Encouraged by Stamford's strong residential growth (as of 2007 the city's population grew 3.5 percent to 120,959), Taubman Centers, Inc. is redeveloping its 855,000-square-foot Stamford Town Center. In March, the Bloomfield, Mich-based REIT announced plans to spend $51 million as it repositions the mall. In addition, in November, Taubman revealed plans to open a new outdoor shopping plaza at the project, built on the site formerly occupied by a 160,000-square-foot Filene's Department Store.

The plaza, which was 100 percent pre-leased as of October 2006, will feature the state's largest Barnes & Noble at 40,000 square feet and the city's first. Taubman expects returns in the 7.5 percent to 8 percent range.

Stamford posted a vacancy rate of 7.2 percent in the first quarter, below the 8.2 percent average for the region. Effective rental rates in the city were $28 per square foot in the first quarter of 2007, above the average for the Westchester/Southern Connecticut market, which posted rents of $21.99, according to CoStar Group, Inc.

The outdoor plaza will also correct a flaw in the center's layout. When it was constructed, by F.D. Rich Co. in 1982, it drew criticism for its lack of convenient pedestrian access.