August 12, 2013
CT's wealthiest ZIP codes

Affluent flock to suburbs

Photo | Pablo Robles
Photo | Pablo Robles
Simsbury First Selectman Mary Glassman said her town — home to several of Greater Hartford's wealthiest ZIP codes — attracts affluent residents because of its quality schools and open space.
Photos | Contributed
Retailers flock to wealthier ZIP codes, where the higher disposable income can support more businesses, such as in Blue Back Square in West Hartford and The Shoppes at Farmington Valley in Canton.

Much of the wealth in Greater Hartford finds its way to open space, where large homes can be built, nature and scenic views enjoyed, and services are conveniently nearby.

A Hartford Business Journal analysis of the wealthiest ZIP codes in the region reveals suburban towns with more rural settings like Glastonbury, Simsbury, and Granby tend to lead the pack. Vital amenities like good schools have allowed towns like West Hartford and, again, Simsbury, to attract the region's most prosperous residents.

"The spending power that is available by folks who are affluent can support businesses in town," said Kenith Leslie, community development director for Glastonbury, home to Greater Hartford's wealthiest ZIP code, 06073.

The proprietary methodology for ranking Connecticut's wealthiest ZIP codes was developed by Redlands, Calif. mapping software developer Environmental Research Systems Inc. using metrics including net worth, home value, and personal income. The level of wealth is not based on income alone.

Simsbury had two of its four ZIP codes in the top 10 — the West Simsbury area (06092) was No. 2, while the Simsbury proper area (06070) was No. 6.

What attracts people of all incomes, but particularly the wealthy, to Simsbury is its schools and large amount of open space, said Simsbury First Selectman Mary Glassman. The town is 30 percent open space and includes both river and mountain views.

"When you go out to West Simsbury, you get more of a country feel," Glassman said. "It is a uniquely beautiful part of our community."

Coupled with the open space, Simsbury has amenities such as the summer home of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and the Simsbury Farms recreational complex.

"Simsbury is a unique community that provides a lot of value," Glassman said.

Compared to Connecticut's overall wealth, Greater Hartford's affluence comes in second.

Of the wealthiest ZIP codes in the state, Fairfield County is home to the top nine and 18 of the top 30, including No. 1 — Weston's 06883.

"We have an outstanding school district," Weston First Selectman Gayle Weinstein said. "Because we are a small town, we offer a private school feel in a public school setting."

Weston also has two-acre zoning, allowing for bigger homes, and the second worst economic development in the state, keeping the hustle and bustle away from the town residents, Weinstein said.

"We are a small town with a big heart," Weinstein added.

Greater Hartford's top ZIP code, in Glastonbury, comes in as the No. 11 wealthiest in the state. Still, Hartford County has seven ZIP codes in the top 30, compared to four for New Haven County and one for Litchfield County.

Wealth has generated an interesting dichotomy in West Hartford, where the rich have created a well-funded school system attracting lower income families to the town, said Town Manager Ron Van Winkle.

"A lot of families stretch their budgets to buy or rent to live here in West Hartford, so their kids can go to school here," Van Winkle said. "We certainly have some very poor areas."

Two of West Hartford's ZIPs (06117 and 06103) are in the top 10 in Greater Hartford, but Van Winkle said the town's other two ZIP codes probably are among the poorest. The town is home to several four-room homes and plenty of million-dollar houses.

The dichotomy creates a diversity Van Winkle is proud of, as it forms a more rounded community, and a school system where 66 different languages are spoken.

"It is a challenge, but it is also what makes us an attractive community," Van Winkle said. "Diversity fits well in our community and fits well in our school system."

West Hartford doesn't have the open space advantages of other wealthy communities in Greater Hartford, but it is the start of a suburban wealth chain going west and north out of the Capital City that extends to Simsbury, Granby, Burlington, and Avon.

Noticeably absent are ZIP codes from Connecticut's three largest cities. Hartford, Bridgeport and New Haven don't have a single ZIP code in the top 30 rankings for Connecticut or Greater Hartford.

The numbers reflect the growing wealth divide that has become commonplace in Connecticut, as well-heeled residents continue to flock to the suburbs.

The largest cities in the rankings were Stamford and Norwalk, the state's fourth and sixth most populous municipalities. Both were represented high on the list with Stamford having the No. 2 wealthiest ZIP code (06903) and Norwalk having No. 3 (06853).

Meanwhile, Simsbury works hard to keep large amounts of open space that all income levels prefer, Glassman said. The town is very cautious in its growth, restricting things like the width of its main street and development in open space.

"The community in general tries to balance its unique characteristics," Glassman said. "It is a balance that is watched and protected."

The Simsbury town government tries to keep spending in check. Its current budget is its lowest in the past five years, Glassman said.

"It is the opposite of what you think, that the more wealth you have, the larger the town budgets are," Glassman said.

In addition to having Greater Hartford's wealthiest ZIP code, Glastonbury is home to the No. 17 wealthiest ZIP — 06033. The town has plenty of amenities to keep the rich happy, Leslie said, such as personal service businesses and restaurants, particularly in the South Village.

Glastonbury also is home to the Crystal Ridge neighborhood, what Leslie estimates is the wealthiest neighborhood in Greater Hartford.

"Where there aren't farms, there are our largest and most expensive single-family dwellings in the town," Leslie said. "A lot of the properties have views of the Connecticut River Valley and downtown Hartford."

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