Category Archives: Development

New iConnect Store To Open Feb. 27

by Categorized: Business, Development, Events, Neighborhoods Date:

The newest iConnect store, Naturally Dogs & Cats, is set to open Feb. 27. The store is located at 100 Trumbull St., near Salute.

A ribbon cutting will be held at 3:30 p.m. The store’s grand opening will also feature refreshments and door prizes.

NDC“There are no pet stores in Hartford,” Bob Marshall, the store’s co-owner, told the Courant in October. “I saw a great need for it with all of the dogs walking around in the park. This is a great opportunity for us to test drive it out and see how viable it is.”

Marshall, who runs the shop with business partner John Surmik, said city pet owners had to drive to the suburbs to get their pet supplies.

The grand opening will run from 3:30 to 8 p.m.

The goal of iConnect is to establish businesses for six-month trial periods, in hopes that they will be successful enough to remain open permanently. The store owners qualify for free or reduced rent, plus a subsidy for utility bills.

iConnect is funded in part by a $100,000 grant from a state program working to draw more people into cities and towns through arts and cultural activities. The city also contributed $65,000 toward the effort as part of its federal grant matching program.

Along with Naturally Dogs & Cats, city officials chose three other businesses from a pool of more than 40 applicants: Hartford Prints, a letterpress company; National Exhibitions and Archives, a pop-up museum and print-on-demand gallery; and WNPR, which has opened a pop-up studio for remote broadcasts.

BID To Segarra: Shut Down Club

by Categorized: Business, Crime, Development, Pedro Segarra, Planning, Police Date:

Another fatal shooting occurred early Friday outside the Up Or On The Rocks nightclub (50 Union Place), prompting a temporary closure of the club.

Mayor Pedro Segarra has called for more police in bars and a change to a state law allowing 18-and-over parties in nightclubs. Up Or On The Rocks, which frequently hosts 18-and-over events, has agreed to close temporarily until a security plan is in place. The owner, Jerry Fornarelli, could not be reached for comment.

Friday’s incident was the second shooting death in August stemming from an altercation that began in the club, police said. On Aug. 4, Brian Simpe of Manchester was killed during a fight that started inside Up Or On the Rocks and spilled onto the street after the club closed.

Now, Michael Zaleski, head of the Hartford Business Improvement District, wants the establishment shut down for good.

He sent a letter to Segarra Friday calling for the permanent closure of Up Or On The Rocks, saying the club is ruining efforts to revitalize the city’s downtown.

“Perception and reality of the downtown are critical,” Zaleski wrote. “Thousands of dollars have been invested to try to change people’s perceptions of the city. We need people to be able to feel safe in the entertainment district. These types of incidents can’t continue to happen.”

You can read Zaleski’s letter here: HBID – Close Up or On the Rocks

What do you think? Should Up Or On The Rocks be shut down permanently, or should a better security plan be tested out first?

The Kitchen At HPL Opens

by Categorized: Business, City Activities, Development, Hartford Public Library, Neighborhoods Date:

The nonprofit Billings Forge, which provides farm-to-table job training, farmer’s markets and housing for city residents in the Frog Hollow neighborhood, has expanded to Hartford’s downtown with a new cafe in the public library’s Main Street branch.

The Kitchen at Hartford Public Library

The Kitchen at Hartford Public Library.

The cafe will serve breakfast, lunch and pastries made from locally grown and sourced ingredients, organizers said.

With the addition of the cafe, about 16 to 20 people will be able to go through the nonprofit’s 12-week job training program per year, said Julie Carrion, the director of catering and education for Billings Forge. Participants learn everything from cooking and baking to sanitation and food safety.

Employees work the register at the new cafe.

Employees work the register at the new cafe.

Billings Forge started about seven years ago in Frog Hollow. The Kitchen at Billings Forge, set in an 1869 building that once housed the Billings and Spencer tool forge — which manufactured drop iron wrenches for bicycles, pliers and tongs — also sells locally sourced food.

The Billings Forge complex also includes market rate and subsidized apartments, the Firebox restaurant, a farmer’s market, community gardens and an art studio.

cafe3

You can read more here.

Check out some video of the ribbon cutting:

 

Sign Of Things To Come

by Categorized: Business, Construction, Development, Neighborhoods Date:

The first sign for the city’s iConnect project went up on Trumbull Street today, near the XL Center. The vacant storefront is expected to be filled with a pop-up studio, where WNPR will sometimes broadcast its “Where We Live” and “The Colin McEnroe Show” programs.

If you haven’t heard of iConnect, it’s a program that seeks to establish businesses for an eight-month trial period in hopes that they will be successful enough to remain open permanently.

iConnect storefront on Trumbull Street. Photo by Patrick Raycraft.

iConnect storefront on Trumbull Street. Photo by Patrick Raycraft.

In April, after reviewing more than 40 applications, the city selected as its winners Hartford Prints, a family-run paper goods store and studio; National Exhibitions and Archives, a pop-up museum and print-on-demand gallery; Farm Shop, an urban farm hub that will sell organic food and supplies; and Natural Dogs and Cats, a pet store selling dog and cat food.

Additionally, WNPR was chosen to occupy the storefront on Trumbull Street. It will share the location with a co-work space designed to attract entrepreneurs and people from the business community who could benefit from a group setting.

The city is also working to bring a pop-up marketplace to Trumbull Street, called Handmade Hartford, which will sell items made by local artists.

iConnect is partly funded by a $100,000 grant from a state program working to draw more people into cities and towns through arts and cultural activities. The city is contributing $65,000 toward the effort as part of its federal grant matching program.

The shop owners will qualify for free or reduced rent, plus a subsidy for utility bills.

To read more about iConnect, click here, here, here and here.

Triangle Project Public Meeting

by Categorized: Busway, Construction, Development, Events, Neighborhoods, Parks Date:

A public meeting will be held July 24 to provide information on the Bushnell Park North Section of the Intermodal Triangle Project, part of the iQuilt partnership.

Design for this section of the project, located along the park’s northern boundary between Pulaski Circle and Asylum Street, has been completed, city officials said.

The meeting will run from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Hartford Public Library, 500 Main St. (in the Center for Contemporary Culture). Residents, business owners, commuters and anyone else interested “are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity to discuss this project,” officials said in a prepared statement. For additional information, contact Jeffrey Cormier at 860-757-9043 or cormj001@hartford.gov.

To read more on the triangle project, click here, here, here and here.

Here’s an image of the section (provided by the city):

Screen Shot 2013-07-12 at 1.06.48 PM

City Officials Target Spaces For iConnect

by Categorized: Business, City Activities, Development, Neighborhoods, Planning Date:

Businesses on Pratt and Trumbull streets downtown may soon have new neighbors, as the city pushes ahead with its iConnect program.

In April, four businesses were chosen to occupy vacant downtown storefronts as part of the initiative, which establishes them for an eight-month trial period in hopes that they will be successful enough to remain open permanently. From more than 40 applicants, the city chose Hartford Prints, a family-run paper goods store and studio currently in the city’s Parkville neighborhood; National Exhibitions and Archives, a pop-up museum and print-on-demand gallery, which will host traveling exhibitions; Farm Shop, an urban farm hub that will sell organic food and supplies, such as plants, seeds and organic soil, as well as host workshops on cooking; and Natural Dogs and Cats, a pet store selling dog and cat food.

On Tuesday, Kristina Newman-Scott, Hartford’s director of marketing, events and cultural affairs, told me that the city has identified locations for the businesses: Hartford Prints will occupy 42 1/2 Pratt St.; Farm Shop will be located at 80 Pratt St.; Naturally Dogs and Cats will occupy 100 Trumbull St.; and National Exhibitions will be between 100 and 200 Trumbull St. The city is still working to finalize those locations, she said.

In addition, WNPR will occupy a remote space on Trumbull Street (which the city hasn’t yet identified), where it will sometimes broadcast “Where We Live” and “The Colin McEnroe Show,” Newman-Scott said. It will share the location with Deft Collective, a co-work space designed to attract entrepreneurs and people from the business community who could benefit from a group setting.

iConnect is partly funded by a $100,000 grant from a state program working to draw more people into cities and towns through arts and cultural activities. The city is contributing $65,000 toward the effort as part of its federal grant matching program.

The shop owners will qualify for free or reduced rent, plus a subsidy for utility bills.

For background on iConnect, click here, here, here and here.

City Hires New Planning Director

by Categorized: Development, Planning Date:

(Above Photo: Courtesy of City)

Khara Dodds has joined the city staff as the new planning director, replacing Roger O’Brien. O’Brien was terminated in August on the heels of a comprehensive review that the city performed of his department. City officials have not said what specifically led to the termination (though he has not always been in the news for positive reasons).

Dodds, who most recently served as director of planning and economic development for the town of Plymouth, Conn., began work with the city on Aug. 22, according to the mayor’s office.

“As the head of the land use department, she managed planning, zoning, economic and community development initiatives for the town,” city officials wrote in a prepared statement, referring to her work in Plymouth.

Prior to that, Dodds worked as a principal planner for the Burlington County Economic Development and Regional Planning Department in New Jersey and as a regional planner for the New Jersey Office of Smart Growth. She earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Rutgers.

For the past three years, Khara has served on the executive committee for the Connecticut chapter of the American Planning Association and currently serves as committee secretary,” officials wrote in a press release.Khara Dodds is a resident of the city of Hartford where she lives with her husband, J. Evans Dodds and daughter, Angelique.”

Pinnacle One And ARCADIS/O&G

by Categorized: Budget, Construction, Development, Schools Date:

Last weekend, we reported that the city has hired a consultant to help recover as much as $27 million in reimbursements from the state for school construction projects, some of which date back to 2003 (and earlier).

Program managers for the 20 projects that the city is still seeking reimbursements on — which include Diggs Construction (it managed 13 of the projects), the board of education (5 projects) and Pinnacle One (2 projects) — submitted incomplete or incorrect paperwork, and didn’t follow up when the state questioned or rejected the change orders.

Turns out that Pinnacle One, which oversaw renovation projects at Breakthrough and Classical Magnet, had at one point changed its name to ARCADIS. ARCADIS merged with O&G to become ARCADIS/O&G — the company that the city is now contracting with for school projects.

Pinnacle One failed to properly seek about $3.8 million in reimbursements ($884,505 from the Breakthrough project and $2.88 million on the Classical Magnet project). City Architect Antonio Matta told me that he and other officials, who’ve been tracking down old paperwork and signatures in order to pursue the reimbursements, are working with ARCADIS employees that were around for the old Hartford school projects.

“We’ve been able to find some of the employees who were with Pinnacle, that are now ARCADIS employees, and they’ve assisted us with the [project] closeouts,” Matta said. “They’ve been very helpful.”

The city is hoping for roughly $10 million (stemming from 5 projects) this year and about $9 million (stemming from 7 projects) next year, Matta has said. The city built $12.2 million into its budget this year from the school reimbursements.

‘Downtown North’ Future Home Of UConn Campus?

by Categorized: Development, Neighborhoods Date:

Our colleague Ken Gosselin reports today that the city has proposed “Downtown North” — a city-owned, three-acre plot of land — as the new site for the University of Connecticut campus that is being relocated from West Hartford. The city would lease the parcel for $1 a year.

From Gosselin’s post:

“A university presence will create an institutional bookend to the benefits of residents and businesses by cultivating community along downtown’s border with the North End neighborhoods,” [Development Services Director Thomas] Deller wrote.

The land targeted by the city is located near both the Capital Preparatory Magnet School, the Rensselaer at Hartford Graduate Center and Capital Community College. Downtown North also has been an area targeted for new housing.

The city’s proposal is one of 13 submitted to UConn, which announced in November that it plans to move its Greater Hartford branch to downtown Hartford within a year after facing $25 million worth of repairs and renovations to its West Hartford campus.

Gosselin reported this week that Front Street developer HB Nitkin Group wants UConn to move into the former Hartford Times building on Prospect Street, while Alan Lazowski of LAZ Parking has proposed constructing a new building on an existing parking lot on Main Street, next to the G. Fox building.

What do you think? Which Hartford location makes best sense for the city, students and local businesses?

The State Of The City, And A Few Words About Accuracy

by Categorized: Development, Neighborhoods, Pedro Segarra Date:

By Jenna Carlesso

Like most journalists, we at The Courant strive for accuracy in our reporting.

Last Monday, I wrote a story about large budget deficits projected for the coming years in Hartford. (Read it here.) After it ran, I heard it had ruffled some feathers (including those of Mayor Pedro Segarra). So on Wednesday, after a public budget meeting, I approached Jose Sanchez, Segarra’s budget director — who I had interviewed for the story — to ask if the story contained any incorrect information. His reply? “No.”

On Sunday, Segarra appeared on Channel 3’s “Face the State.” Host Dennis House mentioned the story, and asked the mayor: “How does that reality [of the deficits] play upon the people of the city? How will it impact their lives?” Segarra didn’t answer the question, instead calling the article “very inaccurate.” (Here’s the video.)

Huh? The budget director himself, who had supplied the figures used in the story, had already said the story contained no inaccuracies. (Here’s the budget forecast provided by the city: city budget forecast.)

After his State of the City speech yesterday, I asked the mayor what he thought was inaccurate in the story. “The inaccuracies were created by not painting a total picture,” Segarra said. “A lot of emphasis was placed on the deficits and not enough emphasis was placed on things done in the past to offset the deficits.”

Pressed on whether any numbers or other information in the story were wrong, he replied, “No.”

The city is facing staggering deficits in the years ahead, and residents have a right to know the facts.