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    Growing New Haven's Economy | New Haven News

    New Haven, Conn: City with a new college try

    (1/10/2011) (from Northjersey.com)


    The Record

    While exploring the possibility of attending Yale University "almost too many years ago to remember," Erica Conway paid a visit to New Haven, Conn., which she says was "a pretty tired place that had obviously seen better days."

    New Haven, Conn., boasts a variety of classic housing. An example of its Victorian offerings is this Queen Anne style home for $769,000.

    New Haven, Conn., boasts a variety of classic housing. An example of its Victorian offerings is this Queen Anne style home for $769,000.

    Indeed, for much of the last few decades, the main reasons to travel to the then-decaying 17th-century New England seaport were to see someone or something tied to the educational institution — the city had little more to offer than the venerable schoolitself.

    Conway never realized her hopes of attending Yale, but her trip was the start of an ongoing fascination that would bring her to New Haven on and off for years, allowing the Hackensack resident to witness the city's transformation from a gritty college town to a thriving metropolis. "It's hard to pinpoint exactly why I was drawn here. I think it was the collegiate energy that kept me coming back," she said.

    Now, after fruitful renewal efforts and with the decades of blight and neglect well behind it, Connecticut's second-largest metropolis has a spruced up facade, a diversified economy and a new self-confidence. Today, shops, restaurants, bars, clubs, museums, theaters and galleries contribute to a rich urban landscape; along with it, an artsy and intellectual bohemianism has breathed new life into the city.

    "So much has changed for the better here, from people's outlook to all of the amenities in the area," said Conway.

    "Of course, the university is still a huge draw, but there's so much more to New Haven these days. It has become an all-around great place to live with the caliber of culture and art one would expect to find in a town that boasts a top Ivy League college."

    In 2009, Conway paid $350,000 for her second home, a "two-bedroom apartment" (actually the upper floor of a spacious two-story late-19th-century house) in the leafy, historic East Rock neighborhood, within walking distance of downtown and the Yale campus.

    East Rock and other neighborhoods near the city center largely attract university faculty, staff and students, as well as upwardly mobile young professionals, suburban transplants and socially active empty-nesters who, like Conway, are drawn by their proximity to the backbone of the city's ever-growing lifestyle offerings.

    In the past 10 years, the revitalization has not only invigorated the city and brought an influx of new residents, but it has also been a source of civic pride among New Havenites.

    The city's rebirth is most evident in and around downtown, from the restored blocks fanning out from the 16-acre New Haven Green, where luxury lofts, ethnic eateries and myriad boutiques have sprouted, to 360 State St. (360statestreet.com), a stylish upscale tower of green, energy-efficient apartments — from studios to penthouses.

    With its evolution moving ahead, New Haven is emerging from the recession hopeful of making its long-stagnant plans to bring College Square, a mixed-used retail and condo high-rise, to downtown.

    It also is optimistic about developing its Downtown Crossing project, which would link the city's heart with the Union Station and the medical district, creating a lively residential and commercial transportation corridor.

    "There's no doubt about it. The city is becoming more and more attractive as time passes and definitely has a lot of second-home appeal," Conway said.

    "Whether it's digging into a thin-crust pizza at Pepe's (pepespizzeria.com), hitting the shops on Chapel Street or Broadway (newhavenshops.com) or checking out the latest exhibits at Yale University Art Gallery (artgallery.yale.edu), New Haven has a little something to please everyone."

    If you go


    A youthful, energetic city undergoing a renaissance with ample dining, shopping and cultural cachet. Yale Repertory Theatre (yalerep.org), Yale Center for British Art (ycba.yale.edu), Long Wharf Theater (longwharf.org), the annual New Haven Jazz Festival (jazzhaven.org) and outdoor pursuits beyond the city limits.

    The drawbacks

    Some areas of town are still quite gritty and crime-plagued.

    The weather

    Winters are long and cold. Spring is beautiful. Summers are warm and generally mild. Fall is colorful.

    The costs

    New Haven has an average listing price of about $200,000, with a median sales price of only $105,000, a 25 percent drop since this time last year. Historic houses in the most-sought neighborhoods generally start between $300,000 and $500,000 and rise into the millions (for large estates). Property taxes are $42.21 per $1,000 of net assessed value.

    Getting there

    Cross the George Washington Bridge and continue on I-95 north. Take left Exit 47/Downtown/New Haven onto CT-34 west, then take Exit 1 into downtown New Haven. The drive, which takes about 90 minutes, can be considerably longer on weekends.

    Where to stay

    The Study at Yale ($189 and up; 203-503-3900; studyhotels.com) is a sophisticated boutique hotel with comfortable contemporary-style rooms and suites across the street from Yale School of Art and Architecture.

    Must see

    The Great Hall of Dinosaurs' skeletons and paleontology collections at the Peabody Museum of Natural History (peabody.yale.edu).

    For more information

    INFONewHaven (infonewhaven.com) provides local information; the New Haven Register (nhregister.com) is the city's daily newspaper.

    Follow this link for more information.

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