Porter and Chester Institute plans new Hamden campus at old Stop and Shop building

HAMDEN – Porter and Chester Institute has received zoning permits necessary to open a branch at the site of the former Stop and Shop in Putnam Place Shopping Center on Dixwell Avenue.

Town Planner Dan Kops said Wednesday that he has signed off on the permit for the school to go in to the long-empty space. Stop and Shop closed the store five years ago, leaving southern Hamden without a major grocery store.

“We’re very excited about the potential addition of a school into the mix as part of the new Putnam Place,” Mayor Curt Balzano Leng said. “In the new economy, to be successful, mixed use development often needs to be creative, and this addition will bring a lot people to the plaza every day, bringing dollars to spend at the new businesses coming in now and in the future.”

Porter and Chester has locations in Massachusetts and Connecticut, including in Branford, Waterbury, Enfield, Rocky Hill and Stratford. They offer healthcare, automotive, cosmetology, practical nursing, medical assistant, dental assistant and HVAC/R programs.

The town’s economic development officials have worked since Stop and Shop closed in 2013 to fill the space, and have had several retailers express interest in the location. Economic Development Director Dale Kroop couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday but has said in the past that is has been difficult to get a new tenant because of the area’s demographics regarding medium income.

But over the past few years, several major apartment and condominium projects have moved forward, most notably the 393-unit development on Mather Street approved in 2015 that brings an influx of hundreds of new residents just blocks down the street from Putnam Plaza.

Leng gave much of the credit for attracting the school to Hamden to Kroop.

“Kudos are deserved for our Economic Development and Neighborhood Revitalization Director Dale Kroop, who has been working hands on with the private developer and helped to secure needed grant funds to help facilitate the school’s relocation to Hamden,” Leng said. “This is just part of what we hope will be several very positive commercial announcements for this plaza in the coming months.”

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