Candlewood Lake Economic Boost for Danbury Area: 'Target’

I amAlmost done A century since its construction And Candlewood Lake has become an asset to the local economy with its recreational, residential and commercial opportunities.

„When they thought of Candlewood Lake, they did justice to Fairfield County,” said Mark Roque, owner of Echo Bay Marina in Brookfield. „What’s great about Candlewood Lake is that it’s not designed around the tourist model with boardwalks and parks and saltwater taffy — it’s a family-friendly, low-key, non-commercialized place.”

Candlewood Lake borders the cities of Danbury, New Milford, New Fairfield, Sherman and Brookfield, all of which rely on the lake for summer recreation opportunities.

Down the Hatch Restaurant has a dock that can be used to access the Candlewood Lake Restaurant. Candle Lake has had a positive impact on the local economy and its role in attracting more people to local restaurants and businesses. Thursday, July 20, 2023, Brookfield, Conn.H John Voorhees III/Hearst Connecticut Media

In addition to providing outdoor recreation options, the lake drew interest from homeowners looking for a million-dollar home by the water and brought business to local marinas, restaurants and hotels.

„Being the largest man-made lake in Connecticut, it attracts tourists, many of them from out of state and out of state,” said Danbury Economic Development Director Shay Nagarsheth. „Certainly a lot of area businesses benefit from the lake or the recreational aspects of the lake…there are positive economic impacts from lake traffic, not to mention the residential impact the lake has had.”

The lake has become more popular during COVID-19 as more people return to outdoor recreation.

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„The lake has become a popular destination after COVID — more people are renting homes on the lake,” said Scott Parente, owner of the lakeside-restaurant Down the Hatch in Brookfield. „A couple of houses around the restaurant, that’s what they were doing during Covid.”

Krista and Scott Parente are sister and brother co-owners of Down the Hatch Restaurant, the restaurant site on Candlewood Lake.  The restaurant has a dock for boaters to access the restaurant.  Candle Lake has had a positive impact on the local economy and its role in attracting more people to local restaurants and businesses.  Thursday, July 20, 2023, Brookfield, Conn.
Krista and Scott Parente are sister and brother co-owners of Down the Hatch Restaurant, the restaurant site on Candlewood Lake. The restaurant has a dock for boaters to access the restaurant. Candle Lake has had a positive impact on the local economy and its role in attracting more people to local restaurants and businesses. Thursday, July 20, 2023, Brookfield, Conn.H John Voorhees III/Hearst Connecticut Media

Hot real estate market in Candlewood Lake

Five towns border Candlewood Lake 64 lake communities. Waterfront properties in the region sell for millions of dollars, according to Ellen Cavallo Puccitti, a broker with Independent Realty Group in New Fairfield.

Pucciti says his real estate company is still getting offers on homes above asking price because „anything that comes into the lake community will garner more interest.”

„We’re not seeing crazy, but we’re still seeing people coming from the city, coming to the lake because it’s becoming more popular,” he said.

Down the Hatch Restaurant has a dock that can be used to access the Candlewood Lake Restaurant.  Candle Lake has had a positive impact on the local economy and its role in attracting more people to local restaurants and businesses.  Thursday, July 20, 2023, Brookfield, Conn.
Down the Hatch Restaurant has a dock that can be used to access the Candlewood Lake Restaurant. Candle Lake has had a positive impact on the local economy and its role in attracting more people to local restaurants and businesses. Thursday, July 20, 2023, Brookfield, Conn.H John Voorhees III/Hearst Connecticut Media

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Nagarsheth said home prices in Candlewood Lake „have skyrocketed in recent years,” Brookfield economic development director Greg Dempocci said.

„Property tax revenue from our lake communities is an important factor for the city to fund its municipal and school operations and capital budget,” Dembowski said. „Water quality in both lakes is critical to the city’s economic vitality.”

Candlewood Lake is a vacation spot

Tourists interested in an overnight trip can check out the various hotels within driving distance of Candlewood Lake – many of which have incorporated the lake into their business.

Vacation Rental Company Airbnb There are many lakefront properties for rent for vacationers. Candlewood Inn in BrookfieldLocated on the lakefront, d offers wedding packages for couples looking for a waterfront wedding. Homestead Inn in New Milford There is a famous cabin named after the lake.

„It’s one of the most popular places, I know. Candlewood Lake has been an attraction since the early 20th century,” said Antonio Garcia, keeper of the Homestead Inn. „It’s hard to be an inn in a small town, and certainly Candlewood Lake and places like it help businesses like this thrive… It’s nice to have some places for guests to walk the trails and swim.”

Gavin Michelson, 2-month-old, of New Fairfield, sleeps while his family, mom Annie, dad Matt, sister Aria and family friend Paul, eat lunch at the Down the Hatch restaurant on Candlewood Lake Road.  The restaurant has a dock that can be pulled up to boaters.  Candle Lake has had a positive impact on the local economy and its role in attracting more people to local restaurants and businesses.  Thursday, July 20, 2023, Brookfield, Conn.

Gavin Michaelson, 2-month-old, of New Fairfield, sleeps while his family, mom Annie, dad Matt, sister Aria and family friend Paul, eat lunch at the Down the Hatch restaurant on Candlewood Lake Road. The restaurant has a dock that can be pulled up to boaters. Candle Lake has had a positive impact on the local economy and its role in attracting more people to local restaurants and businesses. Thursday, July 20, 2023, Brookfield, Conn.

H John Voorhees III/Hearst Connecticut Media

Sandy Fish, founder and owner of Hour Lake, a lake-themed gift shop in New Milford, said she and her daughters grew up on Candlewood Lake. Candlewood Lake has become a retreat for vacationers and out-of-state residents, he said.

„Like a lot of vacationers here, a lot of them are local, a lot of them are over a state away or a lot of them moved away, they’re always visiting friends and family,” Fish said. „You’re definitely drawn back to Candlewood Lake.”

’Summer Fun at the Lake’

Local marinas were booked up within the first weeks of summer 2023, and thousands of people flocked to the waters of Candlewood Lake.

„We wouldn’t have a business without it,” Roque said of Candlewood Lake. „Summer fun at the lake is really what we sell.”

Echo Bay Marina photo taken on Thursday, May 18, 2023 at Candlewood Lake in Brookfield.

Echo Bay Marina photo taken on Thursday, May 18, 2023 at Candlewood Lake in Brookfield.

Tyler Sizemore/Hearst Connecticut Media

Roque says the lake has drawn more people from out of state to his marina, which he says has a lot to do with Airbnb rentals.

Down the Hatch, Brookfield’s only waterfront restaurant, offered about 38 boat slips at its opening, the owner said.

„At night it gets busy for diners because a lot of people get dropped off,” Parente said of the restaurant’s business.

Mary Sue Christophers, Ridgefield, right, and Carol Pickman, Brookfield, lunchtime regulars at Down the Hatch restaurant on Candlewood Lake Road, enjoy lunch on the restaurant deck overlooking Candlewood Lake.  Candle Lake has had a positive impact on the local economy and its role in attracting more people to local restaurants and businesses.  Thursday, July 20, 2023, Brookfield, Conn.

Mary Sue Christophers, Ridgefield, right, and Carol Pickman, Brookfield, lunchtime regulars at Down the Hatch restaurant on Candlewood Lake Road, enjoy lunch on the restaurant deck overlooking Candlewood Lake. Candle Lake has had a positive impact on the local economy and its role in attracting more people to local restaurants and businesses. Thursday, July 20, 2023, Brookfield, Conn.

H John Voorhees III/Hearst Connecticut Media

Along with boating, swimming and other water sports, Candlewood Lake offers opportunities for area anglers like Paul Mueller. Guided fishing tours Year round at the lake.

„It’s a very popular place to take people fishing because we have large and small mouth bass and yellow perch, white perch, black crappie,” Mueller said. „I think it’s a world-class fishery for all species. There are people who travel all over to come there… They come from all over New England to fish this lake.

„I fish all over the country and Candlewood is still one of the best fisheries I’ve ever fished,” said Mueller, a Naugatuck resident who has been fishing for more than 25 years.

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