The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT)
Evergreen Walk retail center in South Windsor continues to add new tenants
The Promenade Shops at Evergreen Walk will celebrate its 20th anniversary next year and in the run-up to that milestone, the South Windsor lifestyle center is adding new tenants on almost a monthly basis.
Stamford-based furniture retailer Lovesac opened its fifth Connecticut store in Evergreen Walk in mid-January and was followed a month later by upscale fast food chain Shake Shack in mid-February. The Shake Shack location in South Windsor is the New York Citybased chain’s sixth restaurant in Connecticut and the first east of the Connecticut River.
Later this spring, The Goddard School, a private, early childhood education center that has 13 Connecticut locations, will open in Evergreen Walk. The school will be joined in its spring opening by an as yet unnamed athletic shoe and leisure clothing retailer, according to officials with Greenwich-based Charter Realty & Development, which manages Evergreen Walk.
The identity new sports shoe and clothing retailer is perhaps the worst kept secret, however. Anyone driving on Evergreen Way, the main street in the retail center can a white and blue covering of one of the store fronts that proudly announces the impending arrival of Nike.
When the Nike store opens in Evergreen Walk by late spring, it will be the Oregonbased brand’s third Connecticut store. Nike has factory stores at the Foxwoods Casino’s retail complex in Ledyard and at Clinton Premium Outlets.
But perhaps what is the most highly anticipated retail opening at Evergreen Walk is still a year away. Construction of the South Windsor location is well underway. Karen Johnson, Charter Realty’s vice president of development, said the 50,000 square foot grocery store won’t open until the first quarter of next year.
“The existence of the Whole Foods will add some vibrancy to that end of the center.” Johnson said. “The steel shell is up on the building and it will be fully enclosed soon.”
When Whole Foods opens next year, there will be an adjacent space for another retailer, according to Evergreen Walk officials.
In addition to the new stores moving into Evergreen Walk, the retail center is now linked to Costco, which is in another part of Evergreen Walk that previously hadn’t been linked to The Promenade Shops section via an internal access roads on the property. That meant shoppers who wanted to go from a store in The Promenade Shops to Costco had to use the very busy Buckland Road to get there.
Wooing retailers that have a limited Connecticut presence, Johnson said, is part of strategy to increase overall foot traffic at Evergreen Walk.
“All of our new tenants are unique to the market,” she said referring to northeastern Connecticut, “That allows all of the unit owners to benefit from each others’ presence.”
But finding unique retailers that can afford long term leases is becoming increasingly more difficult, according to retail experts.
David Cadden, a professor emeritus at Quinnipiac University’s School of Business, said retailers like Williams-Sonoma and The Apple Store qualify as unique retailers in Connecticut because even though both have multiple stores in the state, they have exhibited discipline in where they put their new locations. Both retailers have a presence in Evergreen Walk.
“They want make sure they have sufficient traffic going through their store so they retain a certain cachet,” Cadden said.
The retail sector “is currently going through a reboot, an ice age that will totally remake the landscape,” said Burt Flickinger, managing director of the Strategic Resource Group, a New York City-based business that does consulting work.
“Typically, most retailers look to have their stores spaced in a three-to-six mile radius,” Flickinger said. “But for business like Nike and Shake Shack can draw customers from a 25to-30 mile radius,”
Flickinger said Evergreen Walk has a strong portfolio of “of A-List tenants.”
While Charter Realty doesn’t release sales figure for the retail center, Johnson said The Promenade Shops at Evergreen Walk “saw an increase in foot traffic in December compared to the same period in the previous year.”
Ownership of Evergreen Walk is divided up into sections between 15 property owners, she said. Individual tenants own their property, but are also part of a master association, according to Johnson.