Stamford City Focus: Moving Forward
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The centerpiece of the city’s growth over the next 10 years will be an ambitious redevelopment of an 80-acre portion of Stamford’s South End known as Harbor Point. The project will include the development of 6 million square feet of commercial, residential and hotel property. A short walk from the train station, it will add 4,000 residences (some residents are already moving in), hotels and office buildings, 11 acres of waterfront parks and a full-service marina of almost 500 slips. The New York City-based Fairway supermarket chain plans to open a store here later this summer.
“Smart growth principles dictate that you need to build around your core, build around mass transit, utilize access to water, and Stamford is becoming a model for that,’’ says McGee. “Harbor Point is already one of the pre-eminent ‘smart-growth’ projects in the country.”
The project includes restoring a number of abandoned lots in Stamford’s industrial community, including several former brownfields. In doing so, the city is working with the private developer, Norwalk-based Building and Land Technology, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Another development aimed at increasing parklands and providing recreational alternatives to local residents is the city’s Mill River waterfront project. On the edge of the downtown, the project will feature a rehabilitated and expanded 26-acre park, and several walking and bicycle trails along the riverfront.
Stamford’s first corporate wave arrived over a generation ago, with GTE in 1971. It was followed by General Reinsurance (1974), Champion International (1975) and The Singer Co. (1979). But those developments accounted only for commercial space downtown; new workers tended to be absorbed into existing Stamford neighborhoods.
The new wave of corporations, such as UBS (then known as Swiss Bank) in 1997 and the Royal Bank of Scotland last year, has brought a younger employee, one for whom the city’s downtown is not just a social center but a viable place to live.
“The river [Mill River] literally had shopping carts and old tires in it and this represented a natural opportunity to add to the quality of life for everyone and bring the change necessary for a changing demographic,” says McGee. “This kind of space is almost an expectation for a new, younger generation.”