Stamford, Conn., isn’t just a bedroom community or summer-home place for New York City, a mere 45 minutes to the southwest. It comes by its nickname, the City That Works, honestly. The fourth-largest city in Connecticut is a thriving outpost for entertainment companies such as NBC Sports, World Wrestling Entertainment, and the A&E Television Networks, which seek refuge from Manhattan’s sky-high rents. And Stamford has its share of corporate headquarters, too—most notably, the Royal Bank of Scotland, which located its North American operations there earlier this year.
The strength of the commercial sector is driving a demand for workforce housing. “Stamford’s a major employment center, and many people who are now commuting to work here would rather walk, bike, or bus to work,” says Kip Bergstrom, executive director of the city’s Urban Redevelopment Commission. “There are so many people who ‘drive till you qualify,’ who live all the way out in Bridgeport and further east. They’d rather live in town, but they can’t afford to.”
The housing demand is a big factor in a downtown construction boom that is continuing despite the sour economy. “There are limited development opportunities in surrounding no-growth towns,” says Michael Freimuth, director of Stamford’s Office of Economic Development. “That’s why growth is projected—both in population and in the number of units and residences—in the downtown core.”
Current population: about 120,000. Job growth is flat.
Office vacancy: 24%–26%; average asking rate: $40/s.f.
Median home sale price: around $600,000, down more than 7% in the past year.
- Proximity to New York City and Boston
- Vibrant entertainment industry presence
- Downtown revitalization under way
- Transportation integration
- Little affordable housing inventory
- General economic malaise
“I hope we’ll see more housing development than offices,” says Kip Bergstrom of the city’s Urban Redevelopment Commission. “We do have the first inclusionary zoning ordinance in the state. But the city will need to proactively work to preserve and develop affordable and workforce-affordable housing.”