Hartford Gets $100K To Convert Empty Storefronts

by Categorized: Neighborhoods Tagged: , , , Date:

The city was awarded a $100,000 grant from the state to transform vacant downtown storefronts into “creative destinations,” such as retail or pop-up stores, a remote broadcast studio or an artist exhibition.

The grant is part of the state’s Arts Catalyze Placemaking Program, which invests in Connecticut’s arts-based infrastructure and cultural activities to ultimately draw more people to cities and towns.

The state received 29 applications for the program, which began this year, city officials said. Eleven cities and organizations were awarded grants.

Kristina Newman-Scott, director of the Hartford’s Marketing, Events and Cultural Affairs Division said city officials are eyeing several spaces to be converted into arts-based venues. The city is aiming to transform at least four storefronts, she said, with the first opening as early as May.

City officials are in talks for possible locations along Main Street, Pratt Street and Pearl Street, Newman-Scott said. She said she envisions one of the spaces as a co-op style store, where consumers can purchase things made by local artists, and another as a remote broadcast studio.

“Many people think you have to cluster things in one space, but I don’t agree,” Newman-Scott said Thursday. “In any vibrant city, you’re walking around. You don’t have to be on just one street. We’re so walkable. The whole point of our downtown efforts now is to encourage people to get out there and move, and walk the great city we have.”

Newman-Scott said the city had worked with WNPR in September to create a “pop-up” broadcast studio in a former bank space downtown, where radio hosts broadcast the shows Where We Live and The Colin McEnroe Show live. Having the radio station in that area — in a vacant space in State House Square — created a buzz, she said. The city is in talks with WNPR to do more live shows from Hartford’s downtown.

Mayor Pedro Segarra said Thursday that the grant would help increase foot traffic downtown.

“Last year, several small businesses opened at the Linden, Spotlight Theater opened on Front Street, [and] Infinity Music Hall and Capital Grille [are] on their way,” he said in a prepared statement. “I have no doubt that this creative utilization of space will inspire continued growth and promote more tourism in our city.”

A similar effort, called Project Storefronts, was started in New Haven in 2010. Since its inception, the project — which puts “pop-up” retailers or activities into vacant storefronts to see if they catch on or if the location works for another business — has launched at least two dozen businesses there.

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16 thoughts on “Hartford Gets $100K To Convert Empty Storefronts

  1. Pingback: Vacant Downtown Hartford Storefronts To Get Creative Makeover | Real Estate

  2. evan

    New London has done the same. The challenge is not enough foot traffic, not enough residents and landlords that have buildings that require large capital investments by potential store owners to bring up to speed. A bad mix. Nice to dress up the pig but at the same time… still only a bandaid to the problem.

  3. sue

    The state is BANKRUPT and this is what DANNY BOY sees fit to spend our money on. Like wbrukie said you can dress up a pig but it is still a pig. Remember Hartford, NH, NB, New London, Waterbury, Bridgeport have been run by socialists for decades and you can see what you get with socialists.

  4. Mindless Simpleton from little CT town

    Hartford is a pig, I hate cities and I’m scared of anyone who isn’t working class white. I stay within ten minutes of my house and went to Boston once on a class trip in 7th grade and didn’t like it. Oh, and I think I have a god given right to free parking. Wahhhh woe is me.

  5. Skippy

    Hartford is hardly a place to compare to Boston or New York. It needs private investment to preserve all of the historic and positive aspects of the city. Most importantly, it needs for people, who live in fear-based bubbles of ignorance, to stop perpetuating rumors and untruths about a city about which they know very little.

  6. henry rivera

    Look at the East Village in New York City, Lower Manhattan. It works just fine. A fine instruent can be tuned. But will the music coming out of it attract?
    If it would attrack a walking patronage of all ages in this case for downtown Hartford.. It would be ideal. please proceed ahead with program, but caution. and God Bless..look at the Civic Center?? What has happened?.

  7. Peonia

    I think the idea is great and long overdue. Nothing sadder than seeing block after block of empty storefronts that remind us we’re on a road to being a ghost town. Looking forward to see what art and antics will liven up the streets!

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