Sunday, July 20, 2008

Downtown Stamford is dead

Don’t panic – I’m not talking about the nightlife, I’m talking about land. I can’t believe there are so many dead spots – empty lots, holes in the ground – all over downtown. It’s astounding that in a popular, vibrant city like ours there is so much land lying fallow; no disrespect to Bridgeport, but you’d expect this in a depressed city like our blighted neighbor to the north. I guess the tax write-offs are more valuable to the owners than any fruitful income the land might produce.

Here’s a rundown of the top “dead spots” in Downtown Stamford:

City Place

I’d be pissed if I had bought a luxury condo at the corner of Washington Boulevard and North Street, gone away to the south of France for three years expecting to return to my new digs, and come back to THIS:

Well, the upside is that you've got valet parking...

...and grocery delivery.

Broad Street, down the block from 122 Pizza Bistro

This corner has been empty for a loooong time, and Blog Stamford found an apparently dead proposal for it. It’s odd that this lot has sat for so long considering it has a huge parking lot already in place, plus great exposure on Broad Street. Maybe the McDonald’s crowd scares off any potential developers.

Broad Street, on the corner of Broad and Greyrock

How can Stamford have matching empty lots on one of its busiest downtown thoroughfares? Maybe that traffic cop knows the reason. Or maybe the “coming soon to this location” sign can tell me.


The coming soon sign used to have a rendering of a nice mixed-use building in, what else, gray and red brick.

The west side of Washington Blvd., between Main Street and Park Place

This is the big grassy lot across from Trump Parc and the new Aria restaurant. I believe they razed some houses and small buildings here, but nothing has gone up in their place. I also read somewhere that this is intended to become part of the Mill River Park eventually.

Here’s a shot of the back side of Whittaker Place, a strange little street with one house on it that runs through the empty area and ends right next to the Mill River Styx.

Another shot from the other side of the empty lot. Looks like business is booming for Robert S. Weiss & Company.

Greyrock & Main Street, next to the AT&T building

The good news: this tiny parcel of land next to the mall sits quietly awaiting its rebirth as THE LUXE!

The bad news: it’s on the same block as…


I’m not a fan of using eminent domain outside of transportation or other clearly public purposes, but is there some solution to this problem? Can the city and/or state create some sort of incentive package to get the owners to either develop this site or sell it?

It pisses me off that most of the owners of these sites are sitting on them and collecting their tax write-offs while they wait for their neighbors to improve their real estate values.

Honorable Mention

The west side of Bedford Street

I know we’ve griped about this at length, but the empty stretch of stores on Bedford Street is disheartening, embarrassing and just awful. I applaud the owner for wanting to attract high-end retail, especially in the shadow of the mall, but it’s been at least two years since the food market closed and at least a year since Temple closed. Get something in there, for cryin’ out loud!

The east side of Atlantic Street, south of Broad

I hate how the mall not only set local and mom-n-pop businesses back 20 years, but also how the whole Landmark monolith killed Main Street and Atlantic Street. And our veterans would be disgusted if they saw how trashed Veterans’ Park is.

It’s not the biggest picture, but Atlantic used to look like this:

It’s a typical 1950’s downtown, with Billy & Susie going to the local department store with Mom to buy school supplies. Then along came the big, ugly, brown turd that is the Stamford Town Center and Landmark Square, and now the block looks like this:

Of course the Palace is amazing, and there are some great restaurants (mmm…Galangal) and other spots, but overall, this stretch of Atlantic doesn’t even come close to Bedford and Summer.

Well, that’s my list of the lowlights of Downtown Stamford. Did I miss any? Any disputes with my gripes?

Living and loving the C-T-Dub,

(Click the images below to read comments from my original post. You can post new comments at the very bottom of this post.)

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