The Central Business District
Waterbury downtown center, with its rich mix of historic architecture surrounding a classic New England Green, is undergoing a true renaissance with the expansion of UCONN Waterbury, including the recent renovation of the historic Rectory Building and the planned introduction of student housing in the Brown Building.
Mayor O’Leary’s vision of a downtown center that is once again vibrant with students, shoppers and residents is taking shape as the City works with the State of Connecticut to improve public transportation to Hartford, Fairfield County and New York City. The state is also widening Interstate 84 through the city, a project that is certain to bring more businesses and customers downtown.
Our downtown reflects the City Beautiful movement in landscape architecture as historic Cass Gilbert government buildings are linked by Grand Street to Union Station, which was designed by the famed NYC firm of McKim, Mead and White as a train station and now houses the offices of the local daily newspaper. A small portion of the building still serves the train line. The City, working in partnership with the State of Connecticut, continues to improve both operations and the facility of the Metro-North branch line at Waterbury. The station is the terminus of the Waterbury branch of Metro-North's New Haven line and is the most used of the three commuter stations on the line. In fact, more than 1,000 people commute from Waterbury to New York City daily.
In the last few years, downtown revitalization has remained at the forefront for the O’Leary Administration. The city continues working on an historic federal TIGER grant it received in 2014. This $14 million grant, coupled with a smaller contribution from the city, will enhance mass transit in Waterbury while highlighting the beauty and viability of our downtown. The TIGER grant will be coupled with the rollout of Waterbury NEXT, an almost $20 million public-private investment in our downtown, to make several changes, including renovations to historic buildings to create many new downtown apartments that will attract students and young professionals.
The Green is being enhanced through renovations, which will include the introduction of WiFi to draw people there. And a planned downtown streetscape project will improve the use of existing sidewalks along streets that radiate from the Green by making them more walkable and widening them to allow sidewalk dining outside restaurants.
Earlier public investments downtown include the construction of the UCONN downtown branch campus, the construction of the downtown Waterbury Arts Magnet School (WAMS), and the renovation of the historic Palace Theater. The newly renovated Rectory Building, next door to the Palace, opened in early 2016. The city signed a long-term lease to rent the top three floors of the four-story Rectory Building to UCONN Waterbury for instructional and other uses. Plans are for a national coffee chain to move into the first floor.
A downtown facade program that has led to the restoration of historic facades throughout the center of the central business district continues to make noticeable changes.
In addition, Waterbury is an active member of the Connecticut Main Street program, which aims to stimulate economic renewal within the framework of historic preservation. Main Street Waterbury has received several awards from the Connecticut Main Street program.
For long-term investors interested in establishing themselves in the downtown area, Waterbury offers affordability and one-of-a-kind urban planning. With well over 150 businesses located within its boundaries, which include professional offices, restaurants, entertainment venues, educational facilities and retail establishments, the central business district offers elegantly refurbished brownstones and turn-of-the-century architecture with affordable housing opportunities, retail and office space. Click here to find out about available properties in the central business district, or visit Main Street Waterbury.