Orange a sought after business community

ORANGE - At last month's Board of Selectmen meeting Orange Economic Development Director Paul Grimmer made his annual report to the board.

"By all accounts 2007 was a slow year. We usually have 16 to 32 new businesses a year and we had 12 this past year - two industrial, six retail, three restaurant and one office," Grimmer said.

However Grimmer immediately put the board at ease.

"Orange definitely remains a desirable and sought-after region for development," he said.

Grimmer explained why such businesses as Circuit City and La-Z -Boy moved to Milford from Orange.

"Those companies made business decisions for their franchises and moved them from 25 plus year-old buildings to new ones," he said. He pointed out that some businesses have made their locations more desirable than others.

"Raymour and Flanigan turned a dilapidated plaza into a beautiful place with a total façade (makeover)," he said, adding that such structural upgrades draw new business.

Another example is "Orange promenade was 40 to 50 percent empty but refurbished it and now there is Trader Joe's, Talbots, UPS store and LL Bean," he said.

"LL Bean is a huge hit. It was exciting to see (on a recent weekend) people walking in and out of stores," he told the board excitedly.

He also mentioned that a gourmet food store is also coming to town soon.

Selectman Anthony Nastri asked Grimmer to correct some "misinformation" about vacant buildings.

Grimmer explained that it matters little whether a business is operating or sits empty on how taxes are paid.

"You lose little (tax revenue) when a business moves out. The real estate tax stays," Grimmer said

Grimmer pointed out again how desirable a location Orange is.

"Spring Brook Commons on Marsh Hill Road will be opening in April and already 37,000 of the 56,000 square feet are already leased," he announced.

Grimmer explained a potential plus to having a turnover in businesses. "As property is redeveloped it is reassessed," he said.