To delight of urban gourmands, Elm City Market opens at last



NEW HAVEN — The long-awaited Elm City Market finally opened its doors at 360 State Street on November 5. The store anchors the street level of 360 State Street, the city’s newest and largest residential development. At 32 stories the second-tallest structure on the city skyline, 360 State houses 500 apartments, enclosed parking and more than 30,000 square feet of commercial space. Among retail tenants it is also the home of the Devil’s Gear Bike Shop, recently selected by Bicycling Magazine as one of the top 100 bicycle shops in America.

Developer Bruce Backer says that the apartments are renting ahead of schedule and are about “Eighty-percent occupied. We’re adding a percent or two each month.”

The gleaming new market has 14,000 square feet of selling space and 10,000 feet of backroom operations. The selling floor includes a bakery and deli and looks far different from most supermarkets with distinctive black and silver décor.

A wide variety of distinctive food items and locally produced and sourced food products such as Chabaso and Whole G breads are available.

Becker originally sought a small supermarket tenant for the space, but when that failed to materialize he helped to organize a “co-op” ownership. Some 800 owner/members who paid $200 each for an “equity payment” proudly sported identity pins on the opening day. Membership entitles them to special discounts and to what is hoped to be an annual “cash back” payment

Noted Becker who organized the effort and arranged the $7 million in financing to build and open the market, “A similar coop in Burlington, Vt. paid a five-percent dividend back to members last year.”

Webster Bank provided $4 million of the financing, and the 360 State Street pension fund owners put up the rest. The store is expected to employ approximately 90 workers. The construction contractor was Chapel Construction.

The union pension fund owners of 360 State recently filed a lawsuit against the city of New Haven over its $5 million annual property-tax assessment. Estimates by the city’s Department of Economic Development had been for approximately $1.8 million when the project was submitted to the Board of Aldermen for approval.

Mayor John DeStefano Jr., who did not attend the market’s opening, has criticized Becker and the market’s all-volunteer board for not providing for union representation of the workers at the market.