Retail rents and commute times: How Wilton compares to other towns

According to the Economic Development Commission, Wilton is actually tied with Ridgefield for the cheapest average retail rental rates in the area.

At $32 per square foot, they’re the lowest rates around. Darien’s average retail rental rate is $33 per square foot, Stamford and Fairfield are $35, while Norwalk is $46. Westport (excluding Main Street) is $38, and Greenwich (excluding Greenwich Avenue) is $45.

The Wilton Economic Development Commission’s recent analysis of Wilton’s economy — presented at the Board of Selectmen meeting on June 20 — included data that compares our town to those that surround it.

The findings come in several different categories, each of which puts Wilton within the context of the area.

Apparently, Wilton is one of the youngest towns as well. The median age in Wilton is 42. In Weston, New Canaan, and Ridgefield, it’s 43. Westport’s median age is 45, and Redding’s is 49. Younger than Wilton are Darien with a median age of 39, and Norwalk, with a median age of 41.

Populations compare as follows.

  • Norwalk — 87,214

  • Westport — 27,055

  • Ridgefield — 25,025

  • Darien — 21,190

  • New Canaan — 20,073

  • Wilton — 18,519

  • Weston — 10,319

  • Redding — 9,267

As for median household income, Wilton is in the top half of towns studied. The median income of $175,019 puts the town ahead of Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield and Westport. The median incomes in New Canaan, Darien and Weston are higher.

The EDC noted that these figures are “slightly skewed” because they do not reflect adjusted gross income, and that the commission is pursuing that data to add to its findings.

The EDC said that 48% of the businesses that responded to its survey considered other towns before setting up shop in Wilton. The commission noted that each business was able to specify several alternative towns.

Five businesses considered Westport, and five considered Fairfield. Considering Norwalk were four, while three considered Ridgefield as well as New Canaan. Two businesses considered Stamford, Redding, Greenwich, and Darien, and Weston. Westchester County and northern New Jersey were considered by one business each.

Between April 1, 2015, and March 31, 2016, residential homebuyers who considered Wilton but ultimately bought elsewhere mostly settled in Ridgefield, Westport, or New Canaan. Fewer bought in Redding, Norwalk, Weston, and Darien.

The EDC pointed out that during this period, most buyers who went with alternatives to Wilton did so because they thought Wilton’s taxes were too high, or the commute from Wilton to New York City was too far.

Ridgefield, Westport and New Canaan all have lower mill rates than Wilton, but only Westport and New Canaan have shorter commutes. Ridgefield’s commute to the city is farther.

Mill rates

Wilton — 26.8302

Ridgefield — 26.01

Westport — 18.09

New Canaan — 15.985

Commute times

Wilton Center — three trains before 9 a.m., average time to Grand Central Terminal is published as 86.3 minutes.

Ridgefield Branchville — three trains before 9 a.m., average time to Grand Central Terminal is 97.3 minutes.

Westport — 11 trains before 9 a.m., average time to Grand Central Terminal is 69.7 minutes.

New Canaan — four trains before 9 a.m., average time to Grand Central Terminal is 68.75 minutes.

Other data

The EDC also reported that Wilton’s unemployment rate is the lowest in the surrounding area.

In 2014, the rates were as follows.

  • Wilton — 3.8%

  • Darien — 4.3%

  • Ridgefield — 4.7%

  • Fairfield — 5.0%

  • Norwalk — 5.4%

  • Redding — 5.4%

The EDC compiled the data in this article from town financials, Connecticut Economic Resource Center profiles, interviews of residential real estate brokers, and survey responses from businesses in town.