme is that the City’s relationship with business is a difficult one. Ansonia is characterized as a tough place to do business. In general, Ansonia’s Boards and Commissions could work together more effectively to attract new business. Zoning has been identified as a stumbling block. Some areas needing fix up may be impeded by zoning. Overlay zones from the City Center Plan are said to be confusing—it is not clear what is allowed and what is not allowed. While there have been a number of obstacles to economic development in Ansonia there are also bright spots. Ansonia’s Harvest Festival, the Bike Rally and the Farmers’ Market are events that in some cases need to be improved or enhanced, but still shed a positive light on the City and establish the groundwork of community spirit needed to take Ansonia to the next level. Restaurants in Ansonia are viewed positively and can often be the magnet that attracts more people to Downtown and this can then draw more business and new business into the City. Ansonia’s historic buildings, such as the Opera House, are positive elements in the City’s overall image as is the Riverwalk. Being part of the Route 8 Enterprise Corridor Zone can help in encouraging business expansion as well as in attracting new business to the City. Ansonia’s Metro North stop functions as another gateway for the City and with some rehabilitation of the station and its surroundings and potential improvements to scheduling it offers a significant opportunity for contributing to the future economic growth of Ansonia, particularly as reuse opportunities are identified that can be coordinated with, and supported by, this transportation hub. A word about the overall commercial real estate market in Connecticut is also in order to better put into perspective the situation in Ansonia. According to the third quarter edition of CT COMpREhensive, a quarterly review providing a pulse for Connecticut’s commercial real estate: • • • A slowdown in overall economic activity in the state has translated into weaker levels of commercial real estate activity in third quarter, 2012. Tepid economic recovery has meant fewer new hires and lackluster retail performance, creating an underlying sense of uncertainty in the commercial real estate sector. The Office Market continued to be affected by sluggish activity within the labor market as employers will not add workers (and hence need more
office space) until demand for products and services becomes more tangible. The Industrial Market which had been helped by healthy export growth in recent years is now facing pressures from European recession. The Retail Market continues to be affected by subdued consumer spending power, sagging consumer confidence (relative to past recoveries) and tepid job growth. Rising gasoline prices are also a factor weighing heavily on this sector, resulting in increases to transportation costs and thus the price of all other goods. The Investment Market is a relative bright spot as the overall economy improves, albeit slowly, and profit margins remain relatively healthy.
Overall, for Ansonia there are still many positive attributes that can be leveraged and opportunities to be seized going forward, while simultaneously resolving some of the constraints that have held back economic development in recent years. INFORMATION INTERVIEWS Information interviews were conducted with the individuals below, identifying the following key Positives/Opportunities and Concerns/Constraints/Issues for economic development in Ansonia: Economic Development Commission members and participating audience members Vincent Scarlata (EDC) Gregg Seccombe (EDC) Keith Murray (EDC) Dave Cassetti (EDC) Charlie Stowe, Alderman John Marini, Alderman Randolph Carroll, Historical Commission Chair Peter Lent, Office of Business Development, CT DECD Cowlis Andrews, Office of Business Development, CT DECD Rick Dunne, Exec. Director, Valley Council of Governments (VCOG) William Purcell, Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce Gregg Seccombe, Owner, Seccombe’s Men’s Shop Ken Kreiger, Owner, Spector Furniture James Lane, VP, Commercial Real Estate, Webster Bank Bill Weirsman, Colonial Properties Phil Donofrio, Owner, Alexander’s Hardware Alan Fischer, Fischer Commercial Real Estate Dave Kelly, General Manager, Spectrum Plastics Group Garrett Sheehan, Economic Development Specialist, United Illuminating Libby Meissner, Owner, Crave Brian Gallant, Owner, Platt St. Grocers & Deli 11
Joe Perun, Manager, People’s United Bank Robert Scinto, R.D. Scinto, Inc. Chris Setaro, Owner, Antonio’s Restaurant Laurie LeBouthillier, Principal, Emmett O’Brien Technical School Atty. James Sheehy, Sheehy & Dillon Law Offices Positives / Opportunities Ansonia’s lakes, reservoir and green space. Concerns / Constraints / Issues Relationship of City with businesses is difficult. Ansonia is a tough town in which to do business. American Copper & Brass has gone from the largest employer in the City to about 12 employees.
Annual Bike Rally—try to tie to businesses; create sustained business for downtown. Pierre Lallement, an early bicycle inventor had lived in Ansonia for awhile. Ansonia could be branded as “Home of the Bicycle.” Finish and launch EDC website as a Economic Development has happened place to read about Ansonia; show space by accident. Former director focused available and vacancies; tie to relevant more on fair housing than economic technology (such as Facebook); show development and as a result did not get EDC logo and City pictures. Use the economic development moving. website as a marketing tool. Consider a After passing of Economic Development “green” scenario tied to green space, Director, Mayor has been point person lakes, reservoir, etc. for business development. Need action plan for Economic Development and a champion/ cheerleader to energize it. Plan must be implementable, reflect the real world and have a number of (smaller) steps to result in success…not be a grandiose vision. City Center Plan was closest thing to an Economic Development Plan but there has been no vehicle to move it forward. Related plans that were done were too vague to implement; or not enough hand holding to get it done. Need to follow through.
Revolving loan program for repairs, rehabilitation and façade improvements; make Main St. more attractive to attract new business and retain existing business. Program details to be worked out; $50,000 in upfront seed money.
Restaurants are a positive “thread” downtown. Need to make Ansonia a destination. Need events that will bring people into town. Need more communication. Need to better accommodate businesses at time of events. Need restaurants like Sonic and CiCi’s Pizza.
Zoning has been a stumbling block. Some areas needing fix up are impeded by zoning. Overlay zones from City Center Plan are confusing—not clear what is allowed and what is not allowed. Properties available should be prezoned so that developers will know what they can do. Limit obstructions. Zoning must be changed or better defined. Ways to generate more community In general, Ansonia’s Boards and interest and spirit. Commissions could work together more effectively to attract new business. Get more High School students involved Brownfields may be an issue. in order to get more adult (parents) involved; project to catalog existing businesses and vacant storefronts that will be included on website. Emmett O’Brien Technical School Social clubs, churches, non-profits— involved in projects in the city and enough of them—zoning to limit these work-based learning programs with area uses. businesses. Potential events to draw people—movie Tax base is terrible now—so hopefully nights; citywide tag sale. commissions will be willing to work together to improve this. Farmers’ Market in Municipal Parking Combining zoning, the City Center Plan Lot—needs to draw more people. and economic development is a challenge—but worth the effort. Revitalize Downtown to make it more Ansonia is almost fully built out. vibrant with activities; then radiate outward. Ansonia Business Council—needed to be Ansonia does not have a wide range of regenerated; last meeting had a big housing opportunities. response. Perception of Ansonia needs to be Unclear who is in charge of what in the improved through positive City’s organizational structure. Unclear communications with the press. for developers where the process starts. Impression should be Ansonia is “alive Lack of effective economic development and vibrant.” coordination. Create relationships with State Not enough shopper traffic. Not enough Government for infrastructure projects; impulse buying. Not enough draw to State Board of Regents for community Downtown. Downtown is not a college use of space in Ansonia; and destination. Trust for Public Land for more effective use of Ansonia green space and green initiatives.
Ansonia has identified all the pieces of Walkways are uneven. the (economic development) puzzle; now the pieces need to be put together. Ansonia Harvest Festival is typically Costs of commercial and residential biggest event in the City. development may not be supported by rent levels. Availability of capital for development may be an issue. A lot of focus on Downtown. City’s perceived image is bad. Empty factory space and mills need to No problem getting engineers, be reused/redeveloped; possibly for management level personnel but hourly manufacturing or an athletic facility. workers are hard to find with qualifications that are needed; and low pay leads to high turnover. Valley Council of Governments (VCOG) Events need to be better run, with more is a partner in cleaning up brownfields. business involvement. Cleanup of American Copper & Brass site has GE partially responsible; Farrel site cleanup has BP and others involved. Ansonia has a lot of historic landmarks A lot of “undesirables” milling about on and Historic District. A lot of historical Main St. keeping other people away buildings on Main St. including the from Downtown. A lot more Downtown oldest Opera House in the state which is activity will dilute that impact. on the National Register of Historic Places. Current owner has rejected uses such as condos and other approaches in order to keep it closer to its original use. Restaurant or theater use would be great. Opportunity for mixed use development Already a lot of residential Downtown; on Main St. Okay to include residential need more commercial activity. How to as part of development but not just attract businesses is #1 issue for residential. Downtown. Riverwalk can draw people from all over the Valley. Tax incentive programs (similar to Tax Increment Financing “TIF”) are being explored. Ansonia is part of an Enterprise Corridor Zone (along Route 8). Get all the diverse elements of the City together in a common effort. Get all the commissions to work together.
Ansonia has strong neighborhoods and a strong City spirit with pride in its schools and athletic teams. Ansonia Nature and Recreation Center is picturesque and an asset with adjoining hiking trails. Re-install confidence to Ansonia. Accessibility to Route 8; develop gateways to bring people downtown including off of Route 8 and Wakelee Avenue Corridor. Need more entertainment and shopping Downtown so you can walk up one side and down the other for this. Currently only the upper and lower areas of Main St. are vibrant with many vacant storefronts or defunct businesses in between. Need boutiques and businesses that are open at night. Restaurants with outdoor seating. Train station is a gateway and could be a real key but needs rehab and surrounding areas cleaned up and better train schedules. Train Station provides access to Fairfield County and NYC jobs. Transit-oriented development opportunities. ATP and Palmer Building may be coming off lease; opportunity for a college campus scenario. Need to catalog existing businesses and then determine what Ansonia needs and wants and then attract those businesses. Small business commitment to staying in Ansonia. Initial development of Fountain Lake Commerce Park—need to get buildings occupied. Potential sites for data centers. Expansion sites for large employers in nearby Valley towns. Potential locations for precision manufacturers, light manufacturing and clean R&D.
Potential locations for suppliers to aerospace/defense industries. Target and Big Y are customer draws for Ansonia. Ansonia has true traditional Downtown versus some of the other surrounding towns. Ansonia has mature but wellmaintained infrastructure (sewer, water, gas, fiber optic trunk line, etc.) for future development. Valley towns of Ansonia, Derby Shelton and Seymour can function together like a larger urban area; each can develop in ways that are complementary to the others. But each is fighting to get development. Provide incentives to developers to convert vacant factory space to mixed use neighborhoods. Goal is a community where people can both live and work. Younger professionals and seniors like to live in downtowns. City controls a number of Downtown properties. Back office operations make sense. For example as back office operations need to expand out of Stamford or reduce their costs, Ansonia is a lower cost option, with connectivity in terms of commuting potential. Back office operations locations do not have an image requirement. As Shelton gets built out development should move northward to Ansonia A lot of good companies in Ansonia and Fountain Lake Commerce Park is a first class development. A number of long time Downtown retailers (furniture, clothing, jewelry) are good foundations for future growth. Need more businesses added. Would like to see another deli/ luncheonette Downtown.
Open areas where a building burnt down should be redeveloped. Downtown needs an aesthetic spruce up to reverse a “bad first impression” coming into town. A revitalized streetscape—including finishing historical lighting, benches and plantings—is essential to attracting business. Need beautification along with development. Need to pursue more grants to get funding for economic development related projects. Proximity to Griffin hospital may present medical office and immediate healthcare opportunities. Rental market is strong (with condo market weak). While the commercial real estate market in Ansonia (and beyond) has been weak over the last 12-18 months, new restaurants have been coming into town making that sector a bright spot. A lot of younger people coming into town. All the towns around Ansonia have started to blossom and now it is Ansonia’s turn. Manufacturing opportunities from expansion within CT and spin-offs, or from more expensive surrounding states. Owners should be required to fix facades—perhaps with partial grants. A community college would be a tremendous opportunity. Banks could be more involved in Economic Development in terms of where to develop, what to develop and financing. PUBLIC MEETING
A Public Meeting was conducted on October 11. 2012 for members of the public to voice their opinions on what opportunities they would like to see come to fruition in Ansonia as well as what they saw as concerns, constraints or issues. Approximately 30 members of the public—residents and business operators— attended. Several people who could not attend also provided their comments via email. Positives / Opportunities Return of small manufacturers/light assembly would be desirable (perhaps along East Main Street). Condos aimed at young professionals can only work if there are more activities/amenities (like restaurants) available for this group. Need a list of new businesses and restaurants distributed to everyone in town so they know of their presence. Merchants need to proactively work together. But there is a lack of communication and confidence. Needs of different types of merchants are different. Need to attract more people to Main Street after they shop at Target. Need more selectively chosen events in town to attract people Downtown. Get people from outside of Town to get to know merchants. More emphasis on arts and education. Create “artspace” in lofts for artists to live/work. Make this a destination for out-of-towners. Create an arts scene. Create spaces in vacant industrial buildings for technology innovation and learning; and incubator for start-ups. Partner with companies like GE and Sikorsky. Consider painting a mural (possibly of history of Ansonia) on brick wall at Bridge Street and Main Street. Riverwalk needs continuity to Derby. Concerns / Constraints / Issues Apparently homeless persons “hanging out” all day in park next to City Hall is a deterrent to new business. “No Loitering” signs suggested. Don’t add housing until there is an increase in businesses. Currently a disconnect exists between government and business. Vacant and rundown storefronts need to be renovated. A burned out site’s appearance is a deterrent to new business. Ansonia is perceived as not welcoming to newcomers. No hard copy local newspaper (to communicate to people in Ansonia about happenings). Need increased sense of community.
Funding for redevelopment is an issue and may require public and private monies. All government boards and commissions need to work together to achieve economic development.
Create more cohesive, consistent upper floor facades along Main Street—colors, signage. Create a sports/event center at Farrel site or Healey Ford site. Get railroad running on schedule with more choices. It could also get people to where jobs are in other areas. (May be a problem with diesel trains on Waterbury-Bridgeport line but with electric trains on New Haven line.) Consider closing Main St. for special events to create a ”pedestrian mall.” On vacant lots create a sculpture park as a showcase for artists (lot still remains for sale). At Opera House—consider live theater performances or foreign films. (Renovation requirements such as for handicapped accessibility, in historic building, may be an impediment.) Need mixed use Downtown and higher income activities for people with money--to spend it Downtown. Need unique shops not strip malls or chain restaurants. Need a movie theater. Need more retail as opposed to service or professional uses Downtown. Need a nucleus of businesses that will keep things working successfully. Some uses may require re-zoning. Prime real estate along the river needs better uses than blighted buildings or low-end housing. Ansonia has one of the better Main Streets, with merchants that most of the other surrounding towns don’t have. Draw people to Downtown from surrounding towns, with restaurants like Crave. Need uniform, compatible facades and signage. Uniform sidewalks also needed. Improve aesthetics and keep things cleaned up.
Perhaps high school plays or talent shows at the Opera House. Ansonia is a good location for a reverse commute to businesses, here versus traffic flow in opposite direction. Restaurants and other businesses have opened on Main Street in the recent past and (many) are still operational. Ansonia has all different size spaces available for small-medium-large businesses. Need one or more anchor businesses. Leverage gateways from Route 8. Signage to direct people to (ample) parking locations. Need signage on Route 8 to get people to shop in town. Make parking lots more inviting and the routes to them more attractive and friendly. Need to create a “welcoming” climate for business and shoppers. Get residents on 2nd floors and they will use local stores. Get building owners involved. Mixed commercial-residential adaptive reuse opportunities. Canal Reservoir—build an access road; install a boat ramp; and some docks to fish off of. Provide incentives to new businesses. Restaurants as a group need to selfpromote and organize events like “Taste of Ansonia.” INVENTORY OF BUSINESSES An Inventory of Businesses for the entire City of Ansonia was categorized as follows (with full details in Appendix A.): CATEGORY Restaurants/Bars Retail 20 TOTAL 30 61 PERCENTAGE 6.8 13.8
Food Stores Non-Profit/Religious Financial Services Professional Services Personal/Commercial Services Health/Fitness Government/Utilities/Associations Manufacturers/Assembly/Sales Automotive/Vehicle Related Construction/Renovation/Maintenance TOTAL
8 30 32 70 60 10 16 24 28 74 443
1.8 6.8 7.2 15.8 13.5 2.3 3.6 5.4 6.3 16.7 100%
Ansonia’s Economic Development Department provided the basic list of businesses that were then cross-checked versus the 2010-2011 Grand Lists as well as with input from the EDC and a Main Street merchant. This information was then categorized, as shown above, into the different sectors described. Excluded from the 443 businesses inventoried are City Hall, police and fire functions. Interestingly, retail, professional services, personal/commercial services and construction/renovation/maintenance are the largest sectors and all roughly around 13-17% of the total business community. Combining non-profit/religious entities with government/utilities/associations still only amounts to just over 10%, remembering that City Hall, fire and police have been excluded. Numbers aside for the City as a whole, as one walks through Downtown Ansonia there is still a perception that religious, non-profit and related uses are more prevalent than what would be expected in a vigorous and expanding economic environment where retail, restaurant, office uses, professional services, personal and commercial services, residential and other attractions, in combination, present a more dynamic image. This inventory will be examined further in combination with the surplus/leakage data to determine the best business, retail and other uses to try to attract to Ansonia. MARKET AREA Ansonia’s market area is influenced by many factors. While Ansonia is right on the Route 8 corridor between Waterbury and Bridgeport, the Downtown is somewhat isolated from Route 8—it is not right at a highway exit. Commuters into Ansonia come from the following towns: 21
Ansonia (itself) 1,335 Seymour 357 Derby 324 Shelton 259 Oxford 163 Waterbury 154 New Haven 130 Beacon Falls 94 Milford 90 Orange 90
Based on the geographic analysis as well as discussions with businesses, the market area can most realistically be defined as a 20 minute drive time. While there are some businesses with customers from beyond the 20 minute drive time, those customers would tend to be outliers and not the majority of people frequenting Ansonia. Portrayed in the exhibit below, in the outer (more lightly) shaded area is the 20 minute drive time boundary extending from Waterbury (to the north) to Bridgeport (to the south), and Greater New Haven (to the east) to Fairfield County (to the west). Traffic Counts are also shown as described in the legend below the graphic as well as in the counts displayed on the map.
Ansonia Market Area and Traffic Counts Ansonia, Connecticut, United States Latitude: 41.346208 Drive Time: 10, 20 Minutes Longitude: -73.078997
Source: ©2011 MPSI (Market Planning Solutions Inc.) Systems Inc. d.b.a. DataMetrix®
Traffic Count Map
REAL ESTATE TRENDS AND ANALYSIS Trends As shown in the following graphical displays (source: Loopnet), real estate trends in multifamily, office, industrial and retail properties since 2006 have fluctuated up and down for both Connecticut and New Haven County. However, in most cases, asking prices for properties for sale are lower today (as of July, 2012) compared to 2006. Looking just at trends over the past year (July 2011 to July 2012): • Multifamily Asking Prices are up 8.8% in New Haven County while down 5.9% for Connecticut • Office Asking Prices are up 0.2% for New Haven County while down 7.1% for Connecticut • Industrial Asking Prices are down 9.3% for New Haven County versus being down 2.0% for Connecticut • Retail Asking Prices are down 10.7% for New Haven County versus being down 3.3% for Connecticut Overall, New Haven County asking prices versus the State are slightly higher for Multifamily, about the same for Office, slightly lower for Industrial and significantly lower for Retail.
Multifamily Property Asking Price Index - Sale Trends
Office Property Asking Price Index - Sale Trends
Industrial Property Asking Price Index - Sale Trends
Retail Property Asking Price Index - Sale Trends
Looking at leasing trends, as shown below, a somewhat different story emerges. Office leasing was more stable over the period 2006- 2012. Over the 12-month 26
period July 2011 to July 2012, New Haven County asking rents were up 1.9% compared to 2.4% for Connecticut, although the County average was about $3/SF less than the State overall. So the County has a pricing advantage in Office leasing rates. Industrial leasing trends fluctuated considerably over the 2006-2012 period, with New Haven County down 4.5% versus down 2.7% for Connecticut over the last 12 months (July 2011 to July 2012). Retail leasing trends also fluctuated considerably over the 2006-2012 period, with New Haven County down 3.9% versus down 2.1% for Connecticut over the last 12 months (July 2011 to July 2012). Average lease rates in the County were about $3/SF lower than the State overall. So the County has a pricing advantage in Retail leasing rates.
Office Property Asking Rent - Lease Trends
Industrial Property Asking Rent - Lease Trends
Retail Property Asking Rent - Lease Trends
Other trends underway, at large, include: • Residential—A still fragile housing sector beginning to hint at a recovery possibly underway—but until then the apartment sector remains strong
• • •
Retail—More willingness to spend by households—subject to what happens with respect to the government dealing with deficits Office—Private sector employment growth needs to continue to signal business growth and expansion Industrial—Potential growth in U.S. manufacturing as growth in Asian wages combined with relatively higher cost of product transportation from the Far East make domestic production more competitive
Finally, we can compare the above New Haven County Asking Sale Prices and Rents to Ansonia prices in order to gauge Ansonia’s relative competitiveness. Possible differences in condition, relative location desirability and possible financial distress do, of course, influence pricing. Both asking price and closed transactions from a variety of sources (including Loopnet, CERC and Craigslist) were used, where data was available.
Multifamily Sales $/Unit Office $/SF Industrial $/SF Retail $/SF
New Haven County $59,000 $113 $52 $107
Ansonia $51,389 $14 – $68 $7 - $44 $43 - $67
Office $/SF Industrial $/SF Retail $/SF
New Haven County $15 $6 $12
Ansonia $10 -$22 (higher end for medical office) $3 - $7 and as high as $10 $4 - 15
In general, then, Ansonia real estate pricing appears to 0ffer some very competitive opportunities. Analysis
Bartram & Cochran walked the Downtown along Main Street (from the Farrel site to the Ansonia Shopping Center), as well as East Main Street and West Main Street. Additionally we traversed all the surrounding areas, as well as the portion of Main Street from the Ansonia Shopping Center to Division Street, the Hershey Industrial Park and the Fountain Lake Commerce Park. It is noteworthy that one can see the entire way from the end at Maple Street to the other end at Tremont Street along Main Street. And this can also be characterized, positively, as a very stereotypical New England Downtown. Our observations include the following: • No traffic or roadway issues were observed. Obviously Downtown is not immediately accessible from the Route 8 Corridor but this must be addressed through measures and techniques other than logistics. Pedestrian access and mobility throughout the Downtown appears excellent and with some exceptions sidewalks are generally adequate. Occasionally there is also asphalt paving where sidewalks would be expected. Parking seems relatively abundant with the large West Main Street and East Main Street public parking lots as well as on-street parking (and the potential—perhaps of an interim nature—of the recently paved lot at the Farrel site). It should be noted, however, at the West Main Street parking lot, the large concrete wall to the west is overbearing and unattractive. Historic street lighting along Main Street is a definite plus and adds character to the Downtown. Land use and zoning can be complex issues especially when zones have evolved over time and adjacent uses may sometimes appear incompatible. However, current land use and zoning appears reasonable and the addition of the City Center (overlay) Zone allowing commercial uses and residential above seems to present a flexible approach going forward. There are no apparent conflicts with the surrounding areas. No infrastructure issues appear to exist. Water, sewer, electric and gas are available. Fiber optics for internet access is also generally available (typically with a coaxial cable connection from the fiber optics at the street into the business or residence). A fiber optics connection from the street into the business or residence is also available—albeit at a higher cost. Entrance to the Downtown from Maple Street to the North is initiated by the sight of the Farrel Manufacturing buildings on the right-hand side. These buildings, if adaptively reused and refreshed would present a very 30
attractive entry to Downtown as typical brick manufacturing buildings that are reused for other purposes and are representative of the type of transformations that exist across the Northeast and beyond. Entry to the “old” Downtown from the south—after the Ansonia Shopping Center—at Tremont and Main Streets presents an unpretentious, tired mostly one-story presence. • Downtown’s character is multi-faceted. There are grand historical structures such as City Hall, the Post Office, the old Savings Bank of Ansonia building, the Opera House and the old Osman & Cheesman factory building. (Nearby areas also have some magnificent historical buildings such as the old Ansonia Armory, the Ansonia Library, and the stone churches.) Many authentic brick structures of two or more stories also abound, often with upper floor residential uses above street level commercial uses. Different size buildings with different architectural styles and a variety of building materials add to the unique character of Downtown where most buildings are a sidewalks distance from the street. But there are distractions and detractions. An empty lot across the street (just to the north) from the Post Office is filled with piles of dirt. A vacant Farrel factory building on East Main Street just north of the ATP is also visible from Main Street and projects a blighted, derelict appearance. While some businesses have a clean, professional look others are worn out looking and may have an amateurish business sign that appears haphazardly put together. Many of the businesses on the street are housed in one story, very tired looking structures with unattractive, inconsistent facades and signage. This lends an unappealing aura to the Downtown overall. However, the nucleus of a dynamic downtown is there—but refreshing exteriors, achieving continuity and imbuing a sense of energy are needed. Downtown is a mix of commercial uses, professional uses, service providers, restaurants, entertainment and residential, as well as public uses, non-profits and religious activities. To the casual observer this is a reasonable mix and not weighted disadvantageously. Our recommendations will detail future use recommendations in terms of what types of uses Ansonia should seek to attract. A very different scenario from the “old” Downtown is apparent at the Ansonia Shopping Center, anchored by Big Y, and the Target across the street. These are of a much larger scale and presence than the smaller business Downtown. As one progresses from these sites to Division Street there are a potpourri of less densely populated businesses from Healey Ford (vacant—and a very desolate landscape in the City Center) to commercial uses to professional services to retail to auto related services, with an equally wide variety of building types. A small retail development 31
on the west side is currently advertised as build-to-suit for up to five different business occupants—bit its current condition projects a blighted, unattractive and bedraggled appearance. • Both the Fountain Lake Commerce Park and Hershey Industrial Park are well located with access to Route 8. Light industrial, assembly and warehousing/distribution uses are appropriate uses at the Hershey Industrial Park where the flex buildings are attractive for these types of uses. At the Fountain Lake Commerce Park, the two current businesses, Homa Pump Technology and Spectrum Plastics Group have attractive buildings and the portion of the site that Robert Scinto is developing has great potential for his targeted areas of research and development or light manufacturing.
DEMOGRAPHIC AND ECONOMIC CHARACTERISTICS Key demographic and economic characteristics for the City of Ansonia are shown in the exhibits that follow. Some relevant observations and additional information about Ansonia include: • Population change from 2010 to 2017 shows projected growth at 3.5% with an increase from 19,249 to an estimated 19,914. Similarly, households are expected to increase from 7,510 to an estimated 7,709. Median age for Ansonia (38.4) is just slightly above the U.S. level (37.3). Of the population 25 years or older, Ansonia’s percentage with college degrees is 21% versus 36% for the State.
(source: CERC Town Profile 2012)
• • •
Unemployment in Ansonia is at 10.2% compared to 9.0% for the State.
(source: Bureau of Labor Statistics-Oct. 2012)
White collar workers comprise 55.5% of the workforce compared to service (19.6%) and blue collar (24.9%) workers. Occupation by Industry shows the largest sector is 32
Educational Services/Health Care/Social Assistance at 25.4%, with Retail Trade at 17.3% and Manufacturing at 15.5%. • • • • Median household income is projected to rise from around $50,870 currently (1.4% above the U.S. average) to an estimated $56,256 in 2017. 52.8% of the housing units are owner-occupied, while 39.6% are renteroccupied and 7.7% are vacant. Median home value is currently at approximately $195,811. 9.5% of all families (and 11.6% of all people) are below the poverty level.
Subject OCCUPATION Civilian employed population 16 years and over
Ansonia city, Connecticut Estimate 9,743 Percent
Management, business, science, and arts occupations Service occupations Sales and office occupations Natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations Production, transportation, and material moving occupations
2,870 1,913 2,535 1,006 1,419
29.5% 19.6% 26.0% 10.3% 14.6%
INDUSTRY Civilian employed population 16 years and over 9,743 Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and mining 38 Construction 794 Manufacturing 1,515 Wholesale trade 197 Retail trade 1,687 Transportation and warehousing, and utilities 284 Information 170 Finance and insurance, and real estate and rental and 466 leasing Professional, scientific, and management, and 977 administrative and waste management services Educational services, and health care and social 2,470 assistance Arts, entertainment, and recreation, and 413 accommodation and food services Other services, except public administration 403 Public administration 329 CLASS OF WORKER Civilian employed population 16 years and over Private wage and salary workers Government workers Self-employed in own not incorporated business workers Unpaid family workers
0.4% 8.1% 15.5% 2.0% 17.3% 2.9% 1.7% 4.8% 10.0% 25.4% 4.2% 4.1% 3.4%
9,743 8,081 1,137 525 0
9,743 82.9% 11.7% 5.4% 0.0%
PERCENTAGE OF FAMILIES AND PEOPLE WHOSE INCOME IN THE PAST 12 MONTHS IS BELOW THE POVERTY LEVEL All families All people Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2007-2011 American Community Survey
A breakdown of businesses by sector for Ansonia shows the following: Ansonia Business Patterns – Breakdown of Businesses by Sector (Source: 2010 Zip Code Business Patterns, U.S. Census) # Estabs. Sectors 266 (100%) Total for all sectors 28 (10.5%) Construction 16 (6.0%) Manufacturing 8 (3.0%) Wholesale trade 50 (18.8%) Retail trade 5 (1.9%) Transportation and warehousing 13 (4.9%) Finance and insurance 8 (3.0%) Real estate and rental and leasing 22 (8.3%) Professional, scientific, and technical services 15 (5.6%) Administrative Support, Waste Mgmt and Remediation Srvs
5 (1.9%) 37 (13.9%) 2 (0.8%) 17 (6.4%) 40 (15.0%)
Educational services Health care and social assistance Arts, entertainment, and recreation Accommodation and food services Other services (except public administration)
While these numbers may vary in total and categorization from those in the Inventory of Business Analysis, the above breakdown is still another tool useful in examining the types of businesses in Ansonia relative to determining the types of businesses that would be desirable to attract. Other Services include a variety of entries such as auto related services, equipment repair and maintenance, salons, funeral services, dry cleaning, pet care, religious organizations, civic and social organizations and others. That category along with Health Care/Social Assistance, Professional/Scientific/ Technical Services, Retail and Construction are the largest sectors accounting for over 66% of the businesses.
MARKET AND CUSTOMER SEGMENTATION Determining the highest and best uses for the City of Ansonia involves evaluating a variety of factors. Among these factors is the Surplus/Leakage Analysis that shows for each retail category whether there is a leakage of retail opportunities— where customers within the trade area are buying outside of the trade area—or a surplus—where customers are drawn in from outside the trade area. Leakage is shown as a positive factor (up to +100, representing complete leakage) and surplus as a negative factor (up to -100, representing complete surplus). The difference in dollars between the Demand (Retail Potential) and Supply (Retail Sales Projection) is the Retail Gap. This exhibit is based on the Retail MarketPlace forecast for 2015. Shown in the exhibits below are the results for the City of Ansonia. A graphical portrayal in the second exhibit is perhaps the most direct way to see where the
most significant surplus and leakage exists, shown both by Industry Subsector and the more specifically defined Industry Group. Significant surpluses exist for • Department Stores • Used Merchandise Stores Significant leakages exist for • Home Furnishing Stores • Electronic And Appliance Stores • Building Materials and Supplies Dealers • Lawn and Garden Equipment and Supplies Stores • Specialty Food Stores • Clothing Stores • Shoe Stores • Jewelry, Luggage and Leather Goods Stores • Books, Periodicals and Music Stores • Other General Merchandise Stores • Office Supplies, Stationery and Gift stores • Other Miscellaneous Store Retailers • Electronic Shopping and Mail Order Houses • Vending Machine Operators • Special Food Services
Another detailed data set, shown below, indicates for a variety of detailed categories, the spending and related habits of persons in Ansonia. This information shows the number and percentage of persons/households doing the spending or related behavior as well as the Market Potential Index (MPI) which is a measure of the relative likelihood of the persons/households to exhibit the consumer behavior or purchasing patterns compared to the U.S. average of 100. So an MPI of less than 100 indicates activity below the U.S. average and above 100 indicates activity above the U.S. average. 41
Categories include: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Apparel Automobiles Automotive Aftermarket Beverages Cameras & Film Cell Phones/PDAs and Service Computers Convenience Stores Entertainment Financial Grocery Health Home Related Insurance Pets Reading Materials Restaurants Telephones & Service Television & Sound Equipment Travel
This detailed information will supplement other market and customer related data to inform the evaluation of highest and best uses in Ansonia.
Finally, to better evaluate customer behavior, segmentation into customer groups identifies and labels these groups based on similar tastes, lifestyles, life stage and behavior. And, as with the previous market data, this will better inform the highest and best uses for Ansonia. The totality of the customer segment groups
forms a community “tapestry” from which the most significant groups can be further analyzed. In the Retail Goods and Services Expenditures exhibit below, the top five Tapestry Segments have been aggregated and account for over 90% of the spending behavior in Ansonia. These top five Tapestry Segments are characterized (on a national basis) as follows: • Main Street USA—a mix of married couples and singles. Median household income is $55,144. 20% have college degrees. 61% live in single-family homes. Active members of the community. Like to eat out at Friendly’s, Red Robin or their favorite bar. Like bowling, ice skating or rent a movie. May take aerobics classes. Shopping online is growing. Rely on the yellow pages to find stores. Do own home remodeling. Prosperous Empty Nesters—Over half are 55 or older. Median household income is $69,834. Transitioning from child rearing to retirement. Invest prudently for the future. Well established careers particularly in education and healthcare. Mostly single-family housing pre-1980. Like golfing and boating. Like Eddie Bauer clothes. Have a luxury car. Old and Newcomers—are in transition and typically renting. Starting careers or retiring. Median household income is $42,971. Above average education. Compact cars. Like reading and going to the movies and renting DVDs. Enjoy cooking, sports and jogging or walking. International Marketplace—Young, mostly married with children. Diverse population including over half Hispanic plus Asian. Median household income is $46,380. Below average education. Larger than average household size. Live in older, urban neighborhoods. Mostly renters. Products for the home are important. Like to shop at Macy’s, Marshalls and Costco and Rite-Aid for a drugstore. Make quick purchases at convenience stores. Enjoy television, movies and sports. Cozy and Comfortable—middle aged married couples, comfortable, settled in single-family homes in older neighborhoods. Median age is 41.9. In no hurry to retire. Represent a variety of occupations and industries. Median household income is $65,768. Consult a financial planner. Do some of their own home improvements. Eat at family restaurants. Have computers that are old. Like television.
Included in the exhibit is the Spending Potential Index (SPI) which represents spending compared to a U.S. average of 100.
HIGHEST AND BEST USE ANALYSIS Our Highest and Best Use Analysis is based upon the previous work completed including: • • Review of existing Plans and Documents Assessment of the Current Status of Economic Development in Ansonia
• • • • • • •
Information Interviews with state, regional and local contacts in both the public and private sectors Feedback from Public Meeting #1 Inventory of Businesses categorized into major sectors Determination of the Market Area for Ansonia Description of Real Estate Trends and Analysis of Downtown and adjacent areas and Industrial Parks Analysis of the Demographic and Economic factors underlying Ansonia Determination of Market and Customer Segmentation for Ansonia
This analysis includes evaluating the retail gap in terms of the amount of square footage supportable, and an assessment of all potential uses in terms of sustainability. In summary, the Highest and Best Uses are as follows: Retail • • • • • • • • • • Home Furnishing Stores Electronic And Appliance Stores/Toys and Games Building Materials and Supplies Dealers Specialty Food Stores Clothing and Shoe Stores Restaurants/Entertainment Jewelry, Luggage and Leather Goods Stores Warehouse Clubs/Superstores Office Supplies, Stationery and Gift Stores Pet Supplies
Industrial/Warehouse/Flex/Specialized Needs • Research & Development • Light Manufacturing/Assembly • Precision Manufacturing • Businesses that Supply the Aerospace/Defense Industries • Back Office Operations/Storage • Data Centers • Community College/Educational-Training Facilities
Office • Medical Office and Healthcare Uses Residential • Apartments as part of Mixed Use Development • Artists Lofts—Live-Work Space plus Commercial Arts Space Attached separately (Attachment 1) are three spreadsheets that show five-year detailed projections of potential business (and residential) attraction for each of the uses shown above. Separate spreadsheets identify the “Most Likely” scenario (worksheet #1), a “Conservative” scenario (worksheet #2) and an “Aggressive” scenario (worksheet #3). Each spreadsheet indicates for Year 1, Years 2-3 and Years 4-5 • Number of Businesses Attracted (excludes apartments) • Number of Square Feet (SF) • Number of Direct Jobs • Number of Total Jobs (including multiplier effect) Then, Attachment 2 shows for each business or residential use in the Most Likely scenario • the most likely location with respect to Key Sites—including Farrel (East), Healey Ford Site, Fountain Lake Commerce Park, Farrel (West), Hershey Industrial Park, ATP and the Palmer Building; other unspecified locations are either reuse of existing space or new construction • Increases to the Grand List, where applicable • Increases to Real Property Taxes (by sector) • Increases to Personal Property Taxes (by sector) Also shown in this attachment are all the underlying assumptions.
For the Most Likely Scenario, the bottom line summary is as follows: Year 1
Business es SF Direct Jobs Total Jobs
47 317,450 460 628
16 152,500 282 408
Cumulative 5-Yr. Total
72 519,700 873 1,217
9 49,750 131 181
Increase s to Grand List Increase s to Real Property Taxes Increase s to Personal Property Taxes
$1,837,50 0 $50,807
$11,903,85 0 $292,561
$18,272,10 0 $468,643
Consequently, over the above five-year planning horizon, commercial vacancy in Ansonia will be significantly reduced as a result of the growth in business that is projected. Also, it should be noted that granting incentives, such as TIFs, to attract business would reduce the projected increase to tax revenues, temporarily. BRANDING A “brand” creates an image, a perception, an inspiration, a lifestyle. It imparts a sense of what a place is all about in only a few words. It establishes this in the “minds eye” of the viewer or listener. The branding recommendation for Ansonia combines authenticity, energy and community spirit with a positive look toward the future, using a recognizable variation of the Ansonia High School sports symbol:
This brand builds on Ansonia’s community spirit and pride in its sports success and promotes economic development for the future. It establishes Ansonia as a place for entrepreneurs, unique businesses and others, as well as residents. Bringing this all together in some carefully chosen words and with a recognizable logo is the essence of what this brand will represent for the City of Ansonia. 53
Additionally, this brand will be a key part of the business attraction campaign to bring new businesses, developers and residents to town.
(Note: use of the Chargers logo will need to be further explored, and, if it should be unavailable, a more contemporized version may need to be created.)
ACTION STEPS These recommendations (some of which are further described in the Marketing Plan section of this report) include immediate actions (meaning to be started as soon as possible and worked on in the near term) to show progress as well as longer terms strategies for success toward the goal of making Ansonia a vibrant community where people live/work/play: Immediate Actions • Announce completion of Strategic Economic Development Plan, Key Recommendations and Next Steps, to demonstrate follow-through; then, as additional progress is made, each step should be announced to the media so that the public sees “things are happening” in Ansonia. Develop an inventory of all available properties in Ansonia and make this available on the EDC Website Specify the incentives available through the Route 8 Enterprise Corridor Zone and display this on the EDC Website Establish a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) program to encourage business attraction and expansion within the City and describe this on the EDC Website; and as part of the review process, confirm the potential recipient’s projected financial viability over the term of the TIF Create a marketing collateral for Ansonia including key Ansonia facts, the new brand, positive attributes, visuals, incentives, map and contact information that makes the case for the City in terms of prospective business/development attraction. More clearly communicate the definition of the City Center (overlay) Zone Make it clear who the primary contact is for development in Ansonia Invite all Greater Ansonia area real estate brokers to Ansonia for a “Red Carpet Tour.” Starting at City Hall with a presentation on the key findings from the Strategic Economic Development Plan—including the incentives available for new businesses coming to town, the tour would then travel to 54
• • •
• • •
key sites such as the Farrel site, the Palmer Building, the ATP, the Healey Ford site, the Hershey Industrial Park and Fountain Lake Commerce Park. • Brownfields—a number of brownfield sites in Ansonia have had contamination issues remediated and the sites have been reused. However, some large sites in the City Center are reported to have potential environmental issues that may delay or impede their reuse possibilities, although prior owners have reportedly indemnified the future clean-up of the sites. It will be imperative that these sites have clearly defined environmental condition reports (including, for example, Phase I Assessment, Phase II Analysis, Cleanup documentation, Indemnification statements, etc.) available for review by prospective parties interested in reuse opportunities and related redevelopment. Establish a Year-Round set of events for Ansonia to constantly draw people into town and thus make them more aware of restaurants, stores and entertainment venues that they will want to return to time and time again on a regular basis Develop a program to attract Target and Big Y shoppers to the rest of Downtown, including working with these two big players as well as Downtown businesses on a joint advertising effort Downtown façade/signage improvements (and loan program)—a “design review team” should be an integral part of the loan program in order to assure the continuity that is needed for the storefront and buildings in Downtown Gateway signage at both ends of “Old Main Street” ( at Maple and Tremont Streets)—subject to funding availability Install banners with the new City brand on periodic light poles along “Old Main Street” to not only display the new brand but also to create a sense of place for the center of town—subject to funding availability Create a mural of Ansonia’s history on the large concrete wall adjacent to the West Main Street parking lot—subject to funding availability
Longer Term Actions • Improve the Train Station stop and surrounding area and train schedule
• • • •
Attract several “destination” restaurants to town, ones that have a unique cuisine, a unique vibe or both (this is both immediate and longer term) Better leverage the Historical Buildings in town to draw people to Ansonia Add benches/planters to Main Street (when funding is available) Address aspects of blight/decay throughout the Downtown where there are empty lots that are not well-kept, buildings that appear abandoned, sidewalks that need fixing. Looking ahead, either stricter enforcement of existing blight ordinances or more stringent new ordinances may be needed to resolve this issue as more reuse, beautification and renewal efforts move forward.
MARKETING PLAN – BUSINESS ATRACTION Marketing Ansonia to attract businesses and developers requires a multi-faceted approach. First, a positive background “aura” needs to be established to set the stage for the target marketing to businesses and developers. This has several aspects associated with it, with highlights as follows: • First, upon completion of the Strategic Economic Development Plan, the key results should be communicated to the public—through the regional media—along with plans for implementing the next steps…so they see that there will be follow through…from plan to implementation. Then, as additional progress is made, each step should be announced to the media so that the public sees “things are happening” in Ansonia. One such step is the EDC Website, that when completed, should include an inventory of all available properties in Ansonia as well as a description of all incentives available to businesses including the Route 8 Enterprise Corridor Zone and potential Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and façade improvement programs. Another key step is to establish and announce a Year-Round set of events for Ansonia to constantly draw people into town and thus make them more aware of restaurants, stores and entertainment venues that they will want to return to time and time again on a regular basis. Additional beautification/identification steps would include Gateway signage at both ends of “Old Main Street” (at Maple and Tremont Streets), banners with the new City brand on periodic light poles along “Old Main Street” to not only display the new brand but also to create a sense of place for the center of town and creating a mural of Ansonia’s history on the large concrete wall adjacent to the West Main Street parking lot. 56
These steps and their communication will establish a positive backdrop against which to successfully market Ansonia to the target businesses and developers needed to bring the highest and best uses to the City. As identified in the Highest and Best Uses analysis the following are the targeted uses: Retail • • • • • • • • • • Home Furnishing Stores Electronic And Appliance Stores/Toys and Games Building Materials and Supplies Dealers Specialty Food Stores Clothing and Shoe Stores Restaurants/Entertainment Jewelry, Luggage and Leather Goods Stores Warehouse Clubs/Superstores Office Supplies, Stationery and Gift Stores Pet Supplies
Industrial/Warehouse/Flex/Specialized Needs • • • • • • • Office • Medical Office and Healthcare Uses Research & Development Light Manufacturing/Assembly Precision Manufacturing Businesses that Supply the Aerospace/Defense Industries Back Office Operations/Storage Data Centers Community College/Educational-Training Facilities
Residential • • Apartments as part of Mixed Use Development Artists Lofts—Live-Work Space plus Commercial Arts Space
To attract these businesses and developers a targeted marketing campaign is recommended where targeted businesses and developers are identified (in the implementation phase of the effort), as appropriate, for each use. Then a cover letter and marketing collateral is mailed to each target business/developer. For businesses, the target recipient would be the owner or CEO or president to assure 57
the right level of authority is involved. Then a follow-up telephone call to each target recipient is made to gauge their potential level of interest and answer any questions. If interested, then specific, particular sites can be discussed and a potential site and City tour arranged. Meetings with City officials up through the Mayor would also be utilized where appropriate. In selecting the target businesses that would be attracted to Ansonia, the focus should start with businesses in the Greater Ansonia Area that might consider having an additional (typically second) location or might be considering expansion (and do not have enough space where they are currently located) or relocation (for a variety of reasons). Then the focus should move outward to anywhere within the State of Connecticut and ultimately New England. There may be instances where national businesses are targeted but this would likely come much later in the process. It is also important to address the sequencing of the target marketing and the following order is suggested in terms of both having the most significant initial impacts as well as addressing key vacancies: • • • • (1) Retail (2) Industrial/Warehouse/Flex/Specialized Needs (2) Residential (3) Office
Getting more retail (and the inherent related street activity that comes with it) in the City will be one key to helping to further attract specialized needs, residential and office uses. This is not to say that all retail contacts have to precede the other categories, but rather to have the initial emphasis in the order just shown. This is also consistent with the Most Likely Scenario (spreadsheet) included in the Highest and Best Use Analysis. Also, the planning and development horizon associated with residential may be longer than the other sectors. Another key role for retail (particularly destination retailers and destination restaurants) relates to our “3 stop rule.” People may come in to shop at a clothing store, and then go browse for an antique and then look for a gift for someone and by then they could stay for lunch or dinner…in this way the three stops have led to a meal…and more importantly they have hopefully spent more time and more money in town because there is much to do and see and buy. Destination retail and destination restaurants are of course the biggest draws to get people to come to town and once there the additional businesses can get customers as a result of the increased destination traffic. Another aspect of this approach is the feedback loop. As conversations with businesses and developers ensue, there may be conclusions that surface indicating there should be changes or additions to the information being
communicated to increase effectiveness. These changes would then make successful outcomes more likely. Marketing Collaterals An effective marketing collateral for Ansonia would be a colorful 8 1/2'’ by 11” page (two-sided) or an 11” by 17” page (two-sided), folded to make four separate pages. Key Ansonia facts, the new brand, positive attributes, visuals, incentives, map and contact information would be combined to make the case for the City in terms of prospective business/development attraction. Then a cover letter would be crafted to more generally introduce the recipient to Ansonia, explain the Strategic Economic Development Plan key results and why they should consider Ansonia for their business or development and identify the contact for further information. Real Estate Related Approaches Upon completion of the inventory of all available properties in Ansonia, all identified properties should be listed both on the CERC website as well as on LoopNet. This will require working closely with the real estate brokers representing the privately owned properties. Also, each key property needs to have an information sheet that includes pricing and any related environmental issues status. Then all Greater Ansonia area real estate brokers should be invited to Ansonia for a “Red Carpet Tour.” Starting at City Hall with a presentation on the key findings from the Strategic Economic Development Plan—including the incentives available for new businesses coming to town, the tour would then travel to key sites such as the Farrel site, the Palmer Building, the ATP, the Healey Ford site, the Hershey Industrial Park and Fountain Lake Commerce Park. Key Ansonia City Officials, Commission Members and Staff would be in attendance to show the brokers that Ansonia is open and ready for new business. Finally, communications with each of these brokers should be maintained through quarterly updates on Ansonia business and residential development.