An insider's view of the Connecticut dining scene
Oct 30, 2013
06:38 PM
The Connecticut Table

Wine On9 Event Will Show Off New Haven's Ninth Square District

Wine On9 Event Will Show Off New Haven's Ninth Square District

The Wine On9 logo and poster were created by artist Thomas Drew.

Also connect with New Haven Restaurant Week, which starts Sunday, Nov 3.

The Ninth Square District in New Haven was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. That history is surely a drawing card, but there were periods between the 80s and now when the area, in the southeast section of the downtown, was more challenged than charming.

Today, according to the On9 website, Ninth Square—or 9th Square—is “a hub of chic dining, eclectic shops, art galleries, jazz clubs, and architecture studios [that] mixes with an active nightclub scene. Gateway Community College, with its 7,000+ students, recently relocated to its new campus in the 9th Square neighborhood,” which is “anchored by 360 State, the 32-story, $190 million mixed-use project, which has added 500 new luxury apartments and a full service grocery store, [meaning] the district is transforming into an über-hip dwelling for young professionals.”

Hopeful marketing hyperbole?

Nope; just the opposite.

Ninth Square is everything that its marketing and development team says it is. Just ask the subject of another Ninth Square story, Orange Street entrepreneur and fashion designer Neville Wisdom, or the folks at Reynolds Fine Art, which has an opening coinciding with WineOn9, or at The Wine Thief and other businesses in the district.

Better yet, discover all that Ninth Square has to offer in a special First Friday event Nov. 1 that will put out a warm welcome mat at 16 prime venues in the district. In Wine On9, running from 6 to 8 p.m., participating businesses will be serving wine selected by The Wine Thief, while participating restaurants will be offering tastings from their own wine lists.

In the process of enjoying some fine wines—and, knowing The Wine Thief, making some happy discoveries—you’ll also get a generous taste of what Ninth Square has to offer, setting the stage to come back and explore further.

Don’t hesitate on this opportunity. There is only room for 250 participants and more than half the tickets have already sold, the website says. So purchase your tickets, which cost $15 in advance and include a special Wine On9 glass for tastings at the participating businesses in the Ninth Square. Event check-in will be at 71 Orange Street, the former location of The Grove. There, guests will receive the wine glass, a wrist band, and a map of all the participating venues. Guests must be 21 or older, and a valid ID is needed at check in.

Then you can visit all the wine venues in any order you choose, and the organizers suggest ending the tour at The Wine Thief, located at 181 Crown Street, for a final tasting and opportunity to purchase wines that you have enjoyed.

Participating businesses include:

Meat & Company -  118 Crown Street

Inspired Turkey  – 82 Crown Street

Capture – 100 Crown Street

Thali – 4 Orange Street

Graffio Jewelers – 28 Orange Street

NW Boutique – 63 Orange Street

Palmeria Brasil – 56 Orange Street

Bentara – 76 Orange Street

Giampietro Gallery – 91 Orange Street

Arpaia Lang – 806 Chapel Street

English Building Market – 839 Chapel Street

817 Chapel – upstairs

Project Storefronts – 756 Chapel Street

Elm City Market – 777 Chapel Street

Sweet Mary’s – 129 Court Street

Michael’s Downtown – 130 Court Street

Meanwhile, for more context on Ninth Square and its ascendance, we turned to Christina M. Ortwein, manager of the Economic Prosperity Initiative, which was launched in 2011 by the Town Green Special Services District, a business improvement district funded by a surtax on property in downtown New Haven.

 

Ninth Square is part of that, and On9 is an initiative of the Town Green Special Services District, which “strives to improve ownership values by making downtown New Haven an internationally competitive urban environment in which to live, work, learn and play. Our core programs include clean and safe events and promotions, economic prosperity and advocacy, and community outreach and engagement.”

“It’s pretty exciting to see it all,” Ortwein said of the growth of Ninth Square, recalling that when the Economic Prosperity Initiative was begun in 2011, the vacancy rate in the area was 19 percent and “it became very apparent that there weren’t people walking around on the streets.”

“I started focusing my efforts on the Ninth Square area,” Ortwein said, explaining that the goals were, and remain, to create awareness that Ninth Square exists as a unique socio-geographic phenomenon—like SoNo in Fairfield County, perhaps—to “get more feet on the street” and to bring in new businesses.

Positive results followed, especially with the launch of a series of events to give the area a higher profile—with ongoing and series being key words in the effort—and “to get people to go from one place to another.”

As of this year, the First Friday events, during which Orange Street is closed to traffic, are running from April through December, and each month has a different theme. This month’s is Wine On9, and on Dec. 6 the event will be Cookies On9.

Another distinction for Ninth Square, Ortwein said, is that while other areas of downtown New Haven may be more successful in terms of the retail they have, Ninth Square is a neighborhood, it’s where a lot of people live. And that status is reflected in the marketing branding: “Art, food, life, here.”

In terms of art, the newest arrival is the Giampietro Gallery, for which there was a ribbon-cutting last month. All of the other Ninth Square merchant and amenities are listed on the On9 website.

Meanwhile, the Town Green Special Services District that includes Ninth Square is a 27-block area that encompasses essentially all of the downtown except for the Broadway District, Ortwein explained. “Interestingly, our district does not include the town green,” she said. To learn more, see the district’s website.

 

Wine On9 Event Will Show Off New Haven's Ninth Square District

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