Mixed-use is coming to West Hartford. Barnes & Noble, Crate & Barrel and Whole Foods Market are among the tenants that will be at Blue Back Square, a $180 million joint venture development between White Plains, N.Y.-based Street-Works, LLC, West Hartford-based JDA Development and Atlanta, Ga.-based Ronus Properties, LLC.
Blue Back Square will add 220,000 square feet of retail space in addition to 200,000 square feet of office and medical space and 62 luxury condos and 48 apartment lofts when it opens in November. The property will bring a host of new tenants to the market for the first time, including Connecticut's first Crate & Barrel, which will occupy 36,000 square feet at the center. “Our project will bring some exciting new retail anchors to the town, while previously it was mostly smaller stores,” says Robert Wienner, managing partner of Blue Back Square. In addition, it will bring larger retailers into the market for the first time. Wienner says that until now, most stores in West Hartford contain less than 5,000 square feet. REI, Criterion Cinemas and the Cheesecake Factory are also among the center's retail tenants that will inhabit large blocks of space.
Located at the intersection of South Main Street, Memorial Road and Raymond Road, Blue Back Square was conceived as an extension of the West Hartford Center, a pedestrian shopping district that already includes 140 stores and restaurants. Ronus Properties estimates that approximately 600,000 people live within a 10-mile radius of Blue Back Square, with average household incomes of $115,000 a year.
“You have a nice combination of demographics and income here,” says Michael Stone, a broker with Cushman & Wakefield.
Like a lot of projects in the Northeast, Blue Back Square is moving ahead after clearing some legal hurdles. Taubman Centers, which itself has faced challenges from other developers in its attempt to build a mall in the community of Oyster Bay on New York's Long Island (see story on p. 14), challenged the project along with some local residents. In April, the state superior court ruled in favor of Blue Back's developers, clearing the way for the project to proceed. Taubman, for its part, owns Westfarms Mall in nearby Farmington, Conn.