Big Opportunities in Little Manhattan

City of Stamford

A thriving financial services industry combined with a vibrant arts and entertainment scene are attracting more and more people to Stamford, Connecticut. “This is the place to be,” insists Mayor David Martin. “People want to live in Stamford and do business in Stamford.”

Long considered a prime alternative to Manhattan living, Stamford boasts a fast growing downtown filled with so many new high rises that the city has become known as “Little Manhattan.”

Residents enjoy access to a top notch school system and an array of amenities, from upscale shopping and dining to non-profit art studios and outdoor concerts. “We have great entertainment,” Mr. Martin says, “but I think the most important thing is we are achieving a critical mass of people. There is a pool of talented individuals in Stamford who understand business and who work in business ranging from the financial services industry to both digital media and traditional media.”

This critical mass of skilled workers is key, particularly to the financial services industry, for which Stamford is known. Located about 30 miles from Manhattan, the Connecticut city has the largest financial district in the Greater New York metro area outside of New York City itself. “Any industry of that magnitude needs employees who know the basic issues surrounding that industry,” Mr. Martin explains. “With some industries you have to be close to the natural resources; but industries that use intellectual capital need to be where the intellectual capital is. Your most important resource is people.” In other words, Stamford’s reputation as a financial services center attracts likeminded companies because they know that Stamford has the talent pool they need. Therefore, the ongoing growth within this sector “is a statement that Stamford has intellectual capital.”

Stamford’s talent pool and business sectors go beyond financial services. In total, the city is home to four fortune 500 companies, nine fortune 1000 companies, and thirteen Courant 100 Companies. In fact, the city has one of the largest concentrations of corporations in the United States and boasts a number of well-known organizations including NBC Sports, WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment), Pitney Bowes, and Tosco, Royal Bank of Scotland, Gardner Group, and Starwood Hotel.

And, Stamford continues to grow. The city is currently in the midst of a building boom with many new structures, such as the opulent Trump Parc, reshaping the skyline. Construction is also underway on the new, $450 million Stamford Hospital. “There has been a huge amount of development,” Mr. Martin remarks, particularly on apartments and condos to house the growing population. Young professionals are flocking to Stamford, both to work within the city and to take advantage of the short commuting distance to Manhattan. “People are waiting in line to get into these apartment buildings,” Mr. Martin points out. Furthermore, a diverse blend of neighborhoods offers the right living environment for every taste, from trendy and urban, to spacious and suburban, to beach front, and even country living.

These new residents are eager to take advantage of Stamford’s prime location. The city sits within the BosWash Megalopolis, America’s vast metropolitan area stretching over 500 miles from Boston to Washington, DC; this means that four out of seven of the nation’s largest CMSAs (Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Areas) are a relatively short drive or train ride away. Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, DC are all easily accessible, and Manhattan is a mere 40 minutes by car or 50 minutes by express train.

Yet Stamford itself has more than enough to keep residents occupied without having to travel out of town. “We have the vibrancy of the city,” Mr. Martin points out. Downtown Stamford has over 80 restaurants and a wide array of shops, services, arts, and nightlife. Special events and concerts are held throughout the year. Street Seats in Stamford Downtown engages the talent of the local and regional art community to create an extraordinary outdoor art exhibit. Jazz Up July is an outdoor summer jazz concert series with live music from national and regional headliners. Alive@Five is another summer concert series with live music from national headliners that attracts after work crowds. And every Thanksgiving, Stamford throws one of the largest helium balloon parades in the country, featuring giant balloon characters as well as award winning marching bands and showy floats.

The city is also in the midst of creating a 28-acre park and three-mile greenway to Stamford Harbor. Mill River Park is “transforming the heart of Stamford and serving as a catalyst for residential development, corporate and commercial growth, and as a new venue for healthful active recreation and non-motorized commuting,” the park’s website reports. The project will provide “a new model for redefining urban life and attracting the new, young urban residents who want to work and live in close proximity without compromising quality of life.” The park is expected to provide a needed balance to Stamford’s “robust built environment” and improve the city’s livability.

Residents also have access to plenty of green spaces surrounding the city as well as an abundance of nature trails. With 1,756 acres of protected land, nearby Devil’s Den is the Nature Conservancy’s largest preserve in Connecticut. The Stamford Museum & Nature Center is also a vital cultural and educational resource for the entire community. Water lovers enjoy unwinding at Stamford’s beaches where they can fish, picnic, bird watch, wander along scenic trails, fly kites, and swim in the Long Island Sound.

Residents can also take advantage of the Stamford Innovation Center. Located in the Old Town Hall, the center “provides a comfortable setting for independent professionals to connect with like-minded individuals through its coworking space, events, and education,” the center’s website reports. “It is a place for people who are entrepreneurs or innovators or people who want to be entrepreneurs or innovators,” Mr. Martin adds. Known as Stamford’s “entrepreneurial hub,” the center offers invaluable support to new start-ups and exposure to a powerful network of industry leaders, mentors, entrepreneurs and innovators.

Stamford also boasts an excellent education system. “Westhill High was just ranked one of the top high schools in the country,” Mr. Martin reports. At Westhill High and throughout the city, students are excelling. “About 45 percent of our students are taking AP classes. 87 percent are going on to higher education [and attending] such schools as MIT, Yale, Duke, Cornell, NYU, and Brown.” In addition, the University of Connecticut, University of Bridgeport and Sacred Heart University all have campuses in Stamford.

Perhaps most importantly, Stamford is a safe city, with only 1,934 crimes per 100,000 people. “We have the lowest crime rate of any city in New England,” Mr. Martin says. “It is half that of any other city in Connecticut,” and it is continuing to fall.

With so much to offer, it is not surprising that Movoto Real Estate recently named Stamford the best place to live in Connecticut. The California firm listed several reasons for this honor: low student-to-teacher ratio of just 12 to 1, a median household income 89 percent higher than the rest of the state, and a median home price of $574,900.

The word is out, and Stamford has become one of the fastest growing cities in the northeastern United States. Investors around the country – and the world – are paying attention. Locals, however, do not need to look to the flashy new skyline to see that progress is being made. “We are filling the hole in the ground,” Mr. Martin laughs. Anyone who knows Stamford knows about this infamous ‘hole in the ground.’ For decades the downtown has been the site of an unfinished development that bankrupted, leaving nothing but an unsightly vacant lot. Locals are thrilled that a developer has recently acquired the property and may have plans to build a mixed-use development that includes 672 units of housing, and retail space.

The end of the ‘hole in the ground’ is clear evidence of Stamford’s increasing economic success and ongoing growth. The financial center is taking advantage of its location and skilled workforce to attract more and more people and jobs. “We have a AAA bond rating that was reaffirmed in January,” the Mayor points out. “Our vacancy rate for commercial property is going down, and our unemployment rate is going down. It is already better than the unemployment rate in the rest of the nation and in the state of Connecticut. We are moving in the right direction.”

For more information about the City of Stamford, please visit

July 21, 2018, 3:45 AM EDT

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