Friday, December 26, 2008

Stamford traditions

Taking a cue from my buddies at Stamford Talk and Blog Stamford, I wanted to compile a year-end list of something, but since I only launched Streets of Stamford this year, I don't have enough back posts to make a list. So instead, and in no particular order, here are some Stamford traditions and whether or not I've done them.

Colony Pizza (check!)
I've been there twice, and it's good pizza, but far from the greatest thing I've ever tasted; then again, I'm from Long Island, where the pizza is second only to NYC's. They do have some cool varieties like the Stinger (hot peppers and spicy oil), which goes great with a cold mug of beer.

Stamford vs. Westhill (not yet)
I know not everyone is into high school sports, but there's nothing like a local rivalry for excitement and fun. I missed this year's football game, so I'm shooting for basketball or hockey, and because I live right near SHS, I guess I'm rooting for the Black Knights!

The revolving restaurant atop the Marriott (check!)
It's closed now, but I ate at this restaurant when it was Vuli. The food was very good and the revolving floor was nice (though it made it hard to find your table after visiting the restroom!). However, I guess they were going for views of the Sound, because it faces the South End, which is less picturesque than the other end of Stamford (at least for now).

See the balloon parade (check!)
Extra credit: be in the balloon parade (check!)
Partial credit: see Santa rappel from Landmark Square (check!)
I was a balloon handler two years ago and it was AWESOME! Check out my pictures from beneath a Rescue Heroes firefighter:

Dairy Queen (check!)
If it's warm enough, the DQ on Summer Street opens in February!!

Pellicci's (not yet)
Pellicci's is the very definition of a Stamford landmark. According to local legend, it was opened in 1497 by one of Columbus' cooks. Another legend says that they once tried to demolish the building, but every bulldozer they used had its bucket snapped off on contact with the building. They say that all the other Italian restaurants in Stamford were born when the chef from Pellicci's walked around town delivering samples and bits of his food fell on the ground like acorns. Every mayor since 1903 has held his or her inauguration there, and Joe Lieberman loves Pellicci's so much that he eats their prosciutto on Yom Kippur.

Honorable mention list:
Fort Stamford
Stamford Museum & Nature Center
Stamford Observatory
Seeing a play at Curtain Call

Past traditions:
Stamford Theatre Works


I haven't lived here that long, so I'm sure there are traditions I don't know about. Please add any others in the comments!

Happy New Year, everybody!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mayor Malloy on NPR

Mayor Malloy appeared on WNPR's "Where We Live" on Monday morning as part of their State of Our Cities series, where they're talking with the mayors of Connecticut's cities.

Here's the show's site:

To download the MP3 of this episode: Download.

Here are some of the things he discussed:

He expects to see further layoffs in the financial industry, which, as we all know, comprises a large portion of Stamford's business sector. Financial sector employees in CT should be spared the worst of it because the cost savings of being in CT make them less vulnerable than people in more expensive cities like New York London. RBS is still coming, with employees expected to be in the new building on April 1. GE Money will see "changes," though their operations are more centered in London, so we'll see.

He expects the next state budget to be "disastrous" for CT's cities and poorer areas, and criticizes the "lack of leadership in Hartford," specifically targeting Governor Rell's budget projections and her failure to react to this "predicted" financial situation.

CT is last in job production and growth, and 80% of CT's best students leave the state. The host asks how recent graduates can afford to live in Stamford. Mayor Malloy mentions the old "10 percent of new housing must be affordable." (I have to add my two cents here. To qualify for affordable housing, you need to be at or below 50% of the area's median income, which was $75,840 in 2007. That means that you need to earn less than $37,920 to qualify. Granted, there are people who need this assistance more than I do, but even if either my wife quit her job or I quit mine, we'd still make too much. Thankfully, we got a great deal on our current apartment, because we don't make enough to afford Stamford's inflated market rate rents, let alone buy something, even with the current real estate crisis.)

On education: We need to concentrate on math and sciences, where America trails the world, as well as close the achievement gap between blacks and Hispanics and the rest of the students.
He'd like it to be easier for people to move to CT and become teachers. He thinks that because so many of the people running CT's educational system are UConn grads, there's a lack of diversity of opinions.

On Obama's proposed new infrastructure spending: How do you prioritize infrastructure projects (needed vs. "shovel-ready")? He advocates direct allocation of federal money to cities, to cut out the state-level bureaucracy. Governor Rell wants the state to get the money, but Malloy says to take a ride on 95 or the Merritt to see how well the state is tending our infrastructure, and that most driving is on local roads, not interstates.

That said, he would also like to see state-level projects such as longer train platforms: the new train cars (340 of them) each hold ten fewer people than the ones they'll be replacing. Some underpasses are over 100 years old, so they make traffic flow difficult. We also need improvements on 95, the Merritt, and Route 1 to create freer traffic flow.

Good question from a caller: How would he close the disparity between the West Side and North Stamford? He mentions a $4 billion remake of the South End (Antares, etc, adding 4000 units of housing, 400 of which will be affordable, and the two buildings on East Main, both with 10% affordable. He says the disparity was much greater twenty years ago.

One interesting tidbit: he says he lives close to the New York border. I thought he lived in Shippan - maybe that BB drive-by incident convinced him to head for the hills.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sayonara Sabatiello's

Well, it's official: the Advocate is reporting that Sabatiello's is no more (here's the article). I wonder where they heard about its possible demise...hmm...

They did mention us in the article, referring to how Sammy "stirred gossip among local food bloggers."

Some other highlights:
- "The right person with the right concept, other than another Italian restaurant, will do very well there."

- Sammy owes someone their deposit for a Christmas party. Yeah, good luck with that.

Oddly enough, is still active as of December 10. At least somebody's getting paid by Sammy.

Friday, December 5, 2008


On my way to the Avon last night to see Chuck Norris save America in Invasion U.S.A., I walked past Sabatiello's and saw this:

The place was dark and empty at 7:30 on a Thursday night. Is it closed?

It would appear so. Is our favorite culinary punchline no more?

Maybe the Advocate can get all the details (even though I scooped them on the story!).

UPDATE: The only number I could find for Sabatiello's just gives you a busy signal. More to come...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bye-bye Fireside, hello Houlihan's

Well, it's official: Houlihan's, the original generic uber-chain, has invaded our fair city. Here's the Advocate article.

What's next, Denny's? Waffle House?? BOB EVANS????

Anyway, I don't think Capriccio is scared of losing any business to Houlihan's. Personally, I can think of a bunch of places I'd rather spend my dining dollars...I'm not hatin', I'm just sayin'.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008 the future!!

Doc Brown and Marty must be in Stamford, because I saw their car the other day:

I was expecting Biff to come outside and say "What are you lookin' at, butthead?"

Awesome...or should I say...heavy?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

BUtterfield 8

After the Bradford's horror show, I was so happy to get the well-written, professional 2008-09 Stamford Downtown directory.

Something interesting that caught my eye is
a "coming soon" listing for a BUtterfield 8 restaurant at 122 Bedford St., the old Temple Bar. From looking at their website, BUtterfield 8 seems like a pretty classy yet reasonably priced American cuisine restaurant that will compete in the same arena as Telluride, Market and g/r/a/n/d.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Getting buzzed at Bradford's

Junk mail. It's like the common cold: you can't get away from it, so you just push on through and hope for death. Or sleep. Or at least to make your spouse sick so you'll have someone to share your misery with.

OK, back to junk mail. The only reason I don't immediately burn my junk mail while it's still in the mailbox is because sometimes you get coupons, and I love coupons. I have coupons for Subway, Ocha, Athens Pizza and others. Name a Stamford restaurant and I probably have a coupon for it (or a gift certificate - trust me, check these out).

Back to junk mail again. I got a "Stamford Community Buzz" circular in the mail the other day and my initial giddiness turned to annoyance when I noticed a few problems with the front page.

It's hard to make out details in this image, so I went ahead and blew them up.

Exhibit A:

It's not the smoking angels that bother me. It's not even the period outside the quote (which is technically correct; they do it that way in England). It's the UNNECESSARY APOSTROPHE in Friend's. I cannot express how much I hate this. WHY do people feel the need to add an apostrophe to a plural noun?? On what planet does this make sense?? It's like nails on a chalkboard to me. I know college-educated people who consistently do this (along with "your welcome" - WTF??).

But it gets worse. Much worse.

Exhibit B:
Not only does every day of the week now have a *&^%ING APOSTROPHE, but on Wednesdays, with the "purchas" of any beverage, you get $ .25 cent wings. Each wing is one-quarter of one cent. What a deal! I should bring this ad into Bradford's and hold them to this price to get 400 wings for one dollar. If I'm still hungry, I'll come back on Thursday for some $1 tacos "while supplises last."

I hate you, Bradford's. Even your Friday free buffet "begining" at 5:00 won't help.

And to the publisher of this circular: I will copy-edit your ads FREE OF CHARGE. Call me. Please.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Back in the U.S.A., baby!

Well, I'm back from an awesome trip to Colombia, where the traffic makes 95 look like a rustic country lane. And the food...ah, the food...if you haven't been to Mi Terruño on East Main Street, you are missing out.

It was a fun and hectic trip, so I showed up an hour too late to watch the Veterans Day parade, but I did manage to see the 11th Regiment, Connecticut Volunteer Infantry Company A marching back up Summer Street.

Please say a little thank you or prayer for all the brave men and women who have fought and died for this country so you and I can enjoy the freedom and security that we do, and for those fighting today.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

24-hour party people

We all know what Stamford is: a nice (if kind of vanilla) place to live, work and play. If there's one thing Stamford is definitely not, it's a 24-hour town. With that in mind, I present to you, just for fun, the CTW's 24-hour businesses (not counting ATMs and vending machines).

Newfield Avenue CVS

When you get a craving for cheddar cheese Combos at 3 a.m., there's only one place to go: CVS. Mountain Dew, beef jerky, cheap plastic appliances from China. They've got them all at your local neighborhood 24-hour CVS. I wonder if the one-hour photo counter is open all night, too.

Bull's Head Diner

With the demise of the venerable Stamford Diner on Summer Street, Bull's Head might be the only 24-hour restaurant in town. Bull's Head has you covered at 3 a.m. when you want burgers, salads, pies and Greek specialties like moussaka, baklava and papadokolokodopolous.

Grove St. Dunkin' Donuts/Hope St. Donut Delight

Coke vs. Pepsi. Nike vs. Reebok. Super Nintendo vs. Genesis. Some brand rivalries destroy friendships and tear families apart. The Great Donut War of 2010 might be the most devastating one yet.

Anyway, if you need a Bavarian creme fix at 3 a.m., stop by one of these

High Ridge FedEx/Kinko's

The last time I needed to print or copy anything late at night was back in college when I had a paper due or something. Since then, I haven't had to make copies at 3 a.m., but it's good to know that I can. You can print, collate, bind, enlarge, reduce and do all the other fun paper things you want at any hour of the day or night thanks to our 24-hour Fedex/Kinko's. If they offered late-night origami, I'd be there.

Stamford Florist

OK, it's technically a vending machine, but I think this thing is simultaneously hilarious and awesome. When your wife/girlfriend/mistress kicks you out at 3 a.m. (probably because she found out about the other two women) and you need to make nice-nice, your only salvation is Stamford Florist's 24-hour flower machine.

So to recap: If you live in Stamford and need a dozen roses, a Hallmark card, a cruller, color copies and a feta burger at 3 a.m., you're in luck (and quite possibly pregnant). Anything else, tough cookies.

Monday, October 27, 2008

R.I.P. Video Hut

Well, the last mom-and-pop video store in Stamford is no more.

North Stamford Video on Long Ridge Road and Videoplex on Bedford Street have been gone for years, but Video Hut held on. Maybe it was their corner location. Maybe it was because their "behind-the-curtain" selection was pretty good ( I'm told).

Blockbuster bludgeoned these stores, but Netflix was the final nail in the coffin. In a twist of fate, Blockbuster is now on the receiving end of Netflix's sword and may close a bunch of stores.

The worst part (besides the employees losing their jobs and the owners going out of business) is that I had no idea it was closing, so I missed out on buying their used videos for pennies :( When Blockbuster killed the local store in my hometown, I got a bunch of horror movies for $2 each. Score!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It's chili out there!

Or rather it's The Best Chili in Stamford contest, being held this Saturday!!!

The cookoff will benefit the Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County. The Police Department, local restaurants and amateur chefs will compete from 12-3 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Society, 20 Forest St. (across from the Avon).

The judges are you! That's right, whether you're Joe Six-Pack, Joe the Plumber or Joe Mama, you can choose the tastiest, beefiest, spiciest, bestest chili in town! I'll be there sampling them all!!

Check out the Advocate article about the event: Chili of champions.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Yay, another future stalled construction project!

From the Projects That May or May Not Be Built and/or Completed file comes Metro Tower, an office building planned for construction next to the train station. It's part of the Metro Green mixed-use, transit-oriented complex, and it was just approved by the Zoning Board:

I wonder which will finish first (if ever), this building or the new parking garage for the train station.

You can see it better if you click on the image for a larger one, but this rendering is amazingly detailed (aside from the old Thomson sign). The power box on the lower left is actually painted, just like the ones all over Stamford!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Stamford vs. New Haven

My wife and I recently spent the day in New Haven, and since we had previously only gone to Ikea, it was my first time walking around the city and taking it all in. Based on my admittedly brief and superficial impressions, here's my head-to-head comparison of the City That Works and the City That, um, Yales?


Stamford has a nice variety of dining options, including Thai, Middle Eastern and Indian, and ranging from crummy diners (I'm looking at you, Curley's) to the amazing Napa and Telluride.

New Haven has a bunch of famous restaurants, including
The Union League Café, consistently voted the best restaurant in Connecticut; Ibiza, run by famous chef Luis Bollo; Louis' Lunch, which claims to have invented the hamburger; and Pepe's Pizza, which often has a 90-minute wait for its pizza.

However, Zagat's has reviewed more restaurants in Stamford than in any other CT city - check it out.

Advantage: Push (New Haven has fame, but Stamford has quantity).

Professional sports teams (past and present)

Thanks to Pitney Bowes (see my post on Mr. Stamford for details), we have zero professional sports teams in Stamford.

New Haven has had three baseball teams: the Elm Citys (1875), the Ravens (1994-2003) and the West Haven Yankees (no years available); three hockey teams: the Eagles/Ramblers (1926-51), the Nighthawks/Senators (1972-93) and the Beast (1997-99); and even an af2 (Arena Football League's minor league) team, the Ninjas (2002).

The closest Stamford has come to pro sports is when the Bridgeport Sound Tigers played a preseason game at Terry Conners Rink. Sad.

Advantage: Duh, New Haven.

Professional tennis tournaments

New Haven: 1.
Stamford: 0.

Advantage: New Haven.

Maria has never been to Stamford (her loss, right?).

Higher education

New Haven: Yale, Southern CT State, UNH.

Stamford: UConn Stamford, University of Bridgeport satellite campus, Sacred Heart University satellite campus.

Advantage: New Haven, plus a bonus point for Skull and Bones. Stamford's only secret society is the Illuminati that, according to the nutjobs, run this town and refuse to build anything on the Hole in the Ground.

College football

Yeah, it's only the Ivy League, but it's still college football, and the annual Harvard-Yale game is a huge nerd rivalry (losers get wedgies). Fun fact: The Yale Bowl is the second-largest football stadium in New England behind Gillette Stadium.

Advantage: New Haven. Wow, this is getting bad.


OK, we've got to win this one. Stamford has been ranked the safest city in America, for crying out loud! New Haven is one of the poorest cities in Connecticut. Walking around downtown, you can see the disparity between the Yale/shopping/upscale dining crowd and the working poor waiting for the city bus.

Advantage: Stamford.


Stamford is fine if you want a nice pair of khakis or an overpriced Abercrombie & Fitch t-shirt, but New Haven has a few streets lined with different, non-chain stores. One store we saw sells beautiful handicrafts from poor countries around the world and provides a fair wage to the people who create them. You won't find that in the stupid Stamford Town Center. See also: My post about Blandford.

Advantage: New Haven.


Stamford has been the backdrop for a lot of movies over the years, including a big batch just last summer. Here's a list off the top of my head: Scenes from a Mall, Reservation Road, Revolutionary Road, College Road Trip (Why all the road movies?), In Bloom, What Just Happened?, Righteous Kill, and the 8-time Oscar winner The Horror of Party Beach. Stamford Talk has a bunch of posts about the movies filming in CT.

New Haven has...the latest Indiana Jones movie, which I've heard was a stinker.

Advantage: Stamford.

Rock n' roll

Toad's Place. Doors song. 'Nuff said.

Advantage: New Haven.

And the final tally of my far-from-complete comparison (drum roll, please):

New Haven: 6

Stamford: 2

Ouch. Can somebody remind me again why we all love Stamford so much?

OK, that helps.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Happy Oktober!

It's October now, time for the baseball playoffs and the NFL season (Bills are 4-0! Woo!). It's also time for wearing lederhosen, drinking beer out of steins and gorging on sausages and other artery-clogging German food!! Oktoberfest, yaaaah!!

Only problem is, I can't find any Oktoberfest celebrations in the FC. Does anybody know of one around here?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Stupid Greenwich, too

From a New York Times Op-ed piece: So where does this leave the Masters of the Universe? In Greenwich, Conn., mainly. The hottest, brightest, most ambitious young men began abandoning investment banking in favor of hedge funds six years ago. [...] Greenwich is the center of the Masters’ hedge-fund world, replacing Wall Street. For five years, the heart of Wall Street, the fabled Floor of the New York Stock Exchange, has been gradually emptying out.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Stupid Wall Street meltdown

Now it's official: the mess on Wall Street will have repercussions fifty miles to the northeast. An article in BusinessWeek lists the towns that could be hit the hardest by the financial crisis, and guess who's at the top of this unfortunate list? Nope, not Greenwich, but close. It's Stamford's other ridiculously rich neighbor. No, not New Canaan either. One more guess. That's right: Darien!

I've heard that things might get so bad that the Darien police will have to buy a nightstick. Seriously, things are so bad in Darien that Coromandel laid off its low-wage Indian workers and hired former Bear Sterns employees for less. It's so tough that some kids have had to settle for the base model Escalade. A few families are taking drastic steps to cut back on expenses, like going to Aspen for three weeks instead of five. Oh, the tragedy!

Thank you! I'll be here all week. Try the veal.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Fairfield Weekly does Stamford (sort of)

The latest issue of the venerable Fairfield County Weekly has something called the Annual Manual, a listing of cool things to do, see, buy and eat in each town and city in the FC.

Overlooking the spelling and typographical errors, their entry on Stamford is decent. I especially like how they express a thought along the lines of my Blandford post: "Stamford can seem like some cyber-punk dystopia where corporations provide everything and have stamped their logo onto every street." (Yet they say there's a Jamba Juice in every strip mall. Do we have even one of them? Do they mean Robek's?) They then talk about some of the unique things around town like the Avon and Curtain Call.

Their main praise comes for Stamford's dining scene, though it's slightly outdated: they recommend the sandwiches at Ocean 211. They also neglected to mention Napa & Co.! How do you include Brastitas [sic] yet ignore the amazing food at Napa?? And if you ask me, Layla's owns Myrna's eight days a week.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Yo Adrian!!

Extry! Extry! Pugilists converge on Stam-ford for a sporting competition! THRILL as practicioners of the sweet science tussle in the City that Works!

Perhaps Joe "I Hate Dan Malloy" Tarzia will challenge his arch-rival Dan "Mayor Malloy" Malloy to a bout and give him what-for!

On September the 27th at 6:30 in the evening, after supping on Van Camp's Pork and Beans, get in your auto-mobile and traverse the scant distance to Revolution Fitness on Canal Street to see Fall Fisticuffs.

And just because I love it, the fight from Rocky IV:

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Fort UConn-deroga

Nothing huge, but in the latest development in the UConn Stamford-Trump Parc standoff, UConn has erected protective scaffolding over the sidewalks along Broad Street and Washington Boulevard.

In barely related news, I thought this was funny:

Well, besides Antares' shady dealings, what else is new in town? Cuz I got nothin'.

Monday, August 25, 2008


Yesterday, the wife and I went to one of my favorite places on the planet: Coney Island.

After gorging on crab strips, buttered corn and hot dogs, I got to thinking about why CI is so damn cool. I like how it's safe enough to hang out, but still dirty and seedy enough to be fun, yet it still retains a hint of its old-time charm (especially with the Cyclone). It's got a beautiful Atlantic Ocean beach, a sideshow, great food, rides new and old, and my personal favorite game: Skee-Ball!

I think the biggest thing that makes CI so cool is simply how different it is. You just have to check out the Mermaid Parade for proof of that. They even sell buttons proclaiming it "Sodom by the Sea." Now all of this got me thinking, of course, about our beloved Stamford.

I'm not going to reopen the "Stamford has no character" argument. However, I will say that although there are a lot of neat things to do here (cricket comes to mind), a lot of things in Stamford are just so darn generic.

Our "waterfront" dining, Crab Shell and Paradise Grill, serve pretty standard fare and are full of gel-haired meatheads. We have 1001 Italian restaurants serving penne a la vodka. Our local Irish pub is a chain! I think Fairfield County in general is the polo shirt capital of the world, and does it get any more generic than a polo shirt? Why is this town so uptight?

Part of the problem is that there's no "alternative" scene here. I think it would be cool to have a neighborhood like Philadelphia's South Street or SoHo in NYC (although even SoHo is getting rapidly generic-ified). I don't necessarily mean S&M orgies (though I'm not judging), but how cool would it be to have a roller rink in town that hosted roller derby matches?? Even New Haven has Toad's Place, a well-known rock/punk/etc. venue. We have...cover bands at the former Jimmy's Seaside.

Also, I'm not a member of the gay demographic, but as far as I know, there's little to no gay/lesbian scene here, and we all know that gays = fun (for everyone). See again: South Street and SoHo/Greenwich Village.

Unfortunately, part of what allows places like those come to be are seediness and low rent, and while we've got some of the former, the latter is an extinct species in these parts. I'd love to see some pioneers carve out a little "district" somewhere in the CTW, but with the South End catching Antares fever and the East Side getting the Glenview Commons cold, there isn't much "cheap" real estate left in town.

Well, at least Bennigan's is gone. Wait...what's that opening underneath Target? A Houlihan's?? NOOOOOOOO!!!!!

I should add that the Avon Theater's Cult Classics series is awesome, not to mention surprisingly well-attended!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

My posts from Mr. Stamford's site

March 8, 2008: Puttin' up the Ritz - wherein JR talks about the start of demolition for the Ritz-Carlton project on Tresser Blvd.

March 27, 2008: Boycott Pitney Bowes! - wherein JR reveals why Stamford has no professional sports teams.

May 14, 2008: R.I.P. Stamford Whole Foods/The South (End) shall rise again! - wherein JR laments our doomed Whole Foods and displays some demolition pictures from the Harbor Point site.

May 23, 2008: The most exclusive neighborhood in Stamford - wherein JR drives through Wallachs Point, a very rich, very private neighborhood, and expects to be accosted by security.

June 26, 2008: More cherry tree nonsense - wherein JR makes fun of the idiots on the Advocate website who complain about the city's plans for Mill River Park.

July 20, 2008: Downtown Stamford is dead - JR's most-commented-upon post, wherein he lists the abandoned and empty lots in downtown Stamford.

July 29, 2008: The City that Hates - wherein JR delves into the horrible world of Topix, the Advocate website's message board.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Are you kidding me, Glenview House?

Glenview House is one of the new "mixed-use" developments currently going up on the East Side at the corner of East Main Street and Glenbrook Road.

The original website for the development had no information on what rents would be for the various apartments, so out of curiosity, I emailed the general info address. Three weeks later I got a response. Here are some highlights:

"At Glenview House, we showcase brand new, modern one, two and three bedroom apartment homes with and without lofts. Our extremely spacious apartments are detailed with 9ft ceilings, in-apartment storage spaces, crown molding, walk-in closets and patios or balconies. Add in granite countertop, kitchen center island with modern appliances and hardwood floors, full size washer and dryers, central heat and A/C to ensure you are getting an apartment you are delighted to call home. You will also have use of our three tier garden courtyard including a seasonal resort style heated swimming pool with sun deck, billiards room, plus a 24 hr state of the art fitness center!

Sounds great, right? Now here's the kicker (emphasis added):
"Our 1 Bedroom apartments range in size from 824 sq. ft. to 1346 sq. ft and start at $2250, 2 bedroom/2 bath range in size from 1174 sq. ft. to 1591 sq. ft. and start at $2800. Finally our 3 bedroom/2 Bath range in square footage from 1364 to 1838 and start at $3350. Pricing differs based upon floor level, private patios, loft apartments and views.

$2250 for 824 square feet??? That's a lot of money for views of an Auto Zone, a Taco Bell and Bev Max! I love the Colombian food at Mi Terruño, but this area is not exactly "luxurious." And I don't mean any offense to our friends on the East Side, but who in that area can afford to pay $2800 for a two-bedroom apartment??

I support improving neighborhoods, but this project and its counterpart, East Side Commons, seem to embody the worst aspects of gentrification. That is, of course, if anybody is actually willing to pay that much to live in an area that still needs work.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Welcome to the "Streets of Stamford"

Welcome all my friends! After entering the blogging world over on Mr. Stamford's site (mad props to Mr. S!), I've started my very own blog where I plan to discuss, complain, and talk about the goings-on in our fair city.

I'm still working on customizing the site, so bear with me. I'll also post links to my previous posts from Mr. Stamford so you can read them again.

Feel free to contact me with any questions, and don't forget to comment away on my posts!

JR scoops the Advocate!

There's an article on the Advocate website about the slowdown in construction that has left several downtown projects unfinished, including City Place. Sound familiar?? I wrote a post about this exact subject over at Mr. Stamford.

Some interesting tidbits from the article:
The Urban Redevelopment Commission has been mired in legal battles with Curley's diner, which it planned to seize. The developer was forced to redesign around the diner when the state Supreme Court ruled the city could not seize it in 2002.

Why did the city go through the Kafkaesque
seizure process, which ultimately failed anyway? Why didn't the developer just offer the owners of Curley's a million bucks for their land?

37 of the apartments will be rented at rates affordable to those who earn 50 percent or less of Stamford's median income, or $58,900 for a family of four. That translates to rents of about $1,636 per month.

WOW - only $1636 a month? What a steal! I'm joking of course. My wife and I make just under $100K a year and we would be hard-pressed to afford that rent!

Now if you do the math, $1636 x 12 months = $19632, or about a THIRD of the income for a family making $58,900 - and that's the TOP income limit to qualify. How are people making so little going to be able to afford that rent and still put food on the table, clothes on their kids' backs, etc.?

On a side rant, I don't believe that people should get endless handouts or endless government help, but there has to be a better solution to help the working poor to provide for their families and improve their lives and the lives of their children. It also pisses me off when these developers make a "swap" (like Antares wants to do) so that the affordable units don't have to sully their pretty little rich bubble.

Anyway, why does it seem like everybody is only building "luxury" these days? Whatever happened to building a nice average apartment building?

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.)