Stamford holds a strong position in the region’s economy. Just 47 minutes from Grand Central Terminal on Metro-North’s New Haven Line, the city is an attractive and affordable urban center for people and companies looking for a dynamic, smaller-scale city within easy reach of Manhattan. Over the last 15 years, Stamford has been a national model for mixed-use and mixed-income districts. The city’s 2002 Master Plan laid the foundation for nearly $6 billion in new development within a half-mile of the Stamford Transportation Center, the busiest train station on the New Haven line. This has been a key element of the “Work, Live, Play, Learn” environment created in Stamford’s downtown and South End.
Over the past decade, Stamford has expanded its growth strategy to attract a wider variety of businesses such as technology companies, smaller entrepreneurs, and maker industries. To do this, the city has focused on the built environment, adding new housing in the South End and downtown, and enhancing pedestrian and transit connections within and between these areas. Since 2010, more than 2,500 new apartments and 450,000 square feet of commercial space have been built in the South End, with an additional 1,580 apartments downtown. Plus, the University of Connecticut recently opened a dormitory for 300 students on its downtown campus.
Several recommendations in the Fourth Regional Plan would benefit Stamford, including significant infrastructure upgrades to the New Haven line, and proposals to provide better transit service. The Stamford Transportation Center needs to be renovated and reimagined as a gateway to the city, welcoming people and connecting downtown to the South End, both visually and functionally. Streets should be redesigned to emphasize walking, biking, and bus use. As shared, on-demand, and ultimately, driverless vehicles become more common, and as more people walk and bike, Stamford should repurpose parking spaces (on- and off-street) for new development and green infrastructure. Stamford also needs to continue building affordable housing as prosperity drives increases in property values. With an extremely low retail vacancy rate, Stamford should prioritize maintaining affordable ground-floor retail space in downtown and the South End.