Downtown Update
Newsletter of the Connecticut Main Street Center 

Celebrating 20 Years of inspiring great Connecticut downtowns,  
Main Street by Main Street.
Fall brings bounty of workshops

This fall brings a multitude of learning and training on a variety of issues ranging from Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to economic development to planning. Here are just a few of the events in store:
Assessor's Symposium - The CT Association of Assessing Officers (CAOO) will hold their 21st Annual Fall Symposium on September 22. There will be two panel discussions, including one where CMSC will be part of a group giving an overview of how TIF districts work and discussing the process a municipality must go through to adopt tax increment financing.  
SNEAPA - The SNEAPA conference is an annual 2-day event hosted by the Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts APA chapters that draws over 500 planners, landscape architects, architects, engineers, academics, students and others. CMSC will be participating in three sessions during the Southern New England American Planning Association (SNEAPA) Planning Conference, taking place in Hartford on September 24-25. CMSC board member David Sousa from CDM Smith will moderate Form Follows Fun: How planners can enable vibrant communities that people love on Thursday, September 24. CMSC's President & CEO John Simone will be part of a panel, Development and the Art of Tax Increment Financing, on Friday, September 25. John will also be participating on a panel on September 24 regarding using the charrette process as a tool to forge strategies and partnerships to revitalize Terry Square in Hartford. 
CCM Annual Convention - The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM), the statewide association of towns and cities, is holding their 33rd Annual Convention on October 20, 2015 at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, Connecticut. Municipal officials from the smallest Connecticut communities to the largest cities will be in attendance. There will be a multitude of workshops during the day-long event, including one in the afternoon called, Investing in Our Future Today: Creating Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Districts in which CMSC will participate as a presenter.   

Check the CMSC website for information on these and other upcoming events.
YES Tapped for Transportation Event
Christine Schilke, CMSC's Communications Manager and co-chair of Young Energetic Solutions (YES), was part of a recent panel discussing transit in New Haven. Around fifty people attended the Transportation on Tap event hosted by CTRides and GoNewHavenGo, an initiative to get people out of their cars and using active transportation in New Haven. Representing YES, Christine discussed the impact of transit on young people in Connecticut, noting that when they are able to live within a half-mile of transit, their transportation costs are reduced from 19% to 9% of their household budget.

Other panelists included Ed Perzanowski from CTRides, Karen Burnaska with CT Fund for the Environment, Lisa Rivers and Randal Davis from CT DOT, and Garrett Eucalitto from the Office of Policy and Management (OPM). Doug Hausladen, Director of Transportation, Traffic & Parking with the City of New Haven served as moderator. The event, held at BAR, was modeled on the popular Astronomy on Tap events where people learn about a new topic in a relaxed setting over pizza and beer. 
Spotlight on 2015 Awards of Excellence
Main Street Partnership - Simsbury High AP Economics Course: Engaging Students in Real World Economic Development at Home 

Recipients: Simsbury Main Street Partnership, Simsbury High School 
The goal: To enable students to solve real world economic development problems in their own community by developing conceptual plans for local projects under development.
O pportunities
Simsbury AP Economics students learn from industry experts before applying their new knowledge to a real-life situation.
& Challenges:
  • Over the past 10 years, Simsbury Main Street Partnership has established a strong partnership with Simsbury's public schools. The award-winning Culinary Arts Training program matched high school students with the local banquet facility, where students took classes for credit on site while engaged in real-life work experience. More recently, Main Street partnered with the Superintendent of Schools and the Board of Education to create a marketing brochure for local realtors which promotes Simsbury's outstanding public schools, in order to attract young families to the community.
  • Given that the course itself is an Advanced Placement (AP) course in both micro and macroeconomics, most of the school year is spent learning the concepts and models of economics so that students can understand why markets work the way they do.
  • The primary focus of this unit is to educate students about various issues that are part of the development process, by providing a bridge between town government and policy, so that students better understand the roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder. This information also allows students to experience a myriad of disciplines from urban planning, architecture, finance, real estate development, and community development within a working framework.
  • The selected 2014 site is owned by Ensign Bickford, a major employer in town. The company is planning on developing the site in the next five years, and was thrilled to have student input on visions for the future. Previous sites included the sprawling suburban corporate campus of The Hartford.
  • Under the leadership of teacher Robert Jeffers and Simsbury Main Street President Rich Correia, the AP Economics unit is co-facilitated, using a real-life project, to engage students in critical thinking as they craft their plan for a particular parcel of land.
  • Students are given an orientation to the Main Street program, so they understand the complexity of economic and community development issues, how to create places that people want to come to, and how to attract high-quality development consistent with the Town's Plan of Conservation and Development. Architects and planners address the need for good planning principles married to good design. Bankers and Real Estate developers give tips and information on financing construction as well as market principles, so students can identify solutions that are viable in today's marketplace.
  • Students are then divided into small groups to formulate their concepts for the selected development parcel. They are provided maps that show how and where their designs are situated, and interact with the surrounding neighborhood.
Major Accomplishments:
  • The 2014 AP Economics class proposed myriad development concepts, including a brewery with tours and a retail component, an independent movie theater with a restaurant component, and a residential development that ties in to the bike trail, which runs very close to the property.
  • Students present their final plans to an audience that includes the property owner, the first selectman, leaders of the Simsbury Main Street Partnership, and expert guest speakers from earlier in the course.
  • This unique course bridges a gap between town government, the public schools, and the development community. Students have a much better understanding of the roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder in the development process, while also exploring various disciplines within a working framework.
  • This impressive course is creating a generation of engaged citizens by helping students understand land use planning and economic development on a personal level.
Congratulations to the Simsbury team!
Pictures from the 2015 Awards Gala have been posted to our Facebook page. Learn more about the winning initiatives and individuals here. 
Re-Mains of the Day 
Preservation of Place Grants - It's that time of year again! CMSC members in good standing will soon be able to apply for the 2016 Preservation of Place (POP) funding round. This program is administered by CMSC and funded through the Connecticut  State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) using resources from the Community Investment Act (CIA). POP funds provide CMSC's member communities with targeted resources to increase their capacity to plan for the preservation and revitalization of their historic downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts. While pre-applications will be due in late October, members can expect to receive additional information on this year's funding round by the end of September.
The Retail Mix on Main Street - As the economy slowly picks back up, there is a lot of attention being paid to facilitating a healthy balance between restaurant and retail on Main Street. We found the following publications insightful and full of information on what communities can do to ensure they are ready for retail:
Guide to Improving Tenant Mix
by Larisa Ortiz, Commercial District Advisors.
Are you "Retail Ready"? The Underpinnings of Successful Commercial Districts (pg. 16) This guide is aimed at providing commercial district practitioners and the public and nonprofit sector agencies that support their efforts with practical tips and tools they can use immediately to inform their retail attraction efforts .
Retail Property Insights: Special Urban Retail Issue , a publication of the International Council of Shopping Centers. Includes "Building a Better Foundation for Urban Retail's Future" by Robert Gibbs (pg. 14), and "Avoiding Missteps in Downtown Retail Development" by Rick Ferrell (pg. 59).
President's Message - Learning & Collaborating

Between looking at a calendar full of conferences and our own popular TIF workshop last week, I'm reminded just how much there still is to learn about the world of downtown revitalization: new and emerging financing mechanisms, best practices for creating and implementing transit oriented development, along with a slew of insights and tips for creating fun, authentic places, attracting millennials and new economic development in a world of shifting technology and demographics, just to name a few. All of this and more will be discussed during the many upcoming workshops, seminars, symposiums and conferences offered this fall.
Looking around at how much there is to know and do, I confess I'm glad we don't have to go it alone. While leaders in the downtown management and revitalization sphere, there are so many connecting and intersecting facets to a productive downtown that it's wonderful to know there are other voices we can learn from and work with. No one of us can possibly have all of the answers, but contributing what we do best and combining it with what others do best creates an outcome greater than the sum of its parts. Indeed, it is the only way to truly achieve the kinds of vibrant, dynamic downtowns and Main Streets we all know and love. Just as no man is an island, no community exists in isolation. Through constant learning and collaboration, we're able to evolve our communities, shaping and reshaping them to meet today's needs and tomorrow's desired neighborhoods.

Connecticut Main Street Center

c/o Eversource

PO Box 270 

Hartford, CT 06141



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September 2015
Vol. 15/Issue 9

Upcoming Events
CAAO 21st Annual Fall Symposium
September 22
Enfield Economic Development Summit
South Windsor
September 23
Register & More Info

SNEAPA Conference
September 24-25
Register & More Info 
CMSC Networking Event
September 29

2015 POP Final Reports Due to CMSC 
September 30
CMSC Closed for Columbus Day
October 21
CCM Annual Convention  
October 20